How has the pandemic impacted the telemedicine industry?
COVID19 was a game-changer for the telemedicine industry. With lockdown protocols in order and hospitals brimming with patients in crumbling infrastructure, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare rapidly issued India’s first guidelines for the use of telemedicine. This was a welcome decision as people could still access healthcare in-situ from a basic smartphone at very affordable rates. According to Oxfam’s recent report, the second wave of the pandemic hit the rural areas of the country more severely and the same low-income groups saw a five-time rise in discrimination against Covid positive patients. This meant that thousands of injured or sick individuals had zero access to a health centre let alone access to a diagnostic professional. Digitization is a great leveler as access to good healthcare, sturdy diagnostics & testing, qualified pathologists, doctors, and medical personnel are just a click away. This is a huge step towards universalizing healthcare as a basic human right across India.
How do you see the telemedicine landscape changing over the coming years?
A RedSeer report stated that currently, India has 9 beds per 10,000 people which is far below the WHO mandated 40 beds and 1 nurse per 10,000. The pandemic has been a steep learning curve towards further adoption of telemedicine or virtual healthcare. It is the need of the hour given the tenuous situation of India’s healthcare system. The next few years will see increased penetration of virtual healthcare in urban and rural areas resulting in a lowered pressure on the physical infrastructure. Not only will patients have access to a huge network of the best practitioners but also bring consumers from marginally ignored markets under the umbrella of quality health care at affordable rates.
Your thoughts on telemedicine working in the rural areas?
Imagine a scenario where a father travels miles with his sick son to visit a doctor who may or may not be available. Without access to a proper diagnosis and desperate for help, they turn to unqualified quacks or attendants for advice, resulting in taking inappropriate medication and causing further complications and even death. This scenario happens very often in rural areas that have little to no access to medical facilities. By digitally bridging the last mile health care access through the Cartula Health app, appropriate and timely help can be received that can be the difference between life and death.We have already started creating awareness amongst the villages of UP, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu by organising more than 1800+ on ground health camps.Though technology got a great push because of the ongoing pandemic, we faced a lots of challenges in terms of technology adoption in rural areas possibly due to lack of knowledge and awareness. We observed that the masses wanted to hold on to the old method of treatments because that is comfortable for them. But fortunately, with the help of health workers and with full government support, we were able to provide better access and improved medical facilities via app. So far, we have covered 150+ villages.
Cartula Health India initiatives
Cartula Health Indiahas also launched a specialist care vertical for women – to give information on pre and postnatal care with the understanding and research that indicates that India has one of the highest mortality rates during childbirth the world over. Cartula maternal health app since it’s launch has provided free Tele consultation to women to support them in their motherhood journey. We received a huge success with 7,00,000 downloads in and around rural areas. The need of Telehealth and Telemedicine is more in underdeveloped and rural areas. Even though the adoption is slower, we are trying to create a healthcare bridge and improved the overall health of the area.
Why did Cartula International expand into the Indian market? What opportunity does it foresee? And after the Indian market, which other markets does Cartula plans to venture into?
After having a strong presence in Australia and Indonesia, we saw a huge opportunity in bridging the yawning gap in the last mile diagnostics and testing services and healthcare in rural India. We created a unique solution that eliminates the shortcomings in the present system. So, with a single-minded aim to cater the demand of the rural public, while offering them with all the support needed in healthcare, we decided to venture into the Indian market. With an aim to convert the nation into a ‘Swasth India’, Cartula Health India is surging ahead in the industry by offering the best affordable and accessible health care solutions to the people. The aim is to make sure that every needed person gets the best healthcare options in one click. We are not following any map to be focused on for promoting the telehealth, our vision is to serve every individual.
Please share more insights on Cartula Health India and what sets it apart from the rest
Cartula Health India offers one of the cheapest services in the Indian market when it comes to teleconsultation service – for as low as Rs.100 for a plethora of health concerns. The app is user-friendly, available in more than 7 vernacular languages especially for the rural populace as it is built on a strong tech stack that makes use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. There is 24×7 healthcare access to all non-emergency health services.
Cartula Janani gives information on pre and postnatal care as research suggests that India is one of the leading countries with a high mortality rate during childbirth. It is the CSR arm of Cartula Health India that is available to anyone and everyone in need without any monetary transactions involved.Cartula Health India is also coming up with health, well-being, and sexual products soon along with ambulance facilities in the near future.
Cartula Health is akin to a platform for international coaches for conducting webinars, knowledge sessions and live coaching for the Indian market. We have a panel of 4500 diagnostic centers across 100 cities since the entry in the Indian market in March 2021. We have also tied up and partnered with e-pharmacy behemoths like PharmEasy, Apollo, 1MG, and MedLife for door-to-door delivery services that are now finally available to the last mile.