The Family Physician – An Idea Lost to Time?

At our healthcare innovation enthusiasts meetup this weekend we followed up with an important question for all our attendees. What do you do when you just need simple medical advice? One of our attendees who migrated to Pune only recently surprised us by sharing that he calls his family physician back in his home town Satara. That feedback connected together a series of discussions that we’ve been having here around our direction for Savetime.

Many of us don’t have the equivalent of a family physician. It isn’t that we’re invincible, I guess we simply never made the time. Instead, whenever needed we rely on recommendations from parents, friends, especially those who we think know the city better than we do. While their recommendations work well there’s something missing from the larger picture.

Any diagnosis is founded on at least three key factors – your symptoms, medical history and the prevalent medical environment at that time. We’re all accustomed to asking and answering questions about our physiology so that we can get better treatment. A series of questions can help uncover everything from the smallest to the largest of ailments. That’s how primary care works. We rely on this approach as it would be expensive and even undesirable to prescribe all possible tests for every observed symptom.

What sets apart the family physician is the combination of in-depth knowledge of your medical constitution and training across specialties. In many cases, she is aware of the patients medical make up since birth. When a treatment is ineffective, or a diagnosis incomplete or incorrect, she serves as a key part of the puzzle in prescribing the relevant tests, referring you to the right specialist, or coming up with a new line of questions. Even in the case when you don’t have an ailment, as our meetup attendee pointed out, the family physician is there  to answer any questions too trivial for a visit to the clinic.

Recording medical histories digitally can’t fill in the gap left by a family physician entirely. Think of your medical history as if it were a globe. Medical histories depict what the land masses are like. But we still have no clue about the oceans. In other words. What are you like when you’re well? Or, when you’re not seeking medical care? Do you have any conditions that might be mistaken for the symptom of an ailment? Or worse. Do you have a condition that does not have any visible or verifiable symptoms? How does your physiology change throughout your day? Until we figure out how to track and store what easily runs into terabytes of information, the best alternative is always going to be human intuition and a checklist of questions that can help confirm or invalidate the physicians hypothesis.

In popular culture, the television show “House” is a recognizable parallel to this role. The brilliant eccentric Dr. House is the head of diagnostics at a prominent hospital. In order to be on his team (a much sought after position as the show would like us to believe), House requires his doctors to be ok with breaking into the patient’s house to search for clues. As House says, patients Lie about their histories more often than you’d expect, even if they’re dying. While the show is a work of fiction, the practices shown in the show are not entirely so even if they’ve been amplified for dramatic effect. Moreover, House is literally the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ of diagnostics and is presented with incredibly hard medical cases to solve. To have any credibility, coincidence or luck can hardly be convenient crutches for the story writer.

I’m not sure why the family physician isn’t as popular as it has been in the past. Perhaps a busy migratory life discourages the effort that cements this valuable one on one relationship. At this point, a few questions beg to be asked. What if we could reinvent that relationship? Take it with us wherever we go? What if she were accessible 24×7 over phone, sms or email? What if she had the best in class tools and technology to track our physiology? Wouldn’t that be a different, better world?

Santosh Dawara, User Growth at savetime

Santosh drives user growth at savetime and is a tech-entrepreneur. He enjoys creating products that help users think, create and achieve amazing things with the web. An industry veteran, he’s played roles with BlackBerry smartphone makers, Research in Motion and has taken India’s first online movie tickets aggregator live.

Do we care enough?

As an employee at a major multinational in the United States, I remember my first visit to the doctor’s office. I had woken up to a sore throat and visited the doctor the same day. The doctor checked my breathing, took a throat swab, prescribed an antibiotic and sent me on my way. I thought nothing of the visit until I checked the bill to my insurance provider. Imagine my surprise when I saw that my provider would be paying $110 not including the cost of my medicines, or a little more than Rs. 5,800. It left me with an incredibly unsettled feeling and many questions. Nine years after that visit, today a routine primary care checkup in the US costs $176.

As an Indian, I appreciate that a visit to a doctor here in any city costs anywhere between Rs. 50 to Rs. 500 ($10). Incredibly, the quality of primary care we deliver is still the same. I’m also willing to bet that a significant portion of those dollars paid went towards an unnecessary but mandatory test of my throat swab and indemnification of the doctor against the remote chance of me initiating a lawsuit. Such is an environment where fear of legal retribution commands a premium from exactly the same people who it was supposed to protect in the first place.

Which is why it’s a little disturbing to spot a new trend here in India where we irresponsibly name and shame our doctors. Social media and other forms of participative media encourage patients to share their experiences with doctors. Unfortunately, popular review sites are also breeding grounds for negativity where the posters share only their negative experiences.

