The Google Doctor!

Having had the privilege to spend some fantastic time with the stakeholders in the healthcare community, cannot help but sharing a mind blogging and truly insightful discussion I happened to be a part of, which generally remains closed for the outsiders.

For maintaining anonymity and not causing any heads turn, would name the doc as D and myself as Me:

Me: “So doc, hows everything?”

D: “What to tell! Patients these days are reading so much on Google and then they argue about anything and everything that we tell them, thereby wasting our precious time which we can give to other patients, also delaying the diagnosis.”

Me: “But isn’t that great, prospective patients becoming more receptive?”

D: “It’s not so simple, my friend.”

What was to follow was nothing short of a discovery in itself!

D: “It’s not that, we doctors, don’t want to share. Of course, we do and of course we would want everyone to become self-aware when it comes to physiology or anatomy, but somehow if you were in my shoes, you would not beg to differ. 

First of all, for the same symptoms, there could be infinite number of possibilities, and in places like India, especially when everyone is trying to save few bucks, for the want of it, or for the lack of it, you cannot recommend too much of diagnosis, unless the case is critical enough. 

Yes, in few instances, precious time is wasted, but if you were to write a plethora of tests, which, by the way, would lead to accurate diagnosis, you would be labeled an inexperienced doctor or a pricy one, in both cases, your practice would suffer and with the kind of cheap competition that we all have gone into, it would end up in a disaster, leave alone for those who have paid hefty prices to get into a private medical college of sorts and leave alone the quality of education being imparted. 

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Even after you have got the results, as they say, to err is human, and I would be honest in admitting that there are cases where we miss upon on the critical information, might be due to lack of awareness/knowledge or may be we were just too stressed out. 

And on top of that, when there are 100s of patients to be seen in a day with an expectation of getting the best solution/medicine in the lowest possible cost, it becomes an inhumanly affair to handle, after all we are humans and not robots, which reminds me of the fantastic work that you guys are putting in to make our lives easier, wonder why one section of the healthcare community is so averse to adapting new things and technology, knowing very well that it would ultimately benefit the mankind and the entire healthcare community. 

Coming back to the diagnosis, which is the key, when it comes to treatment or recognizing the prognosis of a disease, it still very much remains an art which doctors gain from experience, though with the state-of-the-art research happening, it’s becoming more and more scientific and logical in nature, though I believe there is a long way before we reach a stage where we have a machine, which gives you diagnosis in a fraction of a second. 

Having said that, we doctors, try to be as patient as possible, try to put ourselves in patient’s shoes and try to maintain an EQ (emotional quotient) which I would say is much higher than in other sectors, considering the kind of unnatural demands that the entire community faces on a daily basis, not to mention having to bear the brunt of the patients and their families, when we aren’t able to fulfill the same. 

As a community, it would have been wonderful, if we were more in number, if we had distributed workload, if the doctors were united internally, not playing a part in the rat race or the corrupt practices. 

Having said the above, it still remains a very noble profession, it still gives me immense pride and pleasure along with the un-measurable satisfaction, when I save a life, which I believe no other job can offer. 

One thing I would, in any case, mention, trust an experienced doctor, even though, they might not be the BRAHMA of sorts, yet, they definitely would know much more than a GOOGLE or what any other website can offer, for GOOGLE just bombs you with the plethora of information, what sense you make out of it, still very much remains the prerogative of the doctor or in times to come the likes of machines and bots. 

Source for the Image: http://healthnewsng.com/more-nigerian-doctors-are-applying-for-us-residency-program/

The Healthcare Dream!

It’s not very often when you get up in the middle of the night to figure out that you have a swollen foot. Somehow, you don’t know what to do, whom to ask? And waking up your family members for no urgent reason as such doesn’t make sense.

But you gotta do something, for the fear of the same getting aggravated. You move out into your living room to deliberate on the possible options. Putting soframycin would make sense as a lay man, but the fear of the same having a disastrous reaction with the seemingly fungal infection going through your foot makes you take a pause.

