March 2019
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Village Level Entrepreneurs as Digital Doctors

By Dr. Dinesh K. Tyagi, CEO-CSC SPV

VLE with his computer infrastructure, credibility within the community and passion to serve, can be an instrument for transforming the healthcare segment in India

In India, access to healthcare, especially for the rural population has been a challenge for the Government. Availability of infrastructure, specialists, doctors and nursing/ paramedics is very low compared to the average in developed countries. With the advent of technology, these issues can be addressed to some extent and the schemes and programmes ushered in by the Government can be leveraged to provide basic healthcare to citizens. CSCs can play a significant role here. The Village Level Entrepreneur (VLE) can act as a facilitator in enabling access to basic healthcare services to citizens. VLE with his computer infrastructure, credibility within the community and passion to serve, can be an instrument for transforming the healthcare segment in India.

It is true that about 80 percent of the human diseases can be identified without touching the human being. This means tele-consultation can become the solution for basic health needs and provide effective service delivery. India is the diabetic capital of the world. We have the largest population with cataract and one out of four person in India suffers from TB. A sizeable population of the country is also affected by Cancer. A large population in rural India suffers from neurological disorders, skin infections, and water borne diseases. Rural citizens need a facility that is close to the place of their residence, which can connect them to doctors and support in getting medicines/ treatment.

CSCs are doing tele-consultations in Homeopathy, Ayurveda and Allopathy. The citizen can choose any system of medication and the doctor as it suits him/her. This framework of giving a choice to the citizen does not bind the patient to a particular doctor or system. Homeopathy launched recently is gaining popularity within the CSC ecosystem. Doctors in regional languages are available to meet the State-specific needs, medicines are available online, dispensing medicine is easy, besides there is negligible risk in such medication. A similar argument holds valid for Ayurvedic medications too. In allopathic tele-consultation, dispensing medicines and diagnosis still remain a challenge. E-diagnosis through CSCs is being tried, though in a limited way. We need to identify an institution which can work on transaction model for diagnostics as VLE cannot spend on the capital required for such kits.

Once all VLEs attempt to utilize tele-consultation for their own family and see its benefit, then it shall be possible for them to popularize the same within the community. With two lakh consultations per month – if one VLE does one consultation in a month – CSCs can emerge as the world’s largest telemedicine network. Citizens in villages can greatly benefit and the Government can look at this system as an effective alternative for healthcare service delivery.

CSC SPV has also tied-up with an international company to enable all the VLEs to provide services for eye care. Extension of the same can prevent blindness (1.2 million become blind every year) and cataract. All VLEs can provide prescription glasses to children and adults. With this, CSCs will become e-Eye Kendras.

With 2.5 lakh Digital Doctors, the nation’s dream of universal access to healthcare can be achieved within a very short period of time

With tele-consultation, e-diagnosis, and dispensing of medicines through CSCs, VLEs will effectively become a Digital Doctor. With 2.5 lakh Digital Doctors, the nation’s dream of universal access to healthcare can be achieved within a very short period of time. VLEs can play a significant role in this endeavour. District VLE Associations through participation in Swacch Bharat Abhiyan can further contribute in promoting a healthy society.

For this, all VLEs need to subscribe to tele-health (you can begin with Homeopathy scheme) and pledge to become Digital Doctors to serve the community and extend healthcare facilities. We believe that Digital Doctors will significantly enhance the credibility and improve the business prospects of VLE to make a sustainable social enterprise.

We shall support, incentivize and add more and more services to enable VLEs to become professional healthcare service delivery facilitators.editor@ictpost.com