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‘Our aim is to unlock the knowledge silos and give doctors access to latest information’

Says, Phanish Chandra, Co-Founder and CEO, Docplexus. An IIT Kharagpur alumnus, Phanish has served as a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in a startup before. He was also the Principal Architect at FourJs and has built cutting edge software products from scratch in multiple product companies. He founded Docplexus in the year 2014.

Docplexus is the largest and fastest growing platform for doctors in India. As of today there are more than 1,35,000 doctors registered on this platform across 83 speciality from over 1500 cities and is growing by 10,000 new registered doctors every month.

The platform offers access to unique and genuine customer insights on perceptions, attitudes and behaviours of the medical community. Healthcare companies profit from exceptional innovative communicational opportunities that can drive best-in-class relationship-oriented customer and KOL interaction, communication and insight. Phanish Chandra in an interaction with Ekta Srivastava, Health Technology…

What is the concept underlying Docplexus and how does it work?

The vision of Docplexus is to “Connect and Empower Indian doctors” to make best clinical decisions. Empowering doctors is the key in bringing a good change in the healthcare system and I am proud to say we are exactly doing that.

Two years ago we started building a platform for doctors where they can share their clinical experiences, problems and insights they gain from their practice. Additionally, we also wanted them to stay updated with current trends as well as new research in the field of medicine. We have built a platform where doctors engage with each other by sharing their articles, questions, and comments on various clinical and policy-related issues. Thus we have given them an opportunity to connect with doctors from all across India.

To participate, all doctors need to do is to register with us for free. After our strict verification process, they have complete access to every content that is shared on our platform from over 1, 35,000 doctors from 85 different specialties. The doctors can access Docplexus from smartphones and tablets through our Android and iOS apps, similarly, they can also access Docplexus through their desktops.

We have seen a great engagement and initiatives from doctors since we started Docplexus. Doctors want to know and learn about new medical discoveries, current treatments and recent changes in the policies, and doctors themselves are engaging in peer-to-peer learning, which was what we aimed for.

In addition, we also conduct CME (continuous medical education) courses, webinars and interviews of India’s leading experts. We have seen the doctors from Tier 2 cities and smaller towns and villages have been benefitting the most as there was no other option for them before to connect with other doctors.

What are the special key features of the healthcare technology startup?

Every industry is getting disrupted for good by the ubiquity of digital. We are buying items and ordering services via the internet. This is the age of continuous connectivity and every domain is set to benefit from it. Most healthcare startups have picked up one specific problem and trying to fix it with their offerings. Some players are trying to improve doctor search and appointment experience. Other ones are trying to work on patient fitness issues. Some have ventured into online sale of medicine and Electronic Medical records. Most of them are trying to leverage technology, internet, and mobile for better healthcare. Docplexus as a healthcare startup is trying to create a networking and knowledge exchange platform of doctors. Our aim is to unlock the knowledge silos and give doctors access to latest information in medicine and peer advice so that he can make a better clinical decision.

What are the challenges faced by Docplexus?

When you create something new, it is very natural for people to doubt its utility. There will be some early adopters and others will simply follow over time. It does take a time to build the momentum for any startup. Docplexus is no different.

As we are creating a social network for doctors, building an initial momentum with right engagement so that it becomes viral by itself was initially difficult. However, we realized that if you continue doing your work with high quality and innovative offering, you will succeed. With 2 years of tenacity and quality work now we have reached 135k doctors and 6000 new doctors join in every month. With those numbers now 20% of Indian doctors are members now and that is a huge achievement.

How to solve the biggest challenges of Indian Healthcare?

Indian Healthcare has some glaring issues to fix. The solution can come only by the effective drafting of policies and its implementation. This can happen with private-public partnership. Once that ecosystem is in place, startups and corporates can quickly scale their innovative offerings for a better tomorrow.

Some more important issues with higher priorities are as below –

The biggest push should come from the government to improve the medical education

The access to healthcare infrastructure and urban/rural access to healthcare should be bridged

There is also the menace of Quacks and fake doctors which has never been addressed in a methodical way before.

Why should a doctor join Docplexus? How does it help them? What are its benefits?

Docplexus offers end-to-end solutions for the problems that doctors face. The most important of them is “How to deal with difficult patient cases”. There are over 1, 35, 000 doctors and at least 1000 doctors from each specialty, who regularly pitch in their inputs regarding complicated cases their colleagues face. A solved case is doctor’s biggest achievement and we enable them to do so.

Secondly, being a medical professional in India is competitive as well as complicated. To stay ahead with both knowledge and practice insights, Docplexus is a great platform.

Thirdly, Docplexus helps doctors to connect with each other and helps them to raise their voice together. From quackery to growing number of attacks on doctors, doctors are raising their voices on a number of issues they are facing.

