Information Technology and Medical Practitioners have always been at logger head

Recently at 3rd Medtech Conference in Delhi, one of the key issues that was raised by practicing doctors was that current crop of doctors coming out of college don’t have much exposure to technology and how to use technology in practice. In fact CEO of Batra Hospital (Dr Sanjeev Bagai) even went to the extent and suggested to honorable health minister (Mr Diwedi) to incorporate a course in medical colleges through which doctors can at least learn something before they are out of college. It was also pointed out in the current curriculum doctors have 1 week of technical course in their entire 5.5 yrs of M.B.B.S and that too is optional. May be the example quoted was that of a particular medical college and mightn’t be true across the board but If that is the state of Medical colleges today, we can understand to what extent current generation of practicing doctors, who graduated some years ago, are familiar or comfortable with technology. This also makes me wonder as to how many doctors have email-ids and surf web or keep themselves abreast with the latest technological changes happening and changing the medical world.

Anyway there are a number of other issues and solutions that technology can bring into picture which is transparency, analytics of tonnes of data that gets generated, family genealogy and hence better understanding of current diseases and may be better medicines.

Along with above highlighted benefits a large part of India’s population is still under served. People don’t have access to any sort of medical facilities – technology can provide answer to such issues and help medical services reach under served and under privileged but at the same time Government has to ensure that certain critical requirements of Telemedicine are met so as to aid the delivery of health care services through internet and telephone. Proper medical and taxation laws need to be framed so as to give a thrust to this sector at the same time govt should also provide subsidy for import of equipment required for delivery of these services at a subsidized rate.

With transparency – Income tax and other medico legal cases are also bound to go up which in a way is good for the health of industry as it will bring in accountability of the acts of Service providers and give more power in hands of service seekers. Also transparency by publishing things (EMR) over the web will ensure that illegal activities of some service providers like female foeticide etc. come down.

Some of the things talked about in the paragraphs above like EMR are long term and India would take at least 10-15 years to make some progress but various models of Telemedicine will come in front of us in this duration. As necessity is the mother of all inventions so is Telemedicine an answer to some of the health problems of India. www.RxOcean.Com is an initiative in that direction.

About the Author: Author is co-founder of www.RxOcean.com and can be contacted at nitimunjal@rxocean.com. Having founded www.Rxocean.com in 2009 author dreams of setting up a virtual hospital and bring transparency and affordability of medical services across India and developing world.

Large Numbers of IT Workers Resort to Smoking

A large number of IT / ITES workers (Guys as well as Girls) smoke. Although there are tonnes of ill effects of smoking but after talking to a number of my clients in IT and BPO sector – we have noticed one common issue which they highlight. Most of these people always say that “Smoking aids in Weight Loss – so why should we discontinue that?”

In a sense they are right but we need to select the lesser of two evils. It is true that nicotine in cigarettes affects body weight by increasing the metabolic rate and hence the number of calories burnt. It also decreases appetite and thus the food intake. So once you quit smoking you may gain some weight but it is not a hard and fast rule. At times there is an urge to eat sweet foods or eat more when not smoking. To prevent this, keep low calorie foods handy and try to follow a healthy diet and exercises. You’ll soon see a change in your fitness levels. Just keep in mind that the health risk associated with slight weight gain are negligible in comparison to tremendous positive health effects of quitting

Dadima’s Home Remedies for Diabetes

1) Bitter Gourd – Karela. This vegetable can be had as often as one can. People also recommend having its juice to reduce blood sugar levels.
2) Amla: Amla is a rich source of vitamin C and is considered to be effective in controlling diabetes. Its affects along with that of Bitter gourd juice have been widely studied in Ayurveda. Along with Bitter gourd juice it helps pancreas secrete more insulin.
3) Basil Leaves: Tulsi Leaves along with neem leaves and belpatras are also advised to patients of diabetes. Ten tulsi leaves, ten neem leaves along with ten belpatras can be had with a glass of water early morning on an empty stomach.
4) Fenugreek seeds in various forms is also advised to people with Diabetes. Some people recommend having two teaspoons of powdered Fenugreek seeds with milk and some suggest to swallow Two teaspoons of seeds.
5) Shilajit along with juice of stone apple is also considered good for Diabetes
6) Fresh fully grown curry leaves if had every morning continuously for 3-4 months have also shown to cure diabetes due to hereditary and obesity.
7) Jamun and powder of its seed is also recommended for Diabetes
8)Gurmar is also said to have shown good results in lowering blood sugar. This herb can be an excellent substitute for oral blood sugar-lowering drugs in Type 2 diabetes. Even Onion and garlic are considered to have significant blood sugar lowering action.

