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Glocal Healthcare Ties Up With BoB For Innovative PHC Enterprising

This digital PHC can also reduce the waiting time to as short as 30 minutes per patient as compared to the traditional care that takes long ques at consultation desk, a day-long wait for test results diagnostic tests and drug dispensing

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Glocal Healthcare Systems, a technology-led integrated healthcare organization, has entered into a MoU with Bank of Baroda for financing entrepreneurs for its digital primary healthcare centres (PHCs) that it wanted to establish across the country. The technology-driven primary healthcare centre is a path-breaking innovation in Indian healthcare as it addresses several key issues in the country's primary care, including the shortage of facilities and doctors, better diagnosis and access to medicine, integrating most of the digital healthcare solutions within a single product at the lowest cost.

Glocal, which successfully introduced the concept of low-cost healthcare services chain in India almost a decade ago, has launched its digital dispensary, dubbed as "PHC in a Box" project for entrepreneurs last month. These dispensaries would be owned and operated by entrepreneurs, to be selected by Glocal, across semi-urban and rural areas to provide primary healthcare (PHC) services. Each of these dispensaries shall cover a catchment area of 15000-20000 population. With the agreement that is being signed, Bank of Baroda shall finance the entrepreneurs to set up the dispensaries under various schemes of small and medium enterprises (SME).

PHC in Box or digital dispensary, which is an innovative brick and mortar centre, aims at providing service at the place of residence of the patient with complete primary care solution such as consultation, confirmatory tests, and medicines from a single point. This is enabled through video consultation connecting qualified doctors from across the country in the same ways as face-to-face consultation, quick and quality medical tests and dispensing of generic drugs at a digital kiosk, using the possibilities of the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (IA). It thus integrates telemedicine suite connecting doctors on video, an AI aided tool for the doctor for accurate diagnosis and prescription according to evidence-based protocols with drug safety check, an IoT device enabling all vitals and investigations within 15 minutes and automatic dispensation of the prescribed medicines without any human intervention.

This digital PHC can also reduce the waiting time to as short as 30 minutes per patient as compared to the traditional care that takes long ques at consultation desk, a day-long wait for test results diagnostic tests and drug dispensing.     

Healthcare experts say that this model is quite relevant and will have meaningful impact in a country like India, where only 33 per cent of the healthcare facilities are available to the 67 per cent of rural populace and public healthcare facilities lack adequate and proper infrastructure and suffer from shortfall in medical specialist and trained manpower, massive absenteeism, poor quality of care etc.

Currently, in India, private healthcare accounts for almost 74 per cent of the country’s total healthcare expenditure and around 70 per cent of ailing patients’ seek care from private facilities.

"Inadequate public healthcare infrastructure leads to overcrowding and high waiting time (at least an hour), shortage of qualified and trained doctors in public facilities and low access to better treatments results in the imbalanced supply of healthcare," say experts.

In India, only 25 per cent of villages have a visiting doctor; 68 per cent villages have access to PHCs, the shortfall in doctors post sanctioned in PHCs are about 12 per cent and even at PHCs, where doctors are posted, the absenteeism is estimated at 45 per cent. High out-of-pocket medical expenses is another key issue that makes the situation worse for the poor. Although PHC consultations are free in the country, it’s seen that a patient normally ends up spending at least Rs 574 for primary care in India on an average as out of pocket expense.

"Health is one of the most important aspects of human life. But access to quality healthcare at times of distress is the most important. While primary healthcare is the first port of call when a person falls sick, it is currently plagued by issues like unavailability of facilities close to ones home, unavailability of good certified doctors at remote or difficult to reach areas. Besides, there is poor compliance in ensuring adherence to laid down protocols for treatment of diseases," says Gautam Chowdhury, CEO of Digital Dispensary arm of Glocal Healthcare.

Since these problems do not seem to be going away if we go forward the way we arrived. Only technology can solve the problems and this is our solution to the issues being faced. We can bring good accredited doctors, even specialists to the hard-to-reach areas, set up fully functional dispensaries close to the home of our citizens wherever they may be with all the required diagnostic tests and medicines to reduce the waiting time to less than 30 minutes - from walking into the facility, to walking out," he added.

The PHC in Box can guide the physicians to give error free diagnosis through the use of Litmus Dx and can also create an EHR (electronic health record) of the patients, which can be accessed online from anywhere. These centres can be easily replicated in a short time to cover all our citizens, reducing the out-of-expenditure to half of its present value and is the future of primary healthcare. So, we trust more and more entrepreneurs will come forward and take part in the building of the country through this sustainable business model, Chowdhury says.

The cost of the project to the entrepreneur shall be around ?15 lakh with Bank of Baroda extending a loan of ?10 lakhs or more, said a Glocal spokesperson explaining the BoB tie-up for the project.

The schemes that may be covered under loan financing shall be Pradhan Mantri Mudra Loan (PMMY), Stand-up India, Prime Minister's Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), etc. so that the rate of interest is low. The loan shall be for a maximum period of 5 years. Glocal shall provide the back-end support including Doctors, technology and training. The entrepreneur needs to organise a suitable space of 250-30 sq ft., he explained.

So far Glocal has been operating more than 100 such dispensaries in Rajasthan, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal. 35 more will be operational shortly. These dispensaries have already provided over 10000 successful consultancies between Apr’17 to Sept’17. All of these have since been set-up on behalf of the respective state governments’. However, in addition to the government-sponsored model, Glocal has now decided to launch the entrepreneurship model to widen the reach of the healthcare and enable services to the unserved and the underserved, he claimed.

As per Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions, the need for cost-effective healthcare using technology is increasing globally and significant market growth for that market is also predicted. Global revenues for technology-enabled healthcare or mobile health (mHealth) was valued at $2.4 billion in 2013 and it is predicted to touch $21.5 billion in 2018.

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