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.

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Niti Munjal

Dietician by Profession but an IT professional by heart who believes that marriage of IT and Healthcare is the way to go to improve lifestyle and health of people in the country.

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