health

Of all the water that exists on our planet, around 97% is salt water. Of the 3% or so of fresh water available, almost half of it remains frozen in glaciers, ice caps, or deep underground aquifers. Yes – just around 1.5% is available for our use, making every drop count. Further, with continuing population growth and industrial growth, demand continues to escalate in a supply-constrained domain.

Improving the Lives in Rural India by Technology-enabled Solutions

Rural TeleMedicine Centers

The Problem & Solution:

  1. A large majority of India’s population lives in villages without access to timely, quality and affordable healthcare due to several barriers. Lacking modern society conveniences and facilities, qualified medical personnel are reluctant to live in small towns and villages. Similarly, these villages lack adequate diagnostic testing facilities. Hence the villagers have to travel to the nearest town to avail of medical services. This adds up to the cost of services and often involves taking time away from work, and sometimes staying overnight in the town. Many villagers thus delay getting the diagnosis and only go when the matter becomes serious. An early diagnosis and treatment, which are less expensive and easier to treat, get avoided. Further, the current healthcare setup short-changes quality due to persistent over-crowding and economic pressures, resulting in unnecessary multiple patient visits for common conditions.

WGF’s Health Council under Dr Raj Shah’s leadership has pioneered an rural telemedicine solution using its innovative HEART (Healthcare Easy Access for Rural community via Telemedicine) model that integrates power of several modern technologies to provide affordable & timely healthcare with far superior quality & patient experience.

WGF’s rural telemedicine solution has several key elements: a rural telemedicine center (RTC) staffed by two assistants (called ‘Sahayaks’, one male & one female), set of equipment (medical & electronic – as shown below) to help gather key diagnostic data prior to the patients seeing the physician, AI/ML Software for the structured triage (by Sahayaks), and then a typical 10-min video-consult with the physician (who already has two critical inputs at his fingertips for accurate & efficient treatment plan – device generated diagnostics and AI/ML software created triage output), and finally a prescription which gets sent to the nearest pharmacy (directly or through the Sahayak). This process ensures not only right specialty physician is able to treat with all the necessary information in real-time, patient also does not feel rushed with a 2-min superficial engagement.

  • WGF works with local NGOs/charity organizations/Hospitals to select the village or a cluster of villages with a population of around 3000 to 5000. These villages are typically those that have no resident M.D. or clinic.
  • One male and one female village resident is selected and trained as telemedicine operators, “Sahayaks”
  • WGF donates about $1000 for each center to buy the hardware: smartphones, SIM for Internet connectivity, a portable printer for prescription etc. and digital medical devices (BP monitor, Thermometer, Pulse Oximeter, Glucometer, Scale).
  • WGF’s technology partner Evolko, Inc. provides software, training, support, and maintenance. It also maintains a panel of more than 200 physicians to provide daily consultations.
  • Patients pay a small teleconsultation fee of about ₹110, which includes a doctor’s fee of ₹50, Sahayak’s fee of the ₹30, and software cost of ₹30 is collected from the patient. Of course, the patient’s fees may be reduced by charity organizations picking up the cost.

Thus, the HEART model is self-sustaining and creates a livelihood for Sahayaks and support staff.

Below is a simple view of the key benefits of Wheels rural telemedicine solution:

WGF telemedicine solution is in key partnership with our strategic partner Evolko, Inc, which has deep experience and leadership in delivering telemedicine via its 400+ centers and 8.2m+ visits already completed.

WGF leaders providing oversight:

Dr. Raj Shah,
Dr. Bindu Kansupadia

Impact

320+ Telemedicine centers have been opened in villages across seven states (Bihar, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chattisgarh, and Andhra Pradesh). In a short time span these have already handled nearly 15,000 patient visits. During the COVID period, these centers stepped up to provide free medical care to the villagers around the centers.

WGF’s goal is to create 10,000 Telemedicine centers in the next 3 years covering several more states.

Call to Action:

Health is one of the noblest giving. And with each $1,000 contribution, you can enable your home town with quality and affordable access forever! This is one of the most wonderful opportunity for alumni and others to see power of technology and giving making a difference on hundreds of lives forever.  

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