“We used to travel several kilometres for basic medical facilities, and many times lost precious time at work and our wages but this medical Van which comes to our village now has proved to be a boon,” says Damyanti Devi as she deftly embroiders beautiful patterns on a shawl she is working on at the cottage industry she works.
“My husband had undiagnosed diabetes which was posing many health issues for him making him miss work, making it difficult for us to make ends meet”, adds Veena who works at the same place, “The doctors who talks through the ‘Television’ at the van in consultation with Para-medical staff on the van which reports the vitals to the doctor and explains the medicine & treatment to the patients, not only diagnosed it but have also treated it effectively and now he is leading a normal life and goes to work regularly”.
This is a heart whelming story of many in these rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir. Set in the interiors of the region, the villagers had to travel long distances to avail themselves of medical care. But the mobile medical Van by O-health, fully equipped with telemedicine facilities has changed the lives of people in these remote villages.
Changing Lives and Landscapes
Srinath, a construction worker who hails from Bihar, is working in the Kathua district of J&K, beams at us when we asked him about what he thinks about the facility. He has just finished his teleconsultation with a specialist in Delhi. He says he was suffering from fatigue and restlessness for many months but after this ‘Doctor Wali Van’ (Van with Doctor) started coming, his BP was diagnosed, and he is now well with regular medication and checkups. He says that with this Van people can avail affordable health care almost at their doorstep.
The telemedicine service provides the facility of Tele-Consultation with India’s Top qualified doctors and specialists who provide evidence-based care and boasts of having done over 8000 consultations till date. The state-of-the-art telemedicine facility by O-health has the facility to conduct clinical tests and supply medicines to people who are living in remote areas.
The Man Behind the Mission
Visioned and conceptualised by Arunoday Singh, a Biomedical Engineer with an MBA and MSc in Health Economics from the London School of Economics, O-Health is born out of Arunoday’s vision to bring accessible and affordable quality healthcare to rural India and take the best of medical facilities to the patients at the farthest of villages, in J&K, some of which are merely 01 km from Indo-Pak border, with Pak army posts clearly visible from camp sites.
Arunoday Singh has strived to serve the rural population of the country in a way that could bring a major positive change in their lives. Thus, in the process of striving to provide universal access to primary healthcare, he came up with the idea of this telemedicine Van, equipped with the best of diagnostic, pharma and speciality care which has now fast become the ‘Saviour’ for the rural population in these remote villages of the region.
“There is no denying that, unlike in olden times, there is much better road connectivity to rural areas these days but still these places continue to face the paucity and lack of good medical facilities and doctors at par with towns and cities. Most doctors wish to set up their practices in bigger towns and cities after having dedicated many years of their lives studying, but many of them also wish to serve the marginalized section of the society in some way” Arunoday said. “With the fast improving internet connectivity in the villages, digital healthcare can really make a powerful change in the healthcare landscape of rural India”, he added.
This telemedicine facility on wheels allows O-Health access to the patients in the far-flung rural areas, without having to compromise their careers.
“The main motive of the project is to extend healthcare facilities to the needy at their doorstep,” says the staff we met in the van, which is like a mini-hospital on wheels with all the facilities of a good clinic put together comprehensively.
The Challenge and the Solution
Rural patients are seen to be somewhat averse to new technologies, especially in healthcare, due to some of the reasons – paucity of awareness and knowledge about the technology, lack of trust on the individuals running the services and inefficient ways of care delivery leading to ineffective treatment outcomes. “It is critical to send an accurate patient parameter feedback to the remote doctor for a correct diagnosis, otherwise the treatment remains incomplete and hence, leaves the patient ill. We use high fidelity digital health devices like digital stethoscope, digital otoscope, digital derma-scope, etc to capture the parameters and images, to be shared with the specialist for accurate diagnosis leading to an effective treatment. When patients start feeling better after consultation, their level of trust on the technology shoots up”, said Arunoday.
Wheels of Change
Soon, O-Health also aims to setup a larger mobile van to cater to other remote areas with even more health services as well as plans to pilot a static clinic to position itself as a permanent care giver in the region. The service is fast becoming popular as lack of access to affordable and quality medical care is a huge challenge in rural India. This innovative Medicine Facility provides people of remote regions with easy access to quality health services and has worked towards improving the general health of the population in the area as patients can now avail regular diagnostic check-ups. It has also changed their perspective towards their health and well being, making them aware of the value of timely action and lifestyle changes when it comes to their health.
Committed to bringing a change where it matters, in the area of rural health, the wheels of O-Health move ahead with a conviction to bring a change in the area of the health sector in rural Jammu and Kashmir and there is no stopping them!
The landscape of the region seemed buoyant with health and hope when we visited it and people brimmed with a promise of newer, healthier horizons!
Currently, the service is completely free as it has been fully funded by a Public Sector Enterprise. We have examined over 8000 patients for free till date.