A Tile for a Smile – How we did it at Savetime?

jagritiLast week the entire country celebrated the “Joy of Giving” week (02-October to 08-October) by sharing money, time, resources, skills with the less privileged. This is one festival that has gained a huge prominence over the years and though there should not be a fixed period of sharing but having one such week in a year helps focus energies.

At Savetime we celebrated the Joy of Giving week this year by doing our bit, a small contribution for “NFBM Jagriti School for Blind Girls” which is situated at Alandi, Pune.

Jagriti School for Blind Girls is a non-religious and non-political entity, they take care of 140 blind girls who come from across Maharashtra. They provide food, shelter, education, vocational training, help with employment, etc. and tries to make them self-reliant. The school is for the blind and managed and run by the blind. It strives for Equality of Opportunity for the Blind in their Education, Training and Employment.

They have an ambitious goal of expanding their campus by constructing a Hi- Tech Model school complex, which comprises of a school, a hostel and a vocational training center of excellence. Despite of 4 years of construction efforts, the work progress has been slow. The construction is entering a critical phase where flooring needs to be done. They require 10,000/- pieces of tile slabs costing Rs 350/- each.

In an effort to reach out to the community, they have recently launched “A tile for a smile” campaign. The idea is for an individual to at a minimum sponsor one tile that can help bring smile on the faces of the blind girls and can pave the way for their bright future.

We at savetime are proud to be associated with them and happy to help them out in our small way. You too can help them out by taking this campaign to your office, societies or at an individual level.

Many times we want to do something for the less privileged and help out the ones in need but we don’t know how?”.  So we thought of putting our experiences together with the intent that perhaps it will help some of you to plan it in your organizations. Here’s how we did it:

1. Communicate and explain verbally – Now a days there is so much literature that floats in our email box that sometimes we miss the important things. So we communicated verbally about this campaign in a short meeting. This helps as people who have questions can ask them upfront and confusions about the objective can be resolved. In the end tell everyone to expect an email with the details so that it doesn’t get lost in the melee.

2. The Logistics – We kept company envelopes (plain white/brown works too) in which people can put their contribution (Cash/Cheques/DD). Put a notebook along with a pen so that donors can write their name, address, contact number and place it along with their donations, this is very important because anonymous donations are not accepted by NGOs and also because the receipts for the same will be forwarded by the School in the name and address of the contributors. And a glue stick so that people can put their contribution amount, their details and seal the envelope, this is important to keep the secrecy of the donations made. The envelopes are later on opened by the Jagriti School only. Last item, we kept a cardboard box wrapped with a white paper (you can put your company’s logo or any small message for donors) that can hold envelopes (have a big enough box so that it can hold all the envelopes or be ready with multiple boxes if the size is small). You might be surprised with the response by your colleagues, we definitely were.

3. Send out that Email – Once you are ready with the logistics, send out the email giving a context of the earlier discussion. Giving a little detail about the Jagriti School. We used the following in our email:

As part of Joy of Giving week we are supporting the “NFBM Jagriti School For Blind Girls” initiative of “A Tile for a Smile.

We have kept a box in the cabin near reception, if you are interested in donating please put your donation (Cash/Cheque/DD) in the envelope kept alongside the box and drop it in the box. Also provide your details Name, Address, Contact# so that the school can provide you the receipt for the donation amount. Please ensure you stick the envelope before dropping it in the box which will ensure the secrecy of your donation.

Minimum amount for donation is INR 350 (the cost of 1 tile) and you can even donate more if you can and would like to.

If you are writing a cheque or DD, please make it in the name “NFBM Jagriti School For Blind Girls

The box will be kept till 08-October and after that we would forward the donations to Jagriti school.

Please note, this is not mandatory but we would encourage, if you can then please donate.

If you have any questions please revert back to this email.

4. Keep the box for a few days – Depending on the size of your organization keep the box for a few days, even if your organization is small keep it for a minimum of 2 days because sometimes people are just busy, sometimes they forget to carry donation amount, etc.

5. We did it! – At the end of the period call up Jagriti School and someone will be at your office to pickup the donations. Hand over the box infront of everyone to Jagriti School personnel.  Hurrah you did it!

6. Thank Everyone – In the end, don’t forget to thank everyone for their contributions without them it wouldn’t have been possible and give a pat on your back too.

A small initiative of yours can help brightening the lives of many blind girls and they can have a future they never imagined for. So please go ahead and Just Do it!

If there are any other queries regarding arranging the drive you can mail as at accounts@savetime.com. If can find more information about Jagriti School at www.nfbm.org or you can contact Mrs. Sakina Bedi from Jagriti School at 9823061133.

Beat the October Heat!

October heatIn the Indian sub-continent, during the month of October and November the sun is gradually moving towards south weakening the monsoon trough or low pressure trough over the northern plains. As the south-west monsoon winds weaken and start withdrawing, the low pressure trough is gradually replaced by the high pressure-system. During this period of transition from the hot and humid rainy season to the dry winter conditions, the day temperatures are high while the night are comparatively cooler and pleasant. As the land is still moist and the weather becomes rather oppressive during the day, this transition is known as the October heat.

