Bangalore-based Dinesh Kumar approached three different doctors to understand what the lump on his 10-year-old son’s lower back was. For almost two months, he got different responses, from Wilms’ tumour (a kidney related tumour) to spinal sarcoma (tumour of the spine). Finally, he came across an online portal that provided medical expertise of doctors from Tata Memorial Centre (TMC). A report from TMC in Kumar’s inbox three days later confirmed diagnosis of sarcoma.
Launched in May 2014, the TMC-supported portal, Navya, has received 830 medical referrals from patients and doctors of 27 countries so far, with a high trend of consultation from Bangladesh-based doctors.
“We realised people travelled from the length and breadth of the country to seek advice on cancer treatment here. This programme not only gives them a second opinion, but also saves their time and money,” said Dr Rajan Badwe, director at TMC. Kumar’s son is now undergoing chemotherapy in Bangalore after doctors from TMC checked his uploaded reports online and recommended the treatment line without even meeting him.
The ‘Navya Network’ tab, available on the hospital’s website, provides the visitor three simple steps to upload all the medical reports and put across queries for the doctor. A 20-member team of Navya in Bangalore and a larger team at Boston then puts the information together in a uniform structure and sends it to the department concerned at TMC. The doctor’s recommendations on possible treatment options are then mailed to the patients.
According to Dr Anil D’Cruz, attached with TMC, the doctor can go through the report and provide the treatment line or diagnosis without meeting the patient. “It takes us a few minutes to analyse and give our expertise. The patient can get the report in 24 hours,” he said.
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The TMC annually receives over 60,000 patients, of which 10 per cent are cases coming for second opinion. This year, 350 patients have come from abroad for either treatment or expertise.
Gitika Srivastava, CEO of Navya Network, said the online platform would be helpful for people based outside Mumbai. While a charge of Rs 5,000 for Indian citizens and $100 for international patients is applicable, the service is free for below-poverty-line patients.
“We may attach more cancer institutes in future to reach out to more people. Our aim is to get cancer care without having the trouble to travel for expert advice,” Srivastava said.