How e-medical platforms compete with physical medical advice?

Today there are several e-medical platforms present, which help patient seek medical advisory from doctors. It will be important to review the financial impact of using or not using such platforms, which are discussed as under.

Jan 15, 2016 11:01 IST India Infoline News Service

The online industry is booming in India and the new entrant into the internet-driven technology is online medical advice. Today, several e-medical platforms are making their presence felt, helping patients get medical advice.

The emergence of these marketplaces, however, has given rise to a new debate about whether such online medical advice is on par with meeting a specialist or a doctor in-person. Moreover, it will be important to review the financial impact of using or not using such platforms, as discussed below.

How online medical advice fares in terms of costs?
A comparison between the cost of seeking online medical advice and meeting a doctor in-person reveals that the online platform is cheaper than an in-person meeting. A prescription written by a general physician online costs as low as Rs 100 as against the regular fee of Rs 200-300 charged by doctors in their clinics. Moreover, a patient will save on transportation costs and time by consulting a doctor or specialist online.

Is cost-efficiency the only criteria?
No matter how tempting it may sound to consult a doctor over the internet, but online medical advice has some limitations. It works well for those who have benign medical problems such as viral fever, headaches, and seasonal flu. But, the same is not applicable for those who have complex medical problems that may require the patient to take physical examination.

What are the risks involved?
The biggest shortcoming of online medical advice is that the patient cannot hold the doctor responsible if anything goes wrong. Most of the platforms have built their terms and conditions such that they cannot be held legally responsible.

Do e-medical platforms really create value?
An in-depth analysis of online platforms reveals that inexperienced doctors or medical practitioners can also register themselves on those sites by paying a fee. This means that the advice offered by these portals is not necessarily qualitative or coming from an experienced practitioner. Hence, one should exercise a high level of caution while taking medical advice online.

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