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Making Quality Health Care Easily Accessible

Teens at the Young Writers' Club brainstormed solutions for a real life problem- enabling easy access to quality healthcare.


Finding a good doctor to consult can be a challenging and stressful experience. On the other hand a good doctor needs recommendations for patients to consider them. How to connect these two parties?

For the sake of the discussion, we considered a hypothetical situation.

Maya has just moved to a new city. She falls sick and needs to see a doctor. She can’t ask anyone as she doesn’t know anyone yet. Can technology help her?A good Dr., a general physician has just opened a clinic in the same neighbourhood as Maya. Being new, he doesn’t have many patients yet. Word of mouth takes time and above all needs happy patients. What can he do to help more patients and set the word of mouth effect in motion?

The scenario evidently set the teens to think. Healthcare and doctor access having been taken care for them by their parents, this was a new area. Having said that it did not stop them from actively thinking and contributing to the discussion.

“I have a question. Is this a big city or a small town?”

“Good question. For the sake of our discussion, let’s assume that it is a metropolitan city.”

“Maya could google and find doctors available close by. She might be able to even find reviews, thus making it a little easier to find a good doctor.”

“She could ask people in the community in which she is living in. But, she is new and to place and may not have their phone numbers. We don’t know what she is sick with so she may not be able to meet anyone in person.”

“The doctor can put up ads.”

“The doctor could even make posters and put it up in public places. He could even add attractive offers. Chances of Maya seeing these posters is high.”

“Posters is a good idea, but discount offers might raise a red flag. It could suggest that the doctor has little experience.”

“Could offers make the doctor sound desperate?”

“The doctor could first work in a well know hospital and add that reference when he starts his own clinic. This could help with his image.”

“This is a problem for someone who is new to city and knows no one. However, once she gets to know people living in the community, asking for references from known people or other residents in the community might actually work better.”

Simplifying the process of finding a doctor and getting an appointment

While finding a reliable doctor is a challenge in itself, getting an appointment usually means calling up the clinic or the hospital, waiting for the call to be answered and the hassle of not getting an appointment at a convenient time.

From the clinic/hospital’s perspective, managing appointments could be quite complex and any slip ups can lead to loss of clientele.

Practo in India tried to simplify this process by enabling both patients and doctors connect easily using their app. The patients get to access it for free and doctors need to pay a one time fee for new patient signups thanks to Practo. This one time fee lasts for 6 months. The app enables patients to find doctors, their credentials and also see reviews. For the doctors, it becomes a platform to become visible and to be able to help more patients.

Practo is available in many Indian cities today and is looking to expand further.

How about AI in solving the problem of access to quality healthcare?

Could a chatbot reduce time and make consultations faster?

The example of “Babylon” a chatbot that strived to help people with consultations was discussed.

Concerns about wrong diagnosis were raised and we found examples of misdiagnosis and how the app failed to do what it started out to do.

“I think I would still prefer meeting a doctor with a valid medical degree than rely on a chatbot for diagnosis.”

“Maybe we aren’t there yet. But look at this way. It might save a lot of time waiting for an appointment. I once had to stand in a line for 30 mins just to get to the registration desk. Perhaps 4-5 years down the line all the jinxes might just get fixed and chatbot consultations may actually turn out to be convenient.”


Note from the facilitator: As a facilitator of this discussion, the teens made me realize that there is no one definite way to look at a subject. There are several angles and when we collaborate, these angles surface. What would it be like to consider all the angles and figure a potential solution that accounts for possible pitfalls too? Would that solution also be a lot more representative?


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