Healthcare Start-Up Connects Rural Patients With Global Network of Specialists
Friday, July 31, 2015
The diagnosis of a serious illness takes heavy emotional and financial toll on the sick and their families. Patients also have to make tough decisions on the choice of medical care. In many African countries, access to second opinion consultations can be challenging since most have a shortage of specialist doctors. And often the few available specialists are stationed in cities hence rural patients must travel long distances.
A Kenyan social enterprise is seeking to bridge these gaps by providing patients in under-served communities with affordable, high-quality second medical opinions that help them understand their illness and the choices they face. Health-E-Net has built a global network of volunteer doctors who review patient data and provide a second diagnosis.
“All patients have this desire to get the best possible treatment and it starts with a second opinion consultation. It gives patients information about their condition, about options available, and space to think and make the best decision. The demand for second opinion consultation is universal, and possibly even more in a developing country context,” says Dr Pratap Kumar, founder and CEO of Health-E-Net.
Diagnosis from a distance
Born in India, Kumar practised medicine as a resident doctor in neurology and pursued further studies in neuroscience and health economics in Europe. While working in London, he was always sought after by patients back in India seeking a second medical opinion.
“It was very difficult to do this because one needs the patient’s history, the scans, the detailed blood work investigations… which is not easy to get access to when you are in a different country. A lot of doctors in the diaspora want to help patients back at home, but the networks don’t exist to harness these skills.”
Kumar saw an opportunity to utilise the skills of diaspora doctors who want to contribute to the communities they left behind, as well as retired doctors wanting to do something meaningful with their time but without the hassle of long travels.