From No Doctor to E-Doctors in Rural India
Thursday, September 15, 2011
There aren’t too many doctors in the village of Hari Ke Kalan, in the Punjab region of northern India. But for $1, residents who bicycle to a new health clinic in town can get an appointment with a physician who appears on a large-screen television, beamed in over broadband Internet.
The clinic, built by a startup called Healthpoint Services, is one of a network of eight “e-health points” that the for-profit company has built in India as part of a growing effort by entrepreneurs to capitalize on the rapid expansion of cellular and broadband access in the poorest parts of the world. With successes such as text-message-based mobile payments taking off in some countries, many experts see medicine as the next major application of technology in poor nations.
In India, the rural population often has little access to medical services. When villagers get sick, they must either make a costly trip to visit clinics in big cities, take their chances with poorly trained local practitioners, or go to free government clinics that are staffed by physicians only a few hours a week.