Although all the above are widely publicized dadima’s diabetes cure but enough research data on the efficacy of these doesn’t exist. People should continue taking their medicines along with these so that their sugar levels don’t shoot up. It is very important to control stress. Avoid fatigue, and emotional upsets. Stresses create anxiety that send damaging hormones racing through your system. Exercise can be used to control stress. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to prevent diabetes and controlling blood sugar levels.

The Doctor is not in Anymore

I recently read an article in Hindustan Times “The Doctor is not in Anymore” by Namita Bhandare and couldn’t resist writing a reply to the same. Following is my reply to Namita:

I read your article in Hindustan Times “The Doctor is not in Anymore” and couldn’t agree more. The way medical profession has changed and doctors treat their patients is not a good sign. It is not just that they are hard pressed for time and want to see as many patients as possible but I feel it is more to do with the greed of the society overall which has affected doctors as well thus making patients mere numbers for them. Who doesn’t want to make more money? Fees of doctors have skyrocketed without realizing that they are treating Indians and not Americans. It is very normal to end up paying (INR 800-900) $20 per visit in a good hospital in Gurgaon – meant only for top of the pyramid. At the same time some doctors stoop to a level wherein they prescribe medicines of companies where they get a cut and patients end up paying 500% more (on Oct 16th NPPA asked companies to slash their medicine prices by 85%) than the normal price of the medicine Or prescribe unnecessary tests. So is the art of diagnosis dying or Doctors want it to die? But is it just the doctors who are at fault and not the patients? Internet has made medical knowledge accessible to everyone to an extent that people start feeling they can do self medication or take advice of that friendly neighborhood chemist who is always more than willing to oblige without consulting a doctor (may be coz of the prohibitive fees). Every other friend or person you talk to can give you his/her advice on medicines that you should take. Leading to abuse of OTC drugs and even Antibiotics (which are available at all medicine shops without prescription) and complicating medical cases. At times this leads patients to a hospital for issues when the normal treatment from a GP at right time would have been able to sort out things. So is all the hope lost ? I feel answers to these problems lie in Technology, which can bridge the gap. Although technology has created issues for us but at the same time the way technology is shaping up daily, I feel that GP is again going to be closer to the patient than one thinks. In fact that GP would be right next to you when you need him / her. Although that day is some good 5-7 yrs away from us but it is going to happen. Web portals like www.RxOcean.com are trying to use technology and bring that doctor and patient closer to each other again. So that neither the doctor nor the patient has to travel miles but at the same time they stay connected to each other forever so that human touch and feeling of trust and assurance remains an integral part of medicine and doesn’t get lost. On the other hand, Medical community also realizes that all is not well. The concept of a GP who used to treat all the normal ailments and used to send patients to a specialist when things really required that is also being re-introduced by Medical Fraternity in the form of Family Medicine. As of today only DNB in family Medicine exists but talks are going on to introduce MD in Family Medicine. So that Family Physicians can take care of normal medical issues till the time need of a specialist arises – and even direct the patients to the right specialist and not let him/her do trial and error.

Thus the time is not far away when we the consumer / patient gets best of both the worlds, assurance of our family GP and at same time convenience of getting treated at home. But we would have to pay some price for that and that price is self-discipline without which all the efforts will go in vain.

Second Opinion in India

Seeking second opinion for a medical problem means evaluating the patient for the same medical problem to give another opinion on the diagnosis or the proposed plan of care.

At times it is required in difficult situations wherein the patient is apprehensive of a surgery or a complex medical problem or when the treatment has been going on since long without showing effective results. Even at times a family physician, also known as a family doctor in India, seeks second opinion of a specialist in a complicated condition. Although there is no data to understand how many people are seeking second opinion as at times patient don’t reveal to their family physician about the second opinion he / she has sought which could be cause of various reasons including but not limited fear of losing trust of the family physician. At the same time they seek second opinion when they patients are not satisfied with the services being availed. Moreover some malpractices by doctors are also leading to increased use of second opinion particularly where costs are prohibitive and involve surgery. Even if treatment doesn’t involve surgery, Second opinion is also valuable in case of chronic diseases.

Need for second opinion will also grow when various insurance companies try to seek second opinion of doctors to understand whether the treatment done was actually required or not. There have been concerns raised in the past that doctors have resorted to expensive treatments when the same ailment could have been treated at a much lower cost. This assumes further significance when dealing with the lives of patients particularly in cases of coronary diseases where expensive stents are used.

Unfortunately in a country like India where there is lack of transparency in medicine and medicines and pathological tests (by few physicians) are prescribed keeping in mind self interests (Gifts and commission from Pharma companies and Pathlabs),Second opinion will become more prevalent with every passing day. Companies like RxOcean have taken the first step in that direction. All sorts of specialists (critical care specialists, pediatricians, orthopedicians, family physicians, diabetes specialists) are available under one umbrella called as RxOcean and they are just a click away from the patients.