Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Internet juggernaut rolls on - II

Here are some more Internet websites/ applications - that I have experienced or that have been reported in the media :

1. Medical diagnostics (path reports) online : Was at a diagnostic lab in Mumbai today morning for some routine tests. Was pleasantly surpised when I received an invoice listing the lab's website, along with a unique user name and password and a time at which I could login and access the report. This will certainly save me a return trip to the lab. 

Come to think of it, a path lab report doesn't warrant any face-to-face discussion at the lab itself, so it's a good candidate for going online. One can think of several value-adds here :
- creation of a My Account for each patient, where the patient logs in and can see his/ her medical history
- loyalty scheme for patients where they can see accumulated points and discounts (useful in a commodity service like diagnostics)
- user ID & passwords for all the doctors in the neighbourhood, along with an email & / or SMS alert to the doctor informing that the test report is now online
- an application whereby doctor can upload his/her comments vis-a-vis the path lab report

Daresay some labs / sites worldwide have already moved forward on these ideas, would be interesting to get names.

2. Indian website on pancreatic cancer : Continuing with sites on medicine, leading cancer hospital Tata Memorial Hospital of Mumbai has launched the first Indian website on this cancertype. Pancreatic cancer is as yet less common in India but - with ubanization - it's incidence is rising. This site, run by the cancer specialists themselves, gives information and resources for patients as per the Indian context and will help create better understanding here of this little known disease.

3. Site for dental specialists : Smileworld is a site created by two Mumbai-based dentists which seeks to serve as an educational platform for dental students and newbie dentists.

4. Jama Masjid redevelopment plan : The Jama Masjid mosque, built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1656 A.D., is Delhi's premier mosque. The Delhi city muncipal authorities have posted their plans to redevelop the mosque area online. Governments are increasingly turning to the web to interface with their constituents and this is just one example.

5. Political party BJP's website attempts to be Web 2.0, with forums, YouTube videos, active blogs and a (currently) non-functioning Wiki. The Congress party's website is most drab though. In a country that's the world's largest democracy and that has one of the youngest  voter populations, one only hopes that going forward political websites will evolve to better connect with the populace cf. Barack Obama

Nothing particularly exciting about the above sites, if anything their execution leaves much to be desired, what's interesting is that there are a lot more novel online applications by the day.. the Internet juggernaut rolls on.  

The Internet juggernaut rolls on - III

After a 75 day (or so) hiatus, am back again (no blogger likes to be off-blog for so long, and I have the same standard excuse for being away : "Was busy").

Here are two interesting Net applications recently reported in the press:

1. BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Council), the municipal council of Mumbai, the world's second most populated city, is testing a website which will have on it the approved plans of all buildings in the city - as well as permissions given by the civic authorities to the builders for these constructions. Currently, citizens have to go from pillar to post to get hold of these plans & information.

Thus, hapless apartment buyers today after moving into their homes often discover that several floors in their building are unauthorized. Or, they discover that the building does not have an "Occupation Certificate" and thus pay the penal rate (double) for electricity and water charges. My building in Lokhandwala area in Mumbai too hasn't got a copy of the approved plans, for example, though the building was built nearly seven years ago.

No details available yet about the site or the url.

2. Patients in the U.S. are seeking a second opinion online through sites such as the Cleveland Clinic, John Hopkins Remote Medical Second Opinion service and Partners Online Specialty Consultations (POSC). Each of these three report getting a thousand patients a year, with POSC saying they have had a cumulative 10,000 patients since starting out in 2006. These services offer consultations from specialists based on the medical records that they fax, mail or post via the Net. The cost of the service payable upfront through credit card is $500 to $1500, depending on the radiology or pathology interpretations required. So far these services were not covered by insurance but on April 24, Cigna announced it's intention to cover this service.

Thus for example if a patient has a tumour and finds travel to a distant specialty hospital for a second opinion tiring or cost-prohibitive, the online second opinion service comes in very useful.

Such a service should do well in India, considering that we have one of the lowest doctor to patient ratio (a reported 6 doctors for every 100,000 population) in the world. There should also be scope in doing outsourcing services of this type for overseas patients.