Online portals like RxOcean let patients seek second opinion from home

n the month of September 2010, Bhagwan Devi Munjal faced a decision between two types of follow-up treatments for her broken shoulder bone: the standard, six to eight week-long normal therapy which lets the bone join on its own, or surgery to join the bone and get cured within 2 weeks. Although cost wasn’t a concern but her age was. Although the orthopedician consulted had assured that the age is not a concern and surgery would be a better option as the person would be able to recover fast in case of surgery but family physician had her own doubts about the case and she wanted to seek second opinion from other specialist orthopedicians to ensure that surgery would be beneficial.

But Bhagwan Devi, 85, decided not to travel to Delhi or any other place from her current native place. Instead her family discovered that by submitting her medical records through a service available on www.RxOcean.com, she could obtain a second opinion from a top specialist without leaving home.

“It would have been very cost-prohibitive and tiresome for me to travel to couple of hospitals in different cities. I accomplished the same thing without that expense,” she says.

Online second-opinion services offer patients consultations from specialists based on the medical records that they fax, mail or send via the Internet. The average cost, payable upfront via credit card or online transfer to the bank accounts of the organization cost anywhere between INR 150 to INR 500, depending on the number and type of specialists one wants to consult. Patients then receive online access to a second opinion in about a day or two again depending upon the case. In cause of an emergency, RxOcean claims to make these services available within couple of hours thus helping the patients when they need the help most.

Since www.RxOcean.com went online in early 2010, about 100 patients have already taken advantage of the service in last six months, says Dr Kirti Soota, co-founder of the web services company. Some of the patients were not satisfied with the treatment that they were undergoing, some just wanted to ensure that treatment is ok, some people who approached us didnt understand what their doctor wanted to tell them as a result they wanted to have a word with another doctor and a few wanted to discuss issues over the phone related to their sex problems and marital problems for which they didnt want to see a doctor face to face. Many a times these problems just need counseling patients and some OTC drugs are advised. In case we feel the case is serious or diagnosis is wrong then either request the patients to get some more tests done or consult another doctor face 2 face. As was the case with Mrs Bhagwan Devi wherein 2 orthopedists on our panel independently suggested that surgery shouldnt be done coz at this age bones become very fragile.

But such cases are rare may be to the tune of around 5-10%. What we are able to do is give patients more treatment options and hopefully give the patient more peace of mind. Today, Mrs Bhagwan Devi is doing well, and her family speaks highly of their experience with a remote second opinion: “We were lucky to have landed in right hands at the right time but most of the people are not even aware of the services like Second Opinion over the web. We would like more and more people to be aware of this option.”. Dr Soota ends the discussion by saying that we want to popularize this service only by word of mouth as we cant afford to spend a lot on our marketing and advertising and end up increasing our rates which would defeat the whole purpose of formation or RxOcean to reach the masses and be able to provide quality health care services at a very nominal price.

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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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