Feature

Easy, Breezy Wellness

From e-clinics and virtual diagnostics to apps that alert your doctor when you miss a dose, healthcare just got way more accessible

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For Rukmini, a daily wager working on a construction site in Kundsebara village in Kashipur, Uttrakhand, life was already tough. Her daughters were still in school, while her husband, Ram Singh, was struggling to make ends meet as a farmer. One day, while returning home, Rukmini fell unconscious. The local medic could not ascribe the root cause, and passed it off as fatigue. 

Now think about how this case could be treated in the past, present and future:

In the 1990s, the village did not have any specialised medical amenities for testing and diagnosing. Rukmini would either have been brought back home and have received no scientific treatment. Or she would have had to travel to Delhi for treatment — which would have meant additional expenditure. Also, she might have had to travel down to the hospital each time a follow-up was required, in the process taking the treatment cost several notches higher. 

Cut to 2019, Rukmini and her family don’t have to worry about the lack of a specialist in their area. Thanks to telemedicine, doctors located in cities can ably treat patients in any location. So Rukmini can walk into an e-clinic and connect to a specialist through audio or video conference. These clinics can also conduct a host of tests including ECG, pulse and heartbeats reading. The doctor then suggests the further course of action — either prescribes medicines or advises more detailed tests. The blood samples of these tests can be transported with the help of drones — to save time — and results interpreted through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) systems. E-consultation has been made much cheaper by start-ups, through tie-ups with various hospitals and state governments. 

Move forward to 2029. Now, Rukmini would visit a kiosk located in the village, which would be an AI-powered unmanned clinic. It would provide Rukmini video consultation with a doctor, dispense medicines based on the prescription and also run basic blood tests. If the case is found to be serious, then the doctor might recommend the patient to visit the nearest hospital for further treatment. Or, who knows, a robodoc deployed at the village and controlled remotely by a specialist may take it forward.

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