You go to the likes of Google and try to find a possible solution for the same, only to be confused even more with the plethora of symptoms mentioned and the possible permutations and combinations.

What you end up realizing is that you need a medical practitioner to take care of the symptoms. You wish there was a medical friend, philosopher and guide, a medical resource available at the click of a button, whom you could call and possibly share a pic of your foot to be instructed about the immediate step to be taken and then a follow up the next morning.

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May be, if you were living in the 1990s, you wouldn’t even dare to bring such a thought in your mind and revert to exploring the option of waking up your family doctor, that is if you had one.

But today’s India is very different with the no. of MedTech solutions that tend to be sprouting up every single day of our lives with every new start-up idea taking the shape of a company in every nook and corner of the start-up hubs.

Telemedicine is no more a dream. The three key things related to healthcare sector in particular, be it accessibility, affordability or availability are being addressed for different conditions with customized solutions available for each one of them.

How wonderful it would be, when everything in the entire scheme of things in the healthcare sector, would be automated, ranging from appointment to availability of health records on a platform, from diagnosis being done by computers to medicines provided at door step by the pharmacies registered on the same platform.

Still, some work needs to be done when it comes to integrating the functionalities of every stakeholder and bringing them to a common platform, where a seamless and efficient interaction can take place between the patients and the doctors and pain points for both can be taken care of with the help of associated players (e.g. pharmacies and diagnostic centers).

The day is not far when the healthcare dream will be fulfilled with dedicated start-up individuals taking the onus on their shoulders to make this world a better place to live in. After all, this is what lies at the core of happy living, isn’t it?

Source for Image: http://www.conrisnurses.co.uk/

Don’t Drink and Poo!

A decade back, I would have never talked about it even in my dreams but today, courtesy of working in the health and sanitation sector, I feel compelled to narrate this incident. Just yesterday, a very dear friend of mine happened to narrate to me a story that changed his life for good.

As a youngster, I am sure you must have gone to parties or discos or farm houses and might still continue to visit the likes. And at times these places tend to be located a little away from the city where you wouldn’t generally find any kind of habitation or people especially during the late hours.

My friend happened to visit one such place with some of his friends, a farm house, located nearly 100 km away from the city. They had a blast. They got extremely drunk and while returning, one of my friend’s friend got a direct call from the nature to the extent that he couldn’t afford to control the same for another 70  km left to be covered.

No matter, how fast they drove, it would have taken at least half an hour to one hour before they could reach home. So, they decided to find a place where he could cater to his instinctual urge. Finding no community/public toilet, they decided to take a halt at a hamlet and thought of requesting local folks to help them find a toilet.

To their surprise, they couldn’t find any toilet in the entire village and he was left with no other option but to venture into the bushes. The bushes came along with its own set of challenges and fear. There could be snakes searching for their prey, there could be thief eagerly waiting to bounce at the opportunity of making a buck or two.

But he didn’t have any option but to fight his fears on this very occasion. So, he decided to walk a midst the bushes to look for a suitable place where he could take it all out of his system. After roaming around for a couple of minutes, he finally found a place, where he could see some light in the background.

As he was about to begin with the rituals, a huge shadow came from behind and he became seriously terrified. In order to calm himself down, hallucination was one reason that he could think about for what he was perceiving. But this reason couldn’t last for long as the very next moment, the shadow spoke to him: “what are you doing here?”World Toilet Day 2

Relieved that the shadow was indeed a man who knew the language, all his senses that had become numb due to the overdose of alcohol came right back and he got up from the posture that he was in.

Turning round, he could see a man with his lath standing in front of him. Taking note of the situation, he realized that he was about to poo right next to this man’s house, who had seen him approaching and had come outside of the house.

He knew that it was in his best interests to apologize to this man, which he did. The man replied, “This is not the place, we go to another place which is around 1 km from here” and the man provided directions as to how he can approach the place.

