Online health startups breaking taboos, bridging digital gap
New Delhi : Armed with technology, young startup firms offering health services online are challenging taboos associated with many bodily and mental ailments and bridging the digital divide by tele-connecting people in small towns to doctors in big cities.
Delhi-based 'Visit', an on-demand healthcare service online platform, provides to its users a pool of medical specialists and general physicians to choose from for consultation.
Vaibhav Singh, 23, head of business development at the firm, founded nearly a year ago, says, "One of the primary driving forces behind this entrepreneurial venture was to cut through the social taboos and stigma associated with various health disorders."
"Our aim is to help people reach out to specialists from the comfort of their home or any private place in quick time. We realised many people in India don't feel comfortable talking about skin diseases or mental ailments, and so our platform seeks to address that aspect," he told PTI.
Vaibhav, who graduated with a dual degree in BPharma and MSc (Chemistry) from BITS-Pilani, says, the venture was founded with three others students on the campus in the final year of their studies.
'Visit' offers paid online consultation, through video and voice channels, and seven days of free follow-up check-up over text chat. Besides, it maintains a pool of MBBS doctors, who through its 'Q' service, offer free medical consultation by text.
"Currently close to 80-85 users chat on our 'Q' per day. We seek to position ourself as a replacement for online searches and self-medication habits," he says.
The online platform, available through web and mobile application, currently has a pool of 500 doctors which include psychologists, dieticians, dermatologists and general physicians.
"We are planning to soon add women health and sexologists to the list. We want people to feel comfortable as we maintain confidentiality and are using technology to help them tide over their hesitation as well as break social stigma," Vaibhav said.
But this start-up is not content with urban areas only and has now entered into a partnership with telecom firms to offer telemedicine services to people in tier 2 and tier 3 cities.
"The service, available over telephone for Rs 7 per minute, has been already launched in the north zone, which would cover Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. We are getting 500 requests on a daily basis. The service will now be made available in the south zone followed by east and west zones," he said.
"The doctors signed up for the service primarily belong to the same zone as the caller and have regional language proficiency too," he added.