A body of software professionals based out of Telangana, Telangana Information Technology Association (TITA), has launched an online clinic Digithon Covid-19 Online Clinic, as a mobile application, to provide medical support and care to Indians stranded abroad and NRIs due to coronavirus.
Launched on Sunday, 29 March, the platform has been able to, so far, connect NRIs from countries like Italy, UK, Netherlands, France and a few others, with pulmonologists, cardiologists and other specialised doctors. TITA founder and president Sundeep Kumar Makthala told The Quint, that until they get more doctors on board, the services will be restricted to a few countries. TITA has chapters in 22 countries across the globe.
“When we spoke to our chapter members, we learned that there was a great need for quality medical care in certain countries like Italy, where they were not receiving any support from the local government. A student in Italy, Akhil, reached out to us desperately in need of medical care, and feeling very abandoned. That’s when we decided to set up open-source software clinic like this to connect doctors and patients free of cost,” he said.
Within the first two days, the online clinic was able to connect around 195 NRIs to doctors living in India. They have so far received over 2,000 requests for appointments from people in various countries.
How Does the Clinic Work?
According to Makhtala, first, doctors enter in their available hours into the interface. This information is then matched with the information provided by potential patients, when they enter when they would want an appointment.
“It is similar to a video call, but done through our platform. The doctor and patient will be able to see each other and the doctor can make notes and record the audio as well for medical transcription purposed,” he said.
Makhtala said that they are trying to get more doctors on board.
“Right now, we have some 70 doctors from prominent hospitals and facilities on board, all from Telangana. But we are looking for more doctors so we can keep up with the volume of appointments. We are requesting doctors to donate their free time,” he said.
The next step is global outreach, said Makhtala, stating that they would rope in the district secretaries of TITA to reach out to patients in need in the rural areas.
“We have a chapter in every district of Telangana, so 33 such secretaries are there and we have a complete structure to mobilise our rural outreach plan. In addition to consultations for fever, pneumonia, and other flu-like problems, we are also trying to get psychologists on board as mental health is another aspect that gets ignored in times like this. The NRIs are mostly living alone and isolated, and they need this support as well,” he said.