The path that the man had shown him was an isolated place. There was no electricity and it was extremely dark. The urge was high enough to motivate him to venture into the unknown. After walking for another 20 minutes, he finally managed to reach the place of his redemption.

To his horror, the place smelled very bad. In the moonlight, he could see a couple piles of excreta lying everywhere. He felt like puking but he couldn’t have afforded to wait. With no option in hand, he sat down at a place which he refers to as the only possible place. As he was about to conduct the ritual, he could feel something on his leg.

He took out his mobile and realized that a huge object was trying to crawl up his leg. He took out his mobile to see what exactly it was. The moment he put on the torch, he just froze seeing a huge snake trying to crawl up his right leg.

Finding some courage, he caught the snake and threw it away. Thereafter he ran as if a 100 m sprint was going on and managed to reach the place where his friends waited for him. Without narrating the event, he got into the car and had to hold on to his instincts for another 45 minutes.

On reaching home, without bidding good bye to his friends, he ran to the door and went inside. His friends found the behavior a little different from what is expected. But they decided to call it a night.

It was only when they met again the next morning that he could explain things to his friends. On one hand, they all broke into laughter, but on the other hand, a thought struck all of them and suddenly they all stopped to ponder over a very major issue that seems to plague the have-nots in our society, which is lack of toilet facilities, leading to all sorts of health and sanitation issues.

There are more than 600 M people in India who do not have access to toilets, leave alone clean toilets.  It’s a pity that even after nearly 7 decades of independence, we have not been able to provide them with a basic facility like providing a toilet, which makes me wonder why no one thought about it before PM Modi started the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan and if it was indeed thought over then why the hell it wasn’t implemented.

Without trying to conduct a post mortem for what has happened in the past, what I would suggest to all of us is to do our bit when it comes to helping the have-nots to achieve a dignified way of living. It could be donating a toilet. It could be donating money. It could be anything that comes under the ambit of charity and trust me, by doing so, the kind of satisfaction one will derive will be no less than what one derives in any sort of meditation.

Banka BioLoo! Sanitation Personified!

Long time no see! Ya, the past couple of months have been no less than a roller coaster with destiny taking me to all nooks and corners of the land which we all refer to as India.

From Kolkata to Jamshedpur, from Delhi to Hyderabad, it has been quite a journey meeting new people, hearing different perspectives and opinions, getting to know the World of management consultancy and ending up with a social entrepreneur.

But there is one meeting that I would want to refer to in particular and that’s with Mrs. Namita Banka, MD of Banka BioLoo Private Limited. To put it simply, the lady is energy personified. She cannot sit still. She needs to be on the move and doing her bit. She has big plans and she wants to make it big.banka-bioloo

She can be referred to as the symbol of a modern 21st century lady who believes that things can happen. Her belief makes her do things which in times to come will surely change the way the sanitation industry is going to operate in the coming 2-3 years time.

She has been a pioneer in WaSH sector with big media houses such as CNN and Bloomberg giving recognition to the efforts that the lady has put in. With a plethora of awards to her name, she is all set to change the lives of those in need.

With a co-founder like Mr. Akhilesh Tripathi with immense amount of operational experience and an intellect par excellence, and providing the much needed support to her vision, don’t be surprised if Akhilesh ji and she becomes a household name in say 2-3 years from now.

In my blog, today, I salute the lady and many more who have contributed big time in changing the lives of the deprived lot in our country thereby ensuring that the efforts result in creating an equitable World.

Source for Image: http://iseeindia.com/2013/11/09/banka-bioloo-giving-a-clean-and-dignified-india/

The Regime!

Getting up early in the morning for some is an extremely difficult proposition but for others, it is an opportunity to explore yet another day and to experience new things in life. Those who have had a habit of going for a morning walk are so hooked on to it, that if they miss it for a day or two, the guilt and the feeling of having lost something is very hard to get rid off.

