Shefali Rahman has been suffering from health problems for over two years, characterized by abrupt, high fevers with back pain that usually lasts two to three days. A mother of three, she is hardly ever able to succumb to the pains of her physical condition and put her feet up.
The resident of Sunamganj has tried multiple avenues for medical advice, starting from Sunamganj Sadar hospital to private chambers. Waiting at the lobby of yet another hospital for a follow-up from her orthopedic physician, Shefali’s eyes fill with tears while sharing her story. She says, “Honestly, this doctor was my last hope. And from him I got to know that I have certain bone problems and after his diagnosis and prescription, I am better now. But why did it take two years to find this out?”
Shefali’s story is not new to our country. According to the Bangladesh Economic Review, for a population of 158.9 million, we have one doctor providing treatment to 2039 people. Every single day, there are approximately 0.6 million patients paying visits to doctors.
The numbers show how difficult it can be to provide good health services to the population. Uttam Kumar Saha, professor at the National Institute of Neuroscience and Hospital, says, “Every patient has the right to seek out the best treatment. However, most of the time they get lost amidst the confusion. The main factors are what should be the diagnosis, where to go and to whom. Finding a skilled doctor is another question all by itself in our contemporary circumstances.”
Sadaf Ahmed has been suffering from skin problems for years. According to the patient, “I have received treatment and my skin is healthier than before. Yet I want to be treated by a more prominent doctor. They are well-known because they’re good, right?”
This point is stressed by Mohammad Abdul Matin Emon, managing director and CEO of Doctorola, the first-ever online platform for doctors’ appointments in Bangladesh. He says, “The situation gets even worse when every single patient tries to go to the doctor who is popular in his field. There are a lot of doctors from different government medical hospitals, colleges, other reliable institutions and caregivers who are great in their fields, yet people hardly know about them.”
“It is a human tendency to depend more on word of mouth of unauthentic sources, rather than a reliable one,” he continued.
Aiming to condense diagnosis and treatment delays in the health sector and raise health awareness, Doctorola.com is an online platform helping people to get doctors’ appointments.
While talking about the services offered by Doctorola’s counselling section Mohammad Abdul explains that this is where a confused patient can get basic health information, as well as appropriate suggestions on which doctor to visit, if needed. All of this advice is provided by general practitioners online, or by phone. According to Abdul, “We have a skilled team of general practitioners to deal with the counselling of patients and to orient them about their problems. Every day, Doctorola provides around 400 to 500 free medical advice sessions.”
He adds, “We get roughly 60 percent of our patients from Dhaka and other cities, and the rest from outside.”
Abdul’s observed very little change in the notion of word of mouth rather than reliable sources in four years journey of Doctorola. “We get calls for consultations and doctor’s appointments but what happens at the end is that on the day of the appointment many don’t show up to the doctor chamber. Because people are still reliant on the information provided by their friends and peers rather than credible sources like Doctorola” added Abdul.
He adds, “However, the entire concept of Doctorola is appreciated by doctors.” Currently, around 9000 doctors are associated with the organization.”
The platform also disseminates health-related information through over 250 videos and its blogs to build awareness on different diseases, their symptoms, prevention techniques and most important of all, to dispel myths regarding said diseases. Around 40 videos are being uploaded per month and the topics are decided through an experienced medical practitioners’ team, and citizens’ queries on health issues are always prioritized.
To make the treatment process stronger, Doctorola has included test sample collection, receiving the reports at home, and insurance benefits. The Electronic Health Record (EHR) stores all the information from each patient in one place and lists different health care providers according to factors such as tests, treatment, cost etc. Abdul says, “The listing is being done on the basis of information from the service providers as well on authentic feedback from users.”
For appointments call 16484 or visit -- https://Doctorola.com/