Bharti Airtel Lanka has launched a service that allows its subscribers to book doctor appointments and medical checkups in Sri Lanka, reports DailyMirror. The service, available to both prepaid and postpaid customers, is powered by e-Channelling PLC, a Colombo Stock Exchange listed e-commerce company. E-Channelling powers a similar service on competing telco Dialog Telecom. Maybe Airtel India should take a cue from their Sri Lankan counterparts.

e-Channelling is a very interesting e-commerce play, on the lines of ticketing services: it provides a centralized Doctors appointment booking system for Sri Lanka’s private healthcare industry, allowing patients to book and pay for appointments via the Internet, mobile, banks and ICT centers called Nenasala. They have a single dial-in number across operators: 225.

According to its website, the average cost of an appointment is around Rs. 750 (Rs. 600 is the Doctor’s fee, Rs. 150 is the hospital fee). e-Channelling connects hospitals like Nawaloka, Asiri Hospitals, Durdans, Apollo, Oasis, Ninewells, Park, Golden Key Eye and ENT, Ceymed and Royal Hospital in Colombo, and Southern Hospital in Galle. Interestingly, one needs to enter a National ID Number (for Sri Lanka, of course) too book.

India has its fair share of healthcare portals, but I’m not sure if any provide a single site for booking appointments: Accel India funded Healthcare Magic provides health tips and the ability to talk to a doctor on Reliance Mobile, Tata Indicom, Loop Mobile and Aircel. Another focus appears to be for allowing patients to maintain digital records online and creating a space for doctors and hospitals to host their profiles: MedIndia and India Heartbeat appear to be following this path. Any others? Bookings appear to be the most scalable model to me.