Doctor apps to the rescue

India is one of many countries facing severe shortage of trained medical professionalsóincluding nurses, dentists, and administratorsóbut especially doctors. By the most recent data, the United States has 2.672 doctors per 1,000 people, and 3.1 hospital beds per 1,000 people. India, on the other hand, has a mere 0.599 doctors and 0.9 hospital beds per 1,000 people.

Going by these numbers, India would need almost 2.4 million new doctors and over 2 million more hospital beds to reach the same proportions as the United States! These shortages have wide ranging effects on both the local and the global level, and the potential to create a plethora of secondary problems.

With the spiraling cost of healthcare across the world and especially in India, consumers are looking for any assistance to reduce medical expenses and stay healthy. Toss the coin to other side and you will see that doctors are also seeking ways to improve their relationship with their patients, increase patient communication and their adherence to prescribed regimens, with the overarching plan to improve the quality of care. And both parties have found a common platform: mobile health or mHealth.

mHealth is pushing the boundaries of how to acquire, transport, store, process, and secure the raw and processed data to deliver meaningful results. It offers the ability of remote individuals to participate in the health care value matrix, which may not have been possible in the past. Apart from consumption of health care services, mHealth allows remote users to send in valuable data regarding disease and public health concerns such as outdoor pollution, drugs and violence. This strengthens the hand of pharma companies to produce better drugs and governments to deliver better health services at the right time to the right people.

In the case of government, doctors, patients and employers are increasingly adopting mHealth's innovative devices, compelling applications (apps) and seamless connectivity to save time, budgets without compromising quality of the healthcare. Medical apps offer the opportunity to monitor health and encourage patient wellness on a moment-to-moment basis, instead of the occasional visit to the doctor's chamber. It also helps in the case of critical care patients or post-operative patients for the doctor decide whether the symptom warrants a visit to the doctor's office or a tele-consultation will suffice.

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