Mumbai: Now, doctors on Twitter to engage with patients

The concept of patient redressal through Twitter will run on pilot basis until January 31.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai | Published: January 14, 2016 12:36:28 am

THE Mumbai Police’s foray into social media has inspired doctors working with government hospitals across Maharashtra to introduce a similar platform for patient redressal. Starting Thursday, patients across 14 medical colleges can log on to Twitter to voice their angst regarding treatment woes, lack of facilities, absence of essential services or doctors in wards. Resident doctors will reach out to such patients.

“It has been noticed that sometimes patients do not get prompt attention from hospital administration. The reason is because doctors are already over-worked. This handle will ensure if there is a delay for the patient, doctors posted in that department will try his best to solve it,” said Dr Sagar Mundada, President of Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD).

The concept of patient redressal through Twitter will run on pilot basis until January 31. If it succeeds, a proper team will monitor the tweets and contact respective hospitals. Doctors, however, said @mard2016 would be an unofficial handle unlike the Twitter handle of @MumbaiPolice. Complaints such as over-charging or unavailability of beds will only be passed on to hospital administrations who have the authority to tackle them. For now, the MARD chief will monitor tweets.

According to Mundada, this handle can also be used by doctors facing administrative issues, harassment by seniors or problems with maternity leaves. “We have created a team of 250 resident doctors for this. One doctor from each department per college will be the point of contact for patients,” he said.

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“Through this, doctors will become a medium between a hospital and a patient. This initiative will help those who have to run from pillar to post for treatment and diagnostic tests,” said Dr Jayesh Lele, president of Indian Medical Association, Maharashtra.

Dr Shivkumar Utture, member of the Maharashtra Medical Council, however, said several complaints such as medicine and equipment unavailability could only be handled by the administration. “Who will the patients approach for such problems? Instead, a desk or department for patient redressal should be set up.”

He said registering a complaint would also help prevent assault cases on doctors since patients would feel their complaint had been heard. Dr R N Bharmal said while the idea had a “good intention”, it would need time to evolve into an effective patient redressal tool. “Most of our patients are from lower strata of society. Most do not even know about Twitter,” he said, adding that both doctors and the administration would need to work in tandem.

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