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Aarogya Setu launches another service offering COVID-19 teleconsults, sample collections, and medicine delivery

Aarogya Setu is now aggregating COVID-19 teleconsultations, home sample collection for lab tests, and delivery of medicines, as was indicated by people behind its development just two weeks ago. Aarogya Setu Mitr is a public-private partnership facilitated by the government’s Principal Scientific Advisor and NITI Aayog, with “voluntary participation” from organisations, industry coalitions, and startups. