Practo is seeing 30 percent increase in number of consultations they are doing remotely in the last two weeks
Online doctor consultation platforms are witnessing a surge in number of consults as more people dial them to check if their symptoms have anything to do with novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
For instance, India's largest online consultation platform Practo has seen a 30 percent increase in number of consultations in the past two weeks.
Much of the queries are related to fever, cough, cold, sore throat and body ache.
The consultation requests were mostly coming from millennials living in metro cities like Bengaluru, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai and tier - 2 cities such as Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Bhubaneshwar and Indore.
"They are consulting for common cold, cough, chills and things like that. Now, the question is, how do you differentiate whether it is bacterial or just another viral or coronavirus," said Dr Alexander Kuruvilla, Chief Healthcare Strategy Officer, Practo.
Practo has put in place protocols based on WHO and Ministry of Health to profile high risk people. Their travel history is taken, a contact history is checked . Based on that, the risk is assessed.
Kuruvilla said so far none of the cases that have handled on the platform had any coronavirus disease.
Another Bengaluru based start-up Clinikk, which does tele-consultations is also seeing 30-40 percent jump in people accessing their platform to consult with doctors.
"There is some hysteria and lot of scare is making people call, which may not be very legitimate," said Dr Suraj Baliga, Co-Founder of Clinikk.
"So, for example, if there is no history of travel, if there is no history of contact with someone who is from an endemic area. If they have symptoms, they're advised to stay at home for two weeks. And if they don't have symptoms, they're just reassured that they need no further, evaluation or testing is warranted. As they take precautions, there's no reason for them to be worried," Baliga said.
Opportunity to scale
Both Practo and Clinikk are seeing an opportunity to scale.
Practo has launched a new monthly healthcare plan under the umbrella of Practo Plus. Priced at Rs 399, it is a subscription-based healthcare plan that provides unlimited online consultations with doctors from over 20 specialities.
"Unlimited online consultations encourage people to clarify their queries with specialists instead of self-diagnosing. It can also act as the first line of defense, helping curb overcrowding at hospitals and clinics," Kuruvilla of Practo said.
Clinikk is running a campaign just to reassure people that they don't have to worry and remind them about precautions to prevent disease .
"So, anybody can call our lines for free and reach out to us then we are not charging people for doing this. So this is something that we are doing for the community," Baliga said.
The growing usage of smartphones and convenience of getting an outpatient consultation done sitting anywhere, is making more people to access doctors through digital platforms like Practo, Lybrate, DocsApp, Clinikk among others. These platforms have internal team of doctors as well as ties-up with outside doctors to provide 24x7 consultation services for patients. Some of them also provide diagnostic and pharmacy services as well.