Mainstream media too plays a significant role in attempting to shame doctors and their profession. I recall an episode of Satyamev Jayate where host Aamir Khan interviewed a family who had lost a dear one to alleged medical malpractice. What was sad was that the Star TV team did not make an effort to ask the doctor at the center of the accusation for his version of what had happened. This isn’t an isolated incident.

Of course, we shouldn’t excuse our doctor’s for their mistakes. Instead, I ask but a simple question- why shouldn’t we investigate and represent facts for what they are before embarking on a public campaign that could destroy a career? My argument is not meant to protect doctors who intend to harm, but for the doctors who had only the best of intentions and have made a mistake. If we judge going only by the outcome, then many of our doctors are guilty for simply practicing their profession. Such is the nature of what they’ve been asked to do.

I’ve known doctor’s to get attached to some of their patients even when it could mean going against what they’ve been taught. The patient could be a newborn, or someone suffering from a terminal disease. Similarly, when all other avenues are hopeless patients can only place their faith in their doctor. Through the eyes of the patient, the doctor truly must play the role of God. How can we expect them to be perfect? In fact, I can imagine that many doctors have a personal ‘near miss’ story where they compromised the well-being of their patient, but a colleague or simply good fortune intervened and the error was found out before it was too late. No one can be expected to humanly perform at the highest levels. Software engineers write bugs, doctors make errors and even voters occasionally regret their choices in leaders. People do fail, and when we do we reflect on our mistakes and feel terrible about them- thankfully.

Here at Savetime, we realize this fact full well. Patients have come to expect our doctors to have the cure, so much so that a job well done is now ordinary. We don’t agree. To fulfill our vision of creating India’s largest platform to bring doctors and patients together – we’re creating tools that will help you share both types of stories- the ones that will give you goosebumps, as well as those stories which you won’t get to hear. Tools that will hopefully help patients relate their experiences carefully. We won’t pretend that we don’t have a role to play. We believe the impact of our work will be felt in raising the overall intelligence of the patient community, better protection against malpractice and most importantly our confidence in the part of the healthcare system that is working well.

We wish all our doctors on Savetime the best for doctor’s day.

Santosh Dawara, User Growth at savetime

Santosh drives user growth at savetime and is a tech-entrepreneur. He enjoys creating products that help users think, create and achieve amazing things with the web. An industry veteran, he’s played roles with BlackBerry smartphone makers, Research in Motion and has taken India’s first online movie tickets aggregator live.

Startup soldier? You need to pay more attention to your health

“Wow! what a work environment?”, we all said after reading an article about how global software product companies are creating cool office infrastructure to promote innovation and creativity.

However, when we peel the layers on this, we find engineers often slogging – either stuck with a specific issue that no one else has solved or meeting a release deadline to stay aligned with marketing efforts.

Welcome to startup world! The degree of stress that startups have remains unmatched for:

– the entrepreneurs who are trying to do everything from coding to selling to dealing with the plumber for a broken faucet

– the team members who are constantly reshaping their learning curves and dealing with new work challenges every day

Your health in this type of a pressure cooker environments begets even more attention. No wonder, great companies try to create a fun-loving and stimulating environment to act as a stress buster. But we as individuals need to do more as well. Here are some tips that could help:

– Take a walk at least every 30 mins, go say hi to your colleague. It not only improves blood flow in your system, it increases your social presence

– Do standup meetings, especially if they are setup after lunch. We are sitting all day long and feel lethargic after lunch. Standup meetings keep us alert and active

– Keep your workspace exciting. Pictures of family, friends can be a huge source of excitement and happiness at work place. A souvenir from your favourite destination or your favourite sport item are great appeasers.

– Participate in office activities, in fact – take lead on making arrangements for everyone if hosting a team lunch or an outing, etc.. This gives a great tangential setting to bust work stress and you come back to work with a sense of accomplishment and happiness if your efforts get appreciated.

– Eat healthy. It is easier said than done but being conscious about what you eat can be a good first step. And being conscious of frequency and quantity of your meal can be a huge second step.

At Savetime, we are trying everything we can to make the work environment exciting, fun and healthy. We would love to get more ideas on how to make work places better especially for a startup environment.

Mitesh Bohra, CEO & Co-founder

Mitesh is CEO, Co-founder at He has been working in the industry for over 16 years and this is his 3rd startup after InfoBeans and Infosignz. Mitesh is a BE in Electronics from India and has dual MBA from Columbia Business School, New York and Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, California.

Building the Patient Community – Join us, Join the Revolution

A lot has been said and written over the years about the state of the patients in India and about the Medical Industry as a whole.

How patients suffer due to non-availability of doctors in remote areas, negligence of doctors, due to adulterated drugs/bad manufacturing practices, not being able to afford the medical costs, etc.

Every day when you open the newspaper or switch on the news channel there is some or the other story about the patient’s plight, government ignorance towards medical malpractices and such.

