Today every person using a smartphone in India is present on the social networking site Twitter (Twitter), Facebook (Facebook) or Whatsapp (Whatsapp). There are some people who are using these platforms to help patients. They guide them about the treatment, give necessary post surgery tips and other medical suggestions.
Dr. HS Chhabra, Medical Director and Head of Spine Diseases at the Indian Spine Injuries Center in the national capital, said, “We use WhatsApp, Skype and Viber extensively to reach out to patients. Currently more than 180 patients are on WhatsApp. are in touch with us, while 30 are on Skype, who are taking advantage of online counselling.”
There are currently 143 million people using social media in India, out of which 25 million are from rural areas.
The trend of providing online medical care through internet is growing rapidly in India. Take the case of Anil Kalra (27), who was diagnosed with a serious spinal injury in December 2012. He underwent four months of rehabilitation after the operation at the Indian Spinal Injury Center.
During this, doctors kept giving them health tips on Skype for 45 minutes daily for six weeks. Kalra is very happy with the online consultation and is now healthy. Dr. Chhabra said, “Kalra’s case shows the importance of internet and social media.”
Gynecologist Dr. Archana Dhawan Bajaj, who runs an IVF center in Delhi, is also using social media for the welfare of patients. She said, “I use Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for constructive dialogue with my patients. Social media is playing a very important role in the field of healthcare. There is a need to spread awareness among people about it.”
Dr. S.S. Sibia, who runs Sibia Medical Center in Ludhiana, said, “The power of networking in the field of medicine should not be underestimated. Many patients are connecting with us through social media. Received important information about Facebook and WhatsApp, as well as possible treatment.
“It has saved many lives,” he said.
New Delhi-based Max Super Specialty Hospital has connected several breast cancer patients with specialists on WhatsApp, who are ready to provide consultations round the clock.
Dr. Anupama Hooda, director of medical oncology at Max Hospital, said, “We have radiation oncology and oncosurgery experts in the WhatsApp group. So whenever a patient has a query, the experts available answer it.”
In a recent survey conducted in the US, about 57 percent of people expressed interest in reaching their physicians on Facebook and e-mail.