Why mHealth is going to be a game-changer in India

India has one of the biggest healthcare burdens in the world, due to poor doctors per capita ratio and skewed priorities in healthcare infrastructures. The rural and semi-urban population has very poor accessibility to the healthcare services in India, which actually constitute more than 75% of the population. As per the reports 80% of the healthcare infrastructures reside in top 20 cities of India.

On the other hand, a large chunk of India’s urban population suffers from chronic diseases, which require regular health check-ups and consultation with doctor. Diabetes is the most obvious example of this, with India is emerging as the diabetes capital of the world.

In India, a patient may have to spend only Rs. 200 for the doctor’s consultation fee but for a person who has a specialist doctor 200 km away from his village, he may have to spend another Rs. 800 on travel, Rs. 200 on food, Rs. 500 on lodging and hence effectively he need to pay around Rs. 1500–2000 for a single consultation which is a big and significant amount for 80% of the Indians.

All these dots seem to connect to mHealth — the delivery of healthcare services and information using the mobile technology. mHealth is a global phenomenon and it can be game-changer for the market like India. mHealth includes a wide range of services which includes something as simple as appointment scheduling to a crucial function such as real time virtual health assist.

But the bigger question is how mHealth can help to solve the real problem. The doctors per capita will remain the same then how everyone can get access to a better healthcare. The doctor have limited time then how the mHealth will help. The answer is, yes, nothing will change in terms of these numbers but a lot of precious time that goes away in checking the old medical records, which are on papers and not arranged properly and many times missing, can be saved and the additional time, which a doctor spends writing the prescription on paper and conveying it to the patient, can be utilised to treat someone who is in need. With use of mHealth, we can solve a big chunk of problem, health records can be saved on secure clouds and accessible to the doctors in summarised form and the prescribing medication can be just few taps on the mobile while a patient get all the reminders for the medication on time and can actually maintain a medication diary and hence a better care and treatment.

One of the biggest myth about the healthcare is that the doctor need to physically check the patient for a better treatment and consultation but the reality is 18 out of top 20 problems for which people visit a doctor can be treated remotely and does not require any physical check or test.

The mHealth solution will also release the burden on the healthcare infrastructure, as if you visit any Indian hospital, one can see hundreds of people waiting for the doctor just for a follow up or to show a report which does not require physical meeting in most of the cases.

But the next question arises that — is it the right time for an mHealth solution in India. Well, India is witnessing significant activity on the mobile space. People are adopting mobile apps for their daily needs and hence this is THE time for the mHealth solutions. mHealth provides the potential to generate invaluable societal data, if we can crack the code to systematically collect this information through mobile then the social benefits of this are going to be immeasurable.

As per the PWC survey reports, India ranks 2nd among developing countries studied on maturity for mHealth adoption. The report quotes “widespread adoption of mobile technology in healthcare, or mHealth, is now viewed as inevitable by more than half of doctors and healthcare payers in developed and emerging markets around the world, including 60% in India”.

Originally published at www.linkedin.com.