How a very difficult case was solved by doctors in Rural India with the help of Docplexus? Please share a few case studies.

Doctors in even remotest areas are getting benefitted. We know that our members are engaging on Docplexus from remote. We have seen doctors from remote areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir and even the rest of North-Eastern India are engaging with Doctors from urban and more accessible areas.

In addition to routine cases, two of the cases are a real highlight.

One of the cases, referred by a young doctor from a remote area of central India put forward a difficult case of “bear attack.” The young doctor was not trained during his residency to handle such case. However, doctors from all over-India helped him make a proper diagnosis and ensured good prognosis throughout the case.

The second case is also very interesting. A young girl was brought into the primary care facility in a small town of Maharashtra with intractable rash and fever. The young attending doctor tried everything he could but could not help the girl with fever and rash. Finally, as soon as he posted this case on Docplexus, he received advice from over 30 doctors who had faced similar kind of cases in their career.

This is what power of connecting doctors. Ultimately it helps patients to get better.

There are many such cases we have seen and many much where doctor has subconsciously made the choice of the treatment after he or she read something new on Docplexus.

What are the challenges in careers of an Indian Doctor and what are its solutions?

Indian doctors have a lot of challenges compared to doctors in other countries. In comparison with our population, we have very few eligible doctors in India. So existing doctors are working under a lot of burdens. Despite having good experience, doctors in India also feel that they are not being supported by the government and society. Doctors are easily victimized if something goes wrong, even though they are not at fault. Hence, they are constantly under pressure. At Docplexus, talking to peers helps them to relieve this pressure to a large extent.

The most important hurdle for doctors is that majority of them do not have good access to new medical insights, especially related to Indian patients. We have given them an opportunity to share these insights, so that everyone, especially young doctors can benefit. Young doctors can build their careers with the guidance from the seniors and can also bring in new energy in the medical profession in India.

The solutions for their problems are not so easy, doctors need to unite, empower and express themselves as much as possible within the community. If they are united, other players in the healthcare sector will and must take cognizance of their demands, both clinical and policy-viz. Docplexus is actively engaging with doctors and other stakeholders of healthcare sector in India such as Pharma and Medical device companies to get high-value clinical insights accessible to all doctors in India.

What are the factors leading to increasing violence against doctors and how it should be tackled?

In India, the access to healthcare is very polarized. At one hand you have very poor healthcare infrastructure in tier II, III cities and in the rural area and on another hand you have an oversupply of it in Tier I cities. This inequality in access to healthcare and low affordability results in Patients getting frustrated with the services they are getting from HCPs. Also the gestation period for investment in hospitals and nursing home is high. In rare case, some clinicians and hospitals do use unethical means to extort money from the patients. This leads to the trust deficit between doctors and patients. Lastly, medicine is not a perfect science and sometimes outcomes are unpredictable. As a doctor, you try your best to save lives of patient and it is never your intention that your patient dies but unfortunately you are not God. With a patient doctor ratio of 1600:1, doctors are under extreme work pressure already. Some outcomes will not be as expected and patients are not sometimes mature enough to handle it.

The ways to tackle it are –

More investment from the government in bridging the urban-rural divide in access to healthcare.

The government should also invest in setting up more medical colleges and continuous training of doctors to ensure the improvement in patient-doctor ratio.

There should be a policy to improve the communication between patients and HCPs. Doctors in India also need to be trained well in their softskills and communication skills to so that the interactions between them happen in more friendly and trusted manner. This will also ensure improvement in the patient-doctor relationship.

How do you think that technology has changed the face of Indian Healthcare?

Running a healthcare center is a Herculean job and the processes, management and accounting overheads are huge for a doctor who is primarily trained in providing clinical care. For a better outcome and efficiency, doctors should focus his or her attention to what they are best at and rest should be taken care by automation with technology. The increased adoption of telemedicine, HIS, electronic health records (EHR), mHealth, and web-based services in India have made a major leap in that direction.

Doctors are using digital Doctors’ Professional Platforms like Docplexus. In addition, they also use medical journals from their own place and at a convenient time so to update their knowledge frequently. By staying connected through platforms like Docplexus and journals,doctors can leverage the latest innovation in the field of medicine. These technology-enabled solutions have unlocked the knowledge silos which were previously bounded by constraints of both time and location.

In a country like India, where the doctor to patient ratio is around 1:1600, where most Indians have to travel about 20 kilometers to reach a hospital; having direct interaction with a specialist is nearly impossible for a patient living in tier III cities and rural areas. Implementation of telemedicine by the Government of India and some private players has come as a breather at a right time. Patients can now also order diagnostic tests and medicines online from the comfort of their house which is a true empowerment of patients.



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