The doctor's scribble has taken a pill
City docs are developing apps that allow for prescriptions to be filled online and medical history to be stored on cloud
The dermatologist prescribing medicine for chronic acne asked, "How long were you on the Isotretinoin dosage?" Now, this was some six years or so ago. While the patient remembered the medicine and dosage, she had no clue how long she had taken it for. "Such fragmented medical history can cause issues," points out Dr Rohan Sequeira, a cardio-metabolic physician who is currently a senior consultant at Jaslok Hospital. Sequeira says that isotretinoin is known to cause birth defects and so, women who have been prescribed the medication have to confirm that they are not planning to conceive any time soon. A doctor would also need to know how much of the chemical remains in the patient's system.
Dr Rohan Sequeira
The information is likely lost or buried in a dusty file, stored in some corner of the patient's home. And yet, it remains crucial for better treatment. To bridge the gap between need and inconvenience, Sequeira has set up a firm with a platform where doctors can feed in prescriptions and patient history and patients can also upload their previous medical history via scanned documents, allowing all data to be accessible on cloud. Called Clinicjet, the platform launched two months ago, and already has 100 doctors signed up on it. The need for such apps is not just about history, but also knowledge of concurrent treatment.
Describing a commonly played out scenario, Dr Suraj A Dhirwani, a third-generation doctor, says, "A patient ordinarily consults several doctors. Imagine that he has an orthopaedic complaint, and is prescribed painkillers. But, the orthopaedic doesn't know that the patient suffers from hypertension. A common side effect of painkillers is an increase in blood pressure. To counter this, the patient goes to his cardiologist who increases the dosage. But, when the painkiller dosage ends, the BP medication is still on, which causes drowsiness for which the patient consults his general physician." In this scenario, neither of the three doctors know about the other because patients often don't carry their files.
Dr Suraj A Dhirwani
Dhirwani's apps—LY5E (for patients) and 5YLE (for doctors)—launched a few years ago, are a step towards countering this problem. Both platforms assign a unique number to the patient. While with LY5E it is the patient's own cellphone number, with Clinicjet a 12-digit number is assigned. The idea is that when a doctor consults a patient, they can access their entire medical history. However, each time, the patient will have to give their consent, while allowing the doctor permission to view data entered by another doctor. "In India, the patient owns the data and the consulting doctor is only the caretaker. A third party cannot access data without permission," says Dr Dhirwani. Dr Sequeira adds that it is only doctors, not even their personal assistant, who can enter the said data.
"But we found that doctors thought the idea of typing so much information was tedious, we have fed in names of thousands of diseases and medicines. Now, it's easy to do a quick search when filling out prescriptions," Dhirwani adds. And, because prescriptions are meant to have a certain validity period, that field too is marked for the doctors to fill up. "We brought in a team of lawyers who identified issues and now we have certain fields that doctors have to fill, to ensure that all medico-legal procedures are followed. Often, for instance, doctors don't mark a valid-till date for the prescriptions, which is important, especially in cases where psychotropic drugs have been prescribed," he says, adding that all prescriptions will be available as signed PDFs, so that pharmacies honour them.
The Clinicjet and 5YLE apps allow doctors to feed in patient history and access them at a later date. This allows for smooth treatment and access to accurate medical history
But, the features of these apps go beyond preserving your medical history. While LY5E allows you offline access, so that in case of an emergency—for instance, while travelling—another doctor may get your patient history, Clinicjet has a call centre that will not just help patients file their data, but also help them connect with their doctors for an appointment. "This doesn't have to be doctors who are registered with us. We will help with any doctor that the patient wishes to consult," says Dr Sequeira. For those who are registered, the call centre will have information on clinic timings and all their appointments, so that patients get all information over a single call.
The advantages are many. Not having to carry papers around is one. The best might be, not having to decipher the good doctor's illegible scrawl.
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