Picture an eye-care facility in a remote rural town in India. Do you imagine it having obsolete equipment, dirty ambience, rickety furniture and an inattentive staff? A visit to Maddur taluka, near Channapatna in Karnataka, can prove you wrong. The city’s per capita income is a mere Rs.46,049 — way below the state average of Rs.126,976. But its 800 sq mt vision centre, managed by Drishti Eye Care, leverages telemedicine technology that is both high-end and impressive.
Well-trained staff, pre-diagnosis tests, image capturing of the eye, a system to push all these data to the cloud and an online interface which presents the data to the doctor who later interacts with the patient via a high-bandwidth skype video call. The Maddur centre offers all these astonishing facilities for a mere consultation fee of Rs.150.
For Kiran Anandampillai, Anjali Joshi and Dr Rajesh Babu B, co-founders of Disha Medical Services, which runs Drishti Eye Care, their mission is to deliver high quality, ethical and affordable eye care in the underserved markets of Karnataka.
From darkness to light
For a city like Bengaluru, which has a population of 10 million, there are 200 eye hospitals and 900 ophthalmologists. But in most districts of Karnataka with a population of 1-2 million, the numbers shrink to 2-3 eye hospitals and 3-5 ophthalmologists. Development of eye care infrastructure in districts has been dismal compared with those in larger cities, and this has resulted in denial of access to quality eye care for a large section in the lower strata of the economic pyramid. Drishti is looking to cover as many people as possible in the middle and bottom layers of the pyramid with the help of technology. “Even if you are in a remote district, we want to manage the most difficult and complicated cases,” says Anandampillai.
Drishti currently has five hospitals, four eye care centres and four mobile clinics across five districts, including nine talukas, in Karnataka. This includes talukas such as Devanahalli, Channapatna and Kanakapura from Bengaluru rural district, Ramnagar district, Raichur, Chitradurga and Bidar. As of March 2017, Drishti had treated 226,000 patients, performed over 5,600 surgeries and sold about 56,000 g