October heat begins with the hot and scorching heat in the day with cold chilly nights. It is this inconsistency in the weather conditions that greatly affect wellbeing resulting in ailments. Busy preparing for the winter not many take necessary precautions to beat the October heat. This is one of the major reason people tend to fall sick during the month of October and November.

Heat stress is one of the chief concerns during October that is the direct cause of many heat-related maladies including heat exhaustion and heat-stroke. Heat stress is related to increase in spreading diseases especially climate-sensitive waterborne and diarrhea disease.

The sultry weather during the day causes a major imbalance in the electrolytes of your body that makes you rush to the doctor. Simply put, this refers to a disturbance in the level of electrolytes like calcium, sodium, and potassium that is essential for normal functioning and well-being.

The disproportion in the body is due to the fluctuating temperatures, which is also one of the reasons that keep the virus active. The erratic temperatures result in excessive perspiration, weakness and body pain; seasonal flu is also on the rise during this time of October.

Though the sun rises after the cloudy and rainy monsoons and one wishes to get out in the sun extra care needs to be taken to shield from the ill effects of October heat. One of the best ways to clout the October heat is to drink plenty of water; you can drink electral powder mixed in water to maintain the electrolyte levels in your body.

Stay indoors during peak sunny hours and this does not mean you stay put closed in your rooms for long. Just stay aerated and hydrated and you are ready to take on the day. Wear light-colored clothes during the day but don’t forget to carry a warm sweater or jacket if you are often outdoors in late evenings.

One of the best ways to stay fit during this unpredictable weather change is to remain physically active. Go for a walk in the mornings or evenings or indulge in a sport of your choice, but do compensate for the water loss especially if you sweat profusely.

By Shraddha Barde

image source: readywisconsin.wi.gov

Stress is just hype; only simple daily habits can defeat it

Stress has become a very common factor that is found in working professionals, many youngsters and even teenagers. Having the spirit to excel and giving your best is one thing and worrying about it all the time is another. When it comes to stress, it is only YOU who can help yourself. It’s as simple as accepting the fact, problems won’t stop occurring if you stress more. You will never be able to remove stress from your life completely, issues are going to creep up every now and then, and people around you (your parents, siblings, colleagues, seniors, managers)are going to expect higher and better performance every time.

It all comes down to how well you manage your stress.

Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This may not sound simple but in reality if you sit down and think, you will come up with a list on your own. The real reason of stress is not always obvious and more than often you tend to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings and behaviors. You are aware that you are constantly worried about work deadlines but the real reason may be your procrastination that lands you in a soup.

Stress management comes with practice, you need to exercise habits. Your to-do list is never going to be complete and more tasks will keep adding but there is one task that should never come off your to-do list: Relax.

The following tips if practiced daily may help you manage your stress. Just a mere couple of minutes from your schedule and you’ll be fresh and energized to take what the day brings!

Meditate

Meditation is one of the best ways to help you ease anxiety. Research has shown that when you meditate daily the neural paths in your brain may alter making you more pliant to stress. Meditation is a very simple process, sit up straight with both feet on the floor (you may also sit cross legged on the floor the bottom line is to sit up straight). Once you get comfortable, focus your attention on reciting a mantra loudly or silently that makes you feel positive. It can be anything like “I feel at peace” or “I am the strongest”. You can place your hands on your belly to sync the mantra with your breaths.

Just Breathe

Every time you feel you are worked up or beginning to stress due to the work load, take 5 minutes off and focus on your breathing. You can do this sitting at your desk in office, all you have to do is take deep breaths, inhale and exhale fully. Taking deep breaths releases stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure.  5 minutes may seem a lot when at work but even if you try focusing on work you will be less productive. So take time off and just breathe!

Be Present

Live the moment, it’s as simple as that! You rush through dinner, hurry to reach the destination; you are running the race to strike off another to-do from your list. For a change try something different, try to slow down. Focus on the thing you are doing right now! If you’re having food, enjoy the texture and taste of every bite, notice how air feels on your face while walking or driving. When you are working concentrate on the task at hand and not about the problems that will arise in the next task. When you start to spend time in the moment and focus on your senses, you should feel the relaxation that grips your body and be more productive.

 Reach out

Very often you hear people saying, “Those were the golden, carefree days when we talked so much!” One of the major reasons that add to stress is not talking to family and friends. Take time out from your “busy” schedules to catch up with friends. Talk about worries that are troubling you and it will surprise you that talking out loud to your friends can do wonders to your mood. A good social support system plays a major role when dealing with stress. Meet friends face-to-face and spend time with them without talking or thinking of the to-do list, just have a good time! Having a good laugh is a great way to better manage whatever is stressing you out.

Listen to your body

Whether you believe it or not, your body is constantly talking to you, giving you signs to handle it with care. One of the best ways to manage stress and stay fit is to take up a sport of your choice – anything that requires physical involvement. Join a gym and more importantly go regularly, participate in a physical group activity you love whether it is cycling, running, football, table tennis or badminton. Just sweat it out at least for 45 minutes once in a day. You will be surprised by the wonders working on you. After continuous practice, you will see and feel the difference in you and your reaction to tension.

– By Shraddha Barde

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.