Telemedicine is a rapidly growing area of medicine, with technology becoming a huge part of our daily lives. One research in the US showed that the telemedicine market is projected to grow from USD25.23 billion in 2015 to USD57.92 billion in 2020.

Here, we list out three start-ups which provide virtual consultations – benefiting both patients and doctors.

1. Telemedicine in Pakistan helps women doctors to return to work

Earlier this year, female doctors are making a silent comeback in Pakistan’s healthcare system, amidst conservative practices in the country. A local health start-up, Sehat Kahani, has been bringing work to female doctors – providing accessibility to healthcare among people living in rural and urban slum communities.

Bounded by the responsibilities of raising a family and caring for the household, female doctors in Pakistan are typically pressured to leave their profession when they reach a certain stage in their lives. With this technology, the doctors can continue their practice without having to leave their homes.

Sehat Kahani’s clinics are open to patients, as per normal, where a nurse would carry out the basic physical examination. This is then followed by a Skype-like video-consultation with the doctor, which may include videos and pictures for further explanations along the way.

So far, over 500 female doctors have been recruited. This is also a novel way to combat the healthcare problem in the country, where two-thirds of the population live in rural areas with poor access to health care.

2. Telemedicine connecting Chinese patients with top doctors in the US

Companies like DocFlight open up top medical experts in the US to patients in China. Photo credit: DocFlight/NBC News
Companies like DocFlight open up top medical experts in the US to patients in China. Photo credit: DocFlight/NBC News

Aiming to break down the distance barrier, DocFlight is a US-based firm, specially catered to patients in China. These patients can seek access to hundreds of physicians in America’s top-notch hospitals – for treatment that may be lacking or is insufficient in their home country.

How it works: The patient’s medical records are firstly computer-translated, reviewed manually for accuracy and is then matched with an appropriate specialist based in the US. Along with the assigned doctor, the video consultation is also joined by DocFlight’s own translator and staff in the US. A licensed physician from China is also allowed to participate with the patient on the other end.

Taking up about 45 minutes in all, the findings and recommendations of the consultation are then summarised by the US-based doctor.

3. A leading telemedicine service providing 24/7 non-emergency care in the US

MDLive is a fast-growing telehealth service provider in the US, covering more than 20 million people so far this year.

Their non-emergency medical services are available around the clock – even on holidays – and are used by about 1,200 patients a day. MDLive’s U.S. Board Certified doctors diagnose patients’ symptoms, prescribe medications and also send prescriptions to pharmacies of their choice.

Signing up is hassle-free, too. Patients can go online to register, call the hotline or download the mobile app. After setting up an account, the patient can then browse the list of doctors’ profiles, view their available appointment times and schedule an appointment with the doctor of their choice.

is also the first telehealth provider in the US to offer virtual psychiatric services in all 50 states. This market is seen as a huge potential, as 20% of Americans have a diagnosable mental disorder and current waiting times to see a behavioural health expert averaged about 30 days.

MDLive will soon be launching virtual dermatology consultations in the near future. MIMS

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