mHealth, the Challenges are Opportunities in Themselves: Saurabh Arora, CEO, Lybrate
In a world with 7 billion people, 6 billion of them are mobile phone subscribers. A new report “Leveraging Mobile Technologies to Promote Maternal and Newborn Health,” found that combining mobile technologies with existing health system resources would provide women and newborns with:
- Timely interventions that promote decisions to seek care and stimulate demand for available services– such as text messages that provide health education and increase awareness of health resources;
- Improved access to health services and facilities, for example through services that equip community-based health workers with mobile tools, extending health coverage into households and the community; and
- Health care that is delivered efficiently and expertly, through communication services that connect women to peer networks or local expert resources.
Mobile technology enters the picture as the ubiquitous delivery vehicle that records patient activity, monitors data, provides feedback to the patient and communicates with the provider.
Mobile applications make it increasingly easy to navigate plans, find physicians and even do first-level triage from a smartphone; they can also be a fitness aid, by recording vital signs during workouts and charting progress.
Such is the India and US-based Lybrate Inc., the company behind Lybrate.com, an online platform for patients to book appointments with doctors was founded in 2013 by Saurabh Arora , Vispi Daver and Sandeep Singhal. Lybrate is an online and mobile-based platform that connects patients to doctors. Patients can use the service for free to find trusted doctors recommended by other patients near their locations and also book an online appointment with them, while doctors use it to manage appointments, medical records, payment, billing and expenses for their clinics. Lybrate claims its platform empowers doctors with critical patient information anytime, anywhere so that they can access patient’s medical history in a short time.
Lybrate’s service is currently available in over 20 cities, including Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi and Hyderabad, among others. The service is available online and also on iPhone & Android devices.
To get a more closer look towards the mobile Health or mHealth scenario of the country today and tomorrow, Ekta Srivastava in an interaction with Saurabh Arora, CEO, Lybrate.
Could you please elaborate on the importance of analytics of mHealth.
Analytics of mHealth can help mine crucial health data, which is hardly available now. Its analysis can help generate medical data and location data and by combining them, location-specific data can be derived. Such a thorough data will provide vital insights into health issues of a particular location and help find unique solutions.
An overview of mHealth sector in India, what is it worth & how much growth do you foresee?
Currently, the mHealth space in India is in a very nascent stage. However, the penetration of internet services and emergence of smart phones will catapult its growth. The sector holds immense potential and mHealth is set to become an important and indispensable part of Indian healthcare delivery system. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the mHealth sector will become Rs 3000 crore market by 2017.
What are the major challenges you see in the introduction of mHealth in India?
Less internet penetration, slow broadband services and language barrier act as stumbling blocks and impact the efficiency of mHealth services. However, all the challenges are opportunities in themselves.
mHealth is touted as a solution to getting healthcare services to rural areas, but how relevant are they in urban areas, where quality healthcare is within reach?
mHealth is the future of healthcare delivery in India and the concept is relevant for both rural and urban areas. While inaccessibility of doctors itself is a bigger challenge in the rural areas, the pain points for the urban dwellers pertaining to health are much different. Here, reaching out to doctors is not such a big challenge unlike in rural parts of the country, although urban areas also suffer from the inaccessibility issue. People residing in urban areas do not visit doctors for minor health issues out of reasons such as time constraint, travel, waiting time at clinics and hospitals, inertia to see a physician and carelessness. Because of these bottlenecks, people start indulging in self medication, a very risky behavior that has serious ramifications on health. This is where mHealth has a solution for people residing in urban areas. It offers them the opportunity to connect with doctors and seek professional help without visiting them. For instance, Lybrate app enables people to talk to doctors using their mobile phones and get their expert opinions. mHealth has a lot of potential for the Indian healthcare market.
Does rapid urbanization mean mHealth will lose importance?
No, urbanization will not have much impact on mHealth as the pain points will continue to exist. In fact, significance of mHealth will grow with urbanization.
Some recent innovations that mHealth sector has seen.
In the last few years, a lot of players have entered the mHealth space with different offerings. There are platforms that allow doctor discovery to ease the difficulty of finding doctors and book appointments. Lybrate has come up with a unique platform that solves the fundamental problem of healthcare delivery which is inaccessibility of doctors. The Lybrate app for the first time allows users to communicate with doctors and seek professional help. Another innovation involving mHealth is home healthcare wherein healthcare experts provide services at home and keep the physicians in loop using mobile phones and tablets. These innovations are changing the face of Indian healthcare scenario.