And in normal circumstances, the first thing that one does is to see himself/herself in a mirror. They say that mirror always speaks the truth. But when the truth is about you then, sometimes it becomes difficult to accept the same.

If the truth is about how much fat you have accumulated over time in your body, then its even harder for you to digest the fact that you have gone obese. Medically, or going by the standards a person is considered obese when his or her weight is 20% more than the normal that they are supposed to have keeping in mind the BMI index.

What an irony it is that the food items which tend to give you pleasure at one time are the very reasons for making sure that you repent for the pleasures you have had by munching upon the same, in the near future.fat

You end up cursing the food and more so your own taste buds for making you indulge in the very fantasy. Yesterday, I was having this conversation with none other than Saty, whom I was telling how in the past couple of days I have managed to gain if not 7 but certainly 3-4 kgs:

Yaar, when you are at home, you end up eating all the good stuff that your mom makes for you, thereby ending up gaining weight.”—-Me

Ya, I know, that’s why what I do is I try to control myself and see I am so fit 😀 “—Saty

Man, how difficult it is to control. How can you ignore the ladoos and the halwa that is kept right in front of your eyes?”—-Me

Yaar, it is all about discipline, which I think is that virtue of life which decides whether we will emerge successful or not. It is that very ingredient which decides whether it will be a make or break situation for us. Whether it be examinations or whether it be taking control of your life or weight, this is the thing that matters.”—-Saty

Wow, Saty. You have been thinking a lot these days ;). But you have hit the bulls eye here. You are right. Everything in life comes down to whether you are disciplined or not. It is the secret for success and nothing but discipline itself can help you achieve what you want from life.”—-Me

Look at all the greats including Sachin Tendulkar. It might have not been easy for him to get up every morning at 5 a.m. and put in the hard work day-in-day out. After all, he also must have felt really frustrated and down and out at times. Yet he carried on. What complements discipline is the perseverence that one has.”—-Saty

Coupled with the perseverence one needs to have a positive mindset in order to have that self-belief which makes sure that one carries on with his or her efforts without worrying for the results or consequences and hoping that one day you will surely get to experience the sweetness that comes along with success.”—-Me

You should take a resolution that you will try to control your eating habits. Don’t start dieting for it is the worst of the ways to reduce one’s weight. What you can do instead is to reduce the junk food that you happen to eat in a day. Don’t eat too many sweets. Eat those things which are healthy and are not deep-fried. I guess a balanced diet is the key along with a fitness regime where in you get to do both cardio and muscular training. The best is to go for yoga in the morning, say, after a walk.”—Saty

Saty, you are talking like a fitness expert ;). I have read many a columns on the same. I know where this is coming from :). Whatever the source, the points that you are mentioning will go a long way in helping one to remain fit, which will in turn help one to be happy and maintain that confidence which is so important when it comes to carrying yourself around and when it comes to interacting with someone, for you know that the other person will like you in case you are fit and well maintained.”—Me

True, and that is what keeps you going and helps in making you more confident and ambitious.”—-Saty

Saty, don’t you think, we have been able to carve out an entire theory of success here? 😉 “—-Me

Yes, fitness leads to confidence/self-belief which leads to increased ambition/motivation which in turn leads to success.”—-Saty

So, we know now where we have to start from. 🙂 “—Me

That was it for the conversation. Truly, fitness is the most important part of our lives which we cannot afford to ignore. Good health leads to positive thoughts and a positive outlook towards life, which is extremely significant when it comes to staying happy and satisifed and in turn contributes to the well being of a person.fitness

Guys and girls out there, what are you waiting for? It is time to go on a fitness regime and what better way to start than on a weekend itself ;).

Source for Image: http://blog.fooducate.com/2010/10/21/40-of-kids-calories-are-from-junk-food/, http://store.wesmen.ca/browse.cfm/group-fitness-classes/4,273.html