Near home or another scenario is a friend or family member falls sick and suddenly we need to find the doctor. And the word doesn’t stop at that, we don’t only need to find the doctor but there is a need to find the ‘right‘ doctor when it comes to our near and dear ones. How many times you think before taking your old parents to a doctor? How scary is it when you have to take your two year old kid to an unknown doctor for vaccination?

Will the doctor be good? Will he treat my parents with compassion? Will he put my kid at ease before the vaccination? Does the doctor specializes in treating the condition for which we are reaching out to him? How much will the doctor charge? Will there be unnecessary tests that the doctor will recommend? and hundreds of other such questions come to our mind. Probably the most important of them “Will the doctor be able to cure me soon?”

So faced with many questions before choosing a doctor to go to, the only solace we can find is if some of our friends, or family have been to the doctor before and if they can share their experience with us. How many times have we ask or have been asked this question or a similar one “Yaar kisi acche ENT ko jaante ho kya?” And if even one person knows a good ENT and suggests, that’s the best that you can expect as of today.

Though the patient community in India is huge it is also unorganized. The information flow except for the traditional word of mouth is absolutely nil. Even with the advent of social technologies and leaps in communication media in the country, there is a dearth of information and interaction within the patient community.

And due to the lack of information the patient community suffers. A person who is looking for the ‘right‘ pediatrician for his kids ailments finds himself alone with no information and tries out his luck similar to a gambler in a casino, with whichever doctor he finds. He has no clue if the doctor is well qualified, if he is affordable, compassionate or what are the experiences of other people with him.

The time has come when “We the Patient Community” should rise, should get together and start a revolution to end this era of information drought, fight against the malpractices, painful experiences with the existing medical system, help bring to justice the wrong doers because of whom we or our loved ones have to suffer sometime or the other and most importantly we help and collaborate with fellow patients to make their lives easy and arm them with information to take the right decision when it comes to doctors or any other medical service(s). is trying to support this revolution by building the first ever platform for patient community where patients can interact, share their experiences, favorite doctors, help out fellow patients and contribute in many other ways to the community.

Your participation in this is requested. To start with you can go to, search for the doctor you have been to and share your experience in the ‘recommend‘ section for community to benefit from it and being able to take the right decision. And if you consider your doctor to be the ‘right‘ doctor for you, do mark that doctor as right as well.

As this age-old video brilliantly displays the concept of ‘ekta‘ Oneness, or Solidarity, we will also need to practice the same. We will need to be ‘One‘ in this journey, help out each other, fight against malpractices, injustice as one then only we would be able to make a difference.


Abhinav is CTO at Besides the work he likes to be involved in several different exciting things.  Technology interests him but more than that the usage of technology to solve real world problems excites him more.  Working with teams to achieve difficult targets and in the process helping individuals realize their full potential is one of  his skills. He is an ardent blogger and social media enthusiast. When not working, he is either blogging, reading or bicycling.

EMI – the entrepreneurship killer

“EMI hua kam tau ghoomne chale hum” – the SBI home loan ad which is running rampant during the IPL matches is an embarrassing testament to the state the new Indian generation is headed towards. The dream of owning a home some times changes one’s life to a level that we often wonder whether we are working just to pay our loans or worse, making money for the housing finance companies. The monster called EMI has grown so big that taking a family vacation has become an after thought despite of manifold growth in purchasing power of an average middle class family.

“Ghar ka EMI dene ke baad kuch bachta hai kya?” – how did we get to that state in the first place that we can’t afford anything else after our EMI  – Peer pressure? Our desires and dreams getting us to stretch ourselves? Risk taking attitude? Investment in an appreciating asset so you can have a pot of gold at the end if you sell it?

Oh wait a second…aren’t some of these attributes similar to what ticks an entrepreneur as well? Isn’t entrepreneurship about dreams and desires getting us to stretch ourselves, about taking risks, about that end state where you attain a pot of gold in the form of growth and success and in some cases through handsome exits?

So, does this mean there is an entrepreneur in each of us who is getting killed everyday because we chose to mortgage all those great entrepreneurship traits in one lock-in called “EMI”? This is food for thought for all the folks who have a spark somewhere in their belly for start-ups/entrepreneurship and feel stuck.

I have gone through this EMI experience myself only to realize that its not worth trading my start-up attributes with a home where I feel “house arrested” every day. I have chosen to nip it in the bud and not let it grow to be a monster that I may not be able to handle. As a happy renter for last 15 years, I would rather make owning a house an easy by-product, when I  build a successful start-up.

Life is short, there is never enough time to realize one’s dream. I have chosen to save my time. I have chosen to run savetime. Are you saving your time?

Mitesh Bohra, CEO & Co-founder

Mitesh is CEO, Co-founder at He has been working in the industry for over 16 years and this is his 3rd startup after InfoBeans and Infosignz. Mitesh is a BE in Electronics from India and has dual MBA from Columbia Business School, New York and Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, California.