With scarcity of doctors increasing every year, Nikita Wadhawan finds a way for doctors to treat a patient effectively and quickly
We can encourage Indian talents as much as we like but the reality is every parent in India still want their child to settle abroad. Moreover, children who are pursuing medical or engineering are pressurised even more, to find a job in a foreign country. In a country which is plagued with various kinds of diseases owing to it sub-tropical environment, it becomes even more imperative to retain our home-grown doctors. India has just one doctor for every 1,681 persons, says a Medical Council of India report. As if those figures weren’t bad enough, between April 2013 and March 2016, 4,701 doctors who graduated from India chose to go abroad.
How do we solve this?
The doctor-patient ratio is quickly becoming grim when it comes to paediatricians. On an average, each paediatrician in the country sees 60-70 child patients every day. The average consultation time for a paediatrician in India is five minutes, while the corresponding figure in developed countries is 25-30 minutes. With so much of workload, it is becoming very difficult for doctors to offer child healthcare suggestions to parents. The doctors can’t afford to spend enough time on every patient when many others are waiting for their turn. So, Dr Atish Laddad, who is a Paediatrician, has created a web-based application for paediatricians and parents called The Pediatric Network (TPN) app.
“The app has everything that a parent wants on one platform. They have a 24*7 helpline, for emergencies when your doctor is not picking up the call. Then there is a backend team of doctors available on the helpline, they do not prescribe any medicines they just help out if you have any difficulties. We also have a library which is developed by doctors that can address every issue that a parent has on one platform. In the library we have a section called children’s section where parents usually ask or want to know answered by paediatricians from all over India,” explains Dr Atish Laddad, founder of TNP app.
Whenever a parent visits a clinic with their child, a SMS is generated, from which they can download the mobile app. The doctor examines the child and can finish a prescription is less than 30 seconds. The copy of the prescription goes to the records section of the mobile app. The app also gives a photograph of the drugs to decrease dispensing errors and give reminders for medications.
“We also have a growth tracking system where the parents can track the growth of their child. In that we also have a milestone where the parents can monitor the appropriate parameters to judge their child’s growth,” added Dr Laddad.
Doctors on board
Every information is crucial, especially when you are treating a patient. Even your past health record can help your doctor a lot to prescribe you the correct medicines. Such electronic records also help doctors in case a patient loses or forgets a medical prescription. “When it comes to vaccination, if we or the patient lose a record, it becomes very difficult to treat them as we are unsure about which vaccine has to be given and on which date. Moreover, it is usually difficult to understand the doctor’s handwriting while referring to the medical prescription, so a digital copy aids the patients to understand it,” says Dr Hrishikesh Dingankar, a paediatrician.
“Even if one stays outside the city, they can consult any doctor from the current city by uploading the last prescription in the app in their own child’s database. With the help of that, the doctors will start treating the patient immediately. Even the parents can get hold of their child’s data and other details of the treatment through the digital record, which is more convenient than to keep a hard copy of these,” added Dr Ajay Gupta, a paediatrician.
With the advent of monsoon, it also brings with it a series of illness and children are the most susceptible to it. Many first-time parents get worked up easily if their kids show even the slightest symptoms of a common cold.
“I have a 3-month-old baby, so this is a one-stop solution to all my worries. The library has been really helpful and is well written. My wife wanted to know more about feeding, so we called the helpline and they effortlessly answered all our doubts,” said Nilesh Katariya, an architect by profession and recently became a father.
“Mumbai weather often makes my kids fall prey easily to a few illnesses like a cough and cold. These minor infections can be treated by just consulting the doctor on the helpline without needing to actually go to the clinic. When we are out for holidays in case our daughter needs medical attention, we just need to call on the emergency number and they prescribe the required medicines so we can start the treatment immediately,” said cricket coach and father Kiran Powar.
Not there yet
The app still has a long way to go. While the app does make thing easier for the doctors and the patient people can also take advantages of the information out there and self-medicate their kids. “We are aware of this problem, so we have also put out a list of medications that you can use for self-medication and the ones that you can’t. For example, if I have a patient of chickenpox then a lot of parents prefer home remedies which through my app can help them in which remedies will work and which won’t,” said Dr Laddad.
Although being part of the app is helpful, as a patient if your doctor is not part of the system even then you can upload your records and use the advantages of the app. The only issue will be that your doctor won’t be able to access them if you are not physically present. Since this is an app-based system, it does require a smartphone and people from the lower strata of the society many not be able to access it. “We have had the opposite experience. We are also developing the app into multiple languages so it can cater to many people. But people who are from the lower middle class adapt to the app easily. People from higher class only want to be associated with a brand,” refutes Dr Laddad.