The health sector is one of the fastest growing in India. According to some statistics, the industry size is expected to touch $160 billion by the end of 2017. This growth can be attributed to rising awareness among people about their health, easy access to information and a growing capacity to spend on better healthcare facilities.
So it would have been strange if the smartphone segment was also not part of this sector. There are already a large number of fitness and medical apps that let users track their fitness, consult doctors and even make appointments online. Healthcare apps like Practo, Lybrate, 1mg are in fact exploring areas like getting lab test results online and finding cheaper substitutes for expensive medicines.
We look at some such apps and find out how they can make our lives easier.
If you are really using apps to book your doctor appointments and consult them online, then you must be well aware of Practo. Practo is one of the best apps available right now in this category. The company claims that one can choose from up to two lakh verified doctors.
On the homepage, it lists specialists to choose from like dentist, gynecologist, ayurveda, general physician etc and lists nearby clinics based on your location. It is a well-designed app and showed me almost every clinic present in my area when I searched for a dentist, gynecologist or dermatologist. One can then call or book appointments depending on whether the clinic is open.
Practo has you covered with answers to all your primary questions. It shows a doctor’s qualification, experience, clinic timings, consultation fees and approx distance from your location. It is a good app for people who do not rely on a fixed family doctor. It is also good for emergency consultations or medical needs at odd hours and holidays where one is not sure whether their nearest clinic is open or not.
It could have added a rating system which would have helped you make up your mind on a certain doctor instead of banking only on their qualifications. It, however, shows the number of recommendations from people on doctors’ profiles after they avail the services.
Also, one can consult doctors free of cost through the app, though there is no fixed or defined time for getting a response. I posted a query which was pending for a few hours. while such platforms can be a boon, you will need to be careful not to start self diagnosis as you could overlook serious ailments.
Lybrate, in addition to providing options to book appointments, lets you consult doctors online and ask free questions. Plus, it provides health stories/tips from various doctors in your news feed. One can also customise the same to receive more stories of their interest. The news feed also lets you browse through weight loss packages, diabetic control programme packages and other similar programs offered by doctors.
The one thing where Lybrate lags is that it does not list as many clinics in your vicinity as Practo does. Even when I searched for dentists in Noida, it showed me clinics in Faridabad, Gurgaon and Delhi, whereas Practo shows you many options even within a 2-3 km range. The street-by-street mapping of Practo is so accurate that you would actually be able to recognise the clinics listed on it in your neighborhood.
Lybrate also offer online consultations both free and paid. Lybrate is faster in answering queries as I got mine answered within half an hour on the app. While one just needs to post their queries and wait for a reply from a doctor for a free query, paid consultations can be made to dentist, dermatologist, dietician etc of your choice. One can also upload prescriptions, documents etc to share them with a doctor, family, friends etc.
The 1mg app lets you order medicine online, book lab tests and search for nearest doctors. The app is quite similar to Lybrate and features popular health related articles on its home page. 1mg offers discounts on lab tests such as Vitamin Profile test by Thyrocare Labs will cost you Rs 12,000 after 25 per cent discount and a pre-marital profile test will cost you Rs 1239 on the app right now. All you need to do is enter your details for pick-up of samples.
However, this app too is not very useful in finding doctors in your vicinity as it does not show you many options which are close. Although it does list a couple of clinics in your neighborhood, it doesn’t come with up many options.
Ordering medicines on 1mg was quite hassle-free as it did not require a prescription. The app has an option of ‘Send Later’ for prescription wherein one gets the required medicines delivered but can mail the prescription later. But keeping in mind the fact that we do not have a proper guideline or regulation to control the sale of drugs online till date, this can be termed as both an advantage and a disadvantage of the app.
While it is simple and convenient especially for elderly and bedridden patients, there are high chances of drugs being mixed up or misused. Also, the drugs delivered online do not come with instructions or an assurance of quality.
Diabeto more or less works on the same lines as the previously mentioned apps, except that it is specifically designed to keep a track sugar levels for diabetic patients. The app is in beta stage and will be rolled out for Android and iOS soon. Diabeto is a brilliant app for those who want to monitor and analyse their blood sugar levels over regular intervals.
It works seamlessly by connecting your mobile app to glucometer. You can select from an array of options of glucometers which include Accu check, One Touch, Relion, Bruno etc. Once synced, it gives you daily and weekly analysis of sugar levels.
The app enables users to maintain a LogBook and store data up to a year. One can also make entries of what their sugar levels were pre and post meals and how much activity did they do during the day. It maintains graphs based on the users’ habits and mails the Excel sheets to them.
Once fully operational, Diabeto will also let users consult its team of Diabetes specialists with problems. These will be paid consultations. Very few people who suffer from Diabetes monitor their blood sugar levels on a daily basis. This app, however, might change that as it looks hassle-free and easy to use.
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