Airtel has tied-up with Religare Technologies and its healthcare delivery arm Fortis Healthcare, which will act as its knowledge partner, to launch Mediphone, a telephone based health care advice or tele-triage service. Religare Technologies is supported by Medibank Health solutions, Australia for Technology Solutions which has licensed its software engine.

The 24X7 service will allow Airtel subscribers to call and speak with credited Doctors and Nurses, and avail health care advice on their mobile phone. To access this service the customer has to call 54445 from his mobile phone, following which an IVR will connect him to a qualified medical professional. The cost of each consultation is Rs. 35 only and the charges are reflected in the user’s bill (for postpaid users) or deducted from account balance (prepaid). An SMS of the advice offered will be sent to the customers.

Since the service’s launch, early this month, it claims to be taking 1,000 calls in a week, according to The Hindu Businessline. The service is presently available in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, J&K and Himachal Pradesh, however, Airtel plans to extend it to all its circles.

According to Airtel, the health officers receiving the call will have a minimum qualification of Bachelor of Science (Nursing), Bachelor of Pharmacy or Diploma in Pharmacy/BDS/BHMS. Doctors operating as team leaders will have a minimum qualification of MBBS/MD or MS. They will have a minimum experience of one year in providing medical care.

The service offers:

– Medical advice including self care, doctor’s consultation and/or medication
–  Emergency assessment & advice
– Emergency referral – In case of emergencies, the service can transfer the call to emergency services and medical service providers like ambulance services, emergency services, hospitals and diagnostic centers, based on the location of the patient.
– Qualified medical professionals & doctors, to assess diagnosis.

Other m-health services

Religare also runs its own health assistance helpline through a website and an autonomous helpline number 3300-6666. It allows users to compare Doctors, Hospitals, labs, pharmacies and other healthcare providers and offers information on diseases and symptoms.

Telecom service provider, Aircel also runs a similar service in collaboration with Apollo Hospitals. The service lets users consult doctors, call an ambulance, get medicines home delivered and book appointments at apollo hospitals and clinics. Aircel charges Rs 45 per consultation and call charges of 40 paise per minute.

Tata Indicom and Loop Mobile also provide a ‘Doctor on call’ service with Accel partners funded Healthcare Magic, which offers consultation for acute and chronic emergency situations.

Tata DOCOMO had also launched an IVR based sex education and awareness service on its network, powered by IL&FS Education to offer information certified by the Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) related to sexual and reproductive health.