Diet and nutrition was the fastest-growing specialities in online consultations among women last year

More than half of all mental health queries among women came from non-metro users

India, March 5, 2021: The COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated the shift towards digital healthcare practices in India, but its adoption among women in 2020 – especially in non-metro cities – has been significant. Registering an overall growth of more than 212% from the previous year, online consultations emerged as one of the preferred modes of consulting doctors by women in India. 

More women in non-metro cities opted for online consultations in 2020 – growing at an average rate of 550%, compared with 400% recorded among women in metro cities. This means that even as the majority (65%) of the total number of online consultations done by women in 2020 were from metro cities, there has been a steady increase in the percentage of women from non-metro cities adopting telemedicine. In fact, this trend has been developing over the past three years.

From 10% in 2018 to 35% in 2020, women from non-metro cities are fast catching up with their counterparts in metro cities in embracing digital healthcare. What is even more remarkable is that around 75% of the women who consulted online from non-metro cities last year were first-time users of telemedicine. 

I discovered online consultation for the first time during the lockdown when I had to consult an ophthalmologist for an eye infection. The process was quick, convenient, and effective. Technology has indeed made things easier, especially for people our age, limited by options and mobility.” says Chandra, a 55-year-old Practo user from Salem, Tamil Nadu. 

Increased focus on mental health and well-being

  • Together, mental health and diet and nutrition consultations contributed to 25% of all consultations done by women
  • Over 60% of all online consultations done by women for psychiatry were from non-metro users
  • Most discussed concerns of women in non-metro cities: depression, anxiety and panic attacks
  • Most discussed concerns of women in metro cities: stress, obsessive-compulsive disorders, eating disorders, and mood disorders
    • 56% of all online consultations done by women for diet and nutrition were from non-metro users
  • Most discussed concerns of women in non-metro cities: weight loss, dietary supplements, healthy vegetarian diet, and empty calories
  • Most discussed concerns of women in metro cities: nutrition for kids, weight gain, eating disorders, and food addiction

Young women in their 20s and 30s formed the majority of  online consultation users

  • Non-metro cities: Users in the age group of 31-40 years accounted for one-third (35%) of all online consultations done by women in non-metro cities, followed by those between 21-30 years (24%), 41-50 years (10%), and 51-60 years (9%). A significant portion (22%) of the queries came from women aged 60 and above
  • Metro cities: Users in the age group of 21-30 years contributed to 45% of overall online consultations done by women in the metro cities. It is followed by those between 31-40 years (25%), 41-50 years (7%), and 51-60 years (10%) and women aged 60 and above(13%)

Continued growth in online and offline consultations for both primary and secondary specialities  

  • Primary and secondary care specialities  like pediatrics, diabetes, cardiology, and oncology recorded a significant increase of more than 550% in both metros and non-metros in just one year
  • Under in-clinic appointments, top consulted specialities were gynaecology  and dermatology, with visits to psychiatrists, dentists, pulmonologists, nephrologists, and neurologists also going up

Top cities (both among metros and non-metros) showed a growth of over  300% in the number of women consulting online 

  • Top metro cities from where most of the consults from women came from include  Bengaluru, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, and Kolkata
  • Top non-metro cities from where most of the women users consulted online include Lucknow, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bhubaneshwar, Secunderabad, Vishakapatnam, and Nagpur

50+ new non-metro cities recorded online consultations by first-time women users

  • Women from more than 50 non-metro cities, including Raipur, Howrah, Bharuch, Kibber, Badarpur, Alanganallur, Channapatna, and Kanpur, consulted doctors online for the first time in 2020

Commenting on these insights, Dr Alexander Kuruvilla, Chief Healthcare Strategy Officer, Practo, said, “Despite the headway made over the last few years to drive digital innovation in healthcare, 2020 accelerated that shift by at least five years. This has opened up access to digital healthcare services in India, revolutionizing the way it is experienced by women, especially those living in rural and remote corners of the country. With the support of 1 lakh+ doctor partners – including more than 50,000 female healthcare professionals – we hope to continue providing people the service they need, 24*7, to live longer, healthier lives.”

Dr Hema Jajoo, Obstetrician, Indore, who also consults on Practo, said,With telemedicine, all health facilities are within women’s reach, especially for those living in non-metro cities. Online consultations provide equitable access to women who have the tendency to ignore their health concerns due to other responsibilities. With specialized doctors available to them anytime, anywhere, they feel empowered to be proactive about their health. With that, telemedicine has played a significant role in building and improving access to quality healthcare for all women in the country.

Practo’s insights reports highlight important ailments and consultation-related trends in the country. The information is aggregated, anonymized, and analyzed at scale. We hope that with these findings, our healthcare providers are better equipped to understand disease patterns and address them effectively, helping others become more aware of their options when taking care of their medical needs.

 

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