There are two big challenges when it comes to online health information. The first challenge is that is that there is too much information on the internet. Anytime you search for a symptom or a disease there are tones’ of websites and messaging boards with information that may or may not be correct. As a matter of fact there is more mis-information on healthcare than correct information. At this stage how would one go about getting the best health advice today? Secondly the language on these websites is so complicated that one would need to have done 12 years of schooling to understand it. A study completed in US, Europe and Australia in 2015 further validates this claim.
Well one easy way is to look for reliable sources like Web MD, NHS, CDC or any of the health.gov sites. These have information from qualified health experts and would be a good source to get information. But still the second challenge of simplified information is difficult to overcome through these sites. Also if one is looking for something specific then it becomes a big challenge.
Some entrepreneurs have started looking at both challenges and working on a solution. In India there is a bigger mandate to solve this problem as quality care if difficult to find in the rural areas and mis information can only add to the problem.
Some time ago I wrote about Lybrate, who was using health advice and curated content to bridge the gap between those seeking health information and the experts providing it. But how will you feel if you could type out your symptoms on an app, give a brief medical history and then receive relevant health advice from a qualified professional?
Fiction? Not really this service is already available from apps like Superdoc in India. Founded by Chaitanya Mehta, Abhishek Mane and Dr. Dinesh Rijhwani, Superdoc today has a subscriber base of 15,000 subscribers in more than 100 countries. These have resulted in more than 30,000 interactions and they boast of a response rate from the doctors of around 7 minutes.
Most of the health information seekers fall into 4 areas Skin Issues, women’s sexual health, mental health and child care &parenting advice. This clearly shows the importance of such applications as many of us are afraid to seek information from our physicians in certain areas. Superdoc does not provide medical consultation or give prescriptions. It just dispenses with Medical information and that’s where Superdoc is probably a very important application. With 80% of our medical infrastructure in the cities, Superdoc can be that bridge for rural areas that I have been personally seeking. I think we need more entrepreneur’s thinking like Chaitanya and team.
Superdoc considers itself as the Uber of health information. Just like Uber took a bunch of drivers, enabled them with technology like GPS and gadgets like Smart Phones, Superdoc wants to do something similar ith healthcare. Enable qualified physicians to leverage technology and respond to query from information seekers.
Superdoc has been investing heavily in identifying doctors with good communication skills and those who have run clinical practices for at least 3-5 years. Currently Dr Rijhwani is responsible for this recruitment, using his experience as a medico to good effect.
The current workflow for Superdoc enables the doctors on the other side to give actionable advice that is useful and covers a whole range of treatments including home remedies, exercise, counselling. “We are still evolving as a health service provider, every day we make improvements to the workflow and to the process”” Says Chaitanya.
Every doctors who wants to join Superdoc is required to undergo a 2 week training. All degrees are wetted and they also do a check on the MCI registries to ensure that the doctors are truly qualified to dispense advice.
The venture has received funding from the Times Internet ventures. Currently the App is available only on Android and free of charge. By end of the year there are plans to launch the iOS version. There are plans to monetize the venture. With aggressive pricing on phone calls and Chat sessions that may range from Rs 200-300 per phone call and Rs 50-100 for a chat with the doctor.
From a technology perspective the app runs on Java with an automated algorithm and workflow. Using elastic search and machine learning Superdoc learns daily as it interacts with health information seekers. The application was customer developed and is hosted on Amazon Web Cloud.
In conclusion, though I am impressed with the start, I think Superdoc has some way to go. I still feel these applications are not so popular in tier 2 and tier 3 towns, and these are the places that most need them. I am sure Chaitanya and team are working on how to take Superdoc to the last mile into rural India.
So what are you waiting for, download Superdoc and start leveraging the expert health advice through your smart phone. But remember this is not a medical consultation just medical advice.