Written by: Kushal Dev | Co-founder, Customer Guru
How can Internet.org help improve healthcare services and experience?
A new ILO report shows that 56 per cent of people living in rural areas worldwide do not have access to essential health services. Isn’t health a basic human right and should be accessible to all?
- 83% percent of people in rural Africa are not covered by essential health-care
- In rural Indonesia the percentage of people not covered under essential health services is twice as in urban areas.
- Rural India faces a shortage of more than 12,300 specialist doctors.
Huge infrastructure and manpower investment is required to bridge this urban – rural gap. These statistics are mind boggling and innovation is the key to see quick results and realise this vision.
Internet.org has been criticized by a large section of the “internet enabled” society. While I am a huge supporter of net neutrality and open internet, I also believe that the principle of free internet in local languages through Internet.org can play a huge role in the empowerment of the marginalised sections of society.
The rapid penetration of internet-enabled mobile phones in rural areas has helped it emerge as a link to the outside world. More than 25,000 villages in India alone are not connected to the grid and do not have access to electricity. Innovative solar powered portable charging units enabled charging of mobile hand sets in off grid villages. These villages have been receptive to technology and innovated to use these powerful devices. Connecting these handsets to the internet enables a world of opportunities. Essential health service is one area which can experience massive change through this initiative.
Below are a few scenarios on how Internet.org can impact Healthcare experience in rural areas, please see if you can add some
Consultation – A deficit in manpower in rural areas can definitely be looked into through online consultation. Patients can seek online medical advice through a doctor available in another location.
Awareness – Precaution and disease prevention awareness programs can be communicated through engaging and interactive solutions instead of other traditional, less engaging methods
Grievance redressal– Limited transparency makes it difficult to get concerns heard and addressed. It’s a bigger challenge if a patient from a inaccessible rural location is trying to get concerns addressed in an urban hospital which she/he once visited. Conventional paper based feedback risk the chance of getting lost in the system. A transparent and automated grievance redressal system can remove this bottleneck and bring the voice of such customers in the mainstream.
Information gathering – Limited healthcare facilities in rural areas makes it imperative that people travel to urban locations for healthcare services. Gathering information in advance before reaching these urban location not only reduces hassle for patients but helps them make an informed decision.
Effective distribution – Agencies working in rural setups often rely on instincts for medical supply needs. Automated monitoring of drugs consumption pattern can enable effective distribution, supply and consumption of these drugs.
In conclusion, Internet.org presents opportunities to serve the needy with services that are so readily available to the internet enabled society. Improving accessibility and experience of basic healthcare facilities could be just one of them.
Would love to hear your comments, thoughts and ideas.
Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org