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.

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).

Savetime.com 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 Savetime.com, 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

Abhinav is CTO at savetime.com. 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.

Solving Social Problems

One fine evening  siting in my cozy room, playing with my TV remote, jumping from channel to channel, suddenly one TV serial caught my  eye. It was “Second opinion” , it is about the tragic experiences people have in hospitals and clinics and how the wrong diagnosis or delay in treatment caused disasters to victims and a thought process started.

Everyday we watch on the news or read in newspapers about many people dying in road accidents or due to some dreadful diseases; even though the medical profession and pharmaceutical industry has advanced so much and we have medicines available for almost all diseases. I started thinking what might be the reason behind this and what can we do to control it. My train of thought resulted in this blog writeup.

Lack of education, hygiene and discipline in road traffic are the main reasons for the many lives we lose everyday on streets or in hospitals. Many people die in road accidents because they don’t get the medical attention in time. Now a days people hesitate to help, because they don’t want to disturb their normal routine. For them reaching office on time is more important than saving someones life! This reality makes me feel numb but the situation is not hopeless yet. There is still some humanity left, we just need to encourage more and more people to show it.

I don’t expect everyone to jump at the accident site or hospitals for help; though it is great idea, but even the tiniest of our every day deeds can help a great deal. For instance, while traveling always make way for an ambulance first, it may save a critical patient’s life.

I read a few days back about a group in Delhi which provides free medical treatment to poor people.

Likewise, we could buy medicines for some one who can not afford it. This reminds me of an episode from the Aamir Khan starter show “Satyamev  Jayate”. In this episode one gentleman shared his experience about how his maid’s son lost his life due to a very easily curable disease such as Diarrhea, simply because he did not receive medicine on time. This is very depressing and makes me wonder in which millennium are we living. On one hand we have reached the moon while on the other hand people die due to such mundane disease.

Then there are the donations a person can make. Blood donation is like an elixir for not only the receiver but it is also healthy for the donor. The more willing people pledge for important donations like eyes or other body organs after the death. Such pledges while being a small gesture in life, let you feel the joy of giving a new life to someone, even after you move on with the journey after life…

There are some situations like where your love and affection can do wonders that even medicines may not.  We can work with NGO’s which helps aids patients or their children, orphans, disable children. I am also trying to do something for  people who tested positive for HIV. For this I got inspired by my own family members. My father and my  younger sister work to help such people. For last five years my father is organizing AIDS awareness camps and my sister works for the “prabha-hira  pratishthan palavi pandharpur ” which is the home for  abandoned children’s tested positive for HIV. Your little help can also enlighten their lives.

And the list goes on… I hope this blog will make us all think about the current situation and doing something for this cause. Remember, even the tiniest of our every day deeds can help a great deal!

Abhijit AradhyeAbhijit is an .NET developer working for savetime.com. He did his MCS from Pune Universicity. He is very passionate about software design, Real world and how the two intersect. Love to learn new technologies. He is a passionate person who takes up responsibilities with utmost enthusiasm. He enjoys music, watching movies, selectively read books mostly written by P.L.Deshpande. He is very passionate about cricket.  He love’s swimming and Chess also.