Using tech to empower healthcare in remote communities with limited access
Access to healthcare is a hot topic in mainstream politics, but few in the West know what it’s like to actually live in truly remote places where even access to running water is an issue.
Take India, for example, where 70% of the population lives in rural areas, and access to healthcare is only available for the remaining 30% that live in the big cities.
Additionally, India’s elemental healthcare infrastructure accounts for a meager 19% availability of specialist doctors in Community Health Centers (CHCs), and a shortfall of 17,854 medical specialists in the country, according to the Times of India New Delhi edition.
In villages where the majority of peoples’ lives depend upon their daily wages, visiting urban areas for any minor health issue is difficult. This leads to delays in consultation, which can then lead to future complications. The availability of registered doctors in those areas is also a major concern, and this gap is taken up by local unauthorized medical practitioners.
However, tech is one industry that has reached the farthest corners of India, and mobile phone usage topped 1 Billion subscribers last years in the country.
This led to the creation of MedTel Healthcare, an Uber-like startup for healthcare that allows mobile and desktop users to connect with Telehealth Pods where patients receive specialist consultations on demand.
By delivering medical assistance and medicine, MedTel saves money for patients and builds revenue for Telehealth Pod operators.
I spoke with co-Founder and CEO Shashank Singhal to hear how MedTel was affecting the lives of real people in the states of Odisha and West Bengal.
At The Sociable we are interested in how technology transforms societies, and we love to show real world examples of how tech affects real people. That being said, do you have any personal stories or anecdotes about how difficult the healthcare system can be in India, and how MedTel helped solve that problem using real life examples?
Yes, we do have many real life examples and we are solving healthcare problems by enabling the society through technology platform on mobile/tablet. One of our telehealth pod operators has been trained and started service of MedTel at his village. He got satisfied and elated from patient satisfaction. He has completed more than 250 consultations last month. He has shared his feedback and gratitude to MedTel team for the mobile App, as he is enabled to get instant patient registration, consultation and prescription on his smart phone. His name is Gajendra Kumar Sahoo (TeleHealth Pod of the Month, Khurda, Odisha).
Are there any other companies doing what you do in your geographical locations?
Right now, the rural market is completely niche, not many companies have explored the same and fortunately we are getting first mover advantage. While at same time, we are solving difficulties to educate the rural market about healthcare technology.
MedTel works on B2B2C model that is expanding a little more than 100% month-on-month with setting up of digital health centers (TeleHealth Pods), and consultation rates have grown with a run rate of 200% month on month. It has established more than 1,000 telehealth pods in rural areas of Odisha and West Bengal in the first three months since its inception and served more than 2,000 patients with different specialities.
The company funded with $50,000 by Dr. Lalit Ranjan Manik (a UK trained Public health Specialist), Dr. Devendra Tiwari (an ENT Specialist), and Dr. Yera Dhanurdhar (a Pulmonologist working in AIIMS), and is looking to raise $1 million in “pre-series A” funding.
Its latest cash injection will be used to “drive the company’s aggressive national expansion plans” to meet growing demand and needs and also plan to open specialist poly clinics in Tier-II & Tier-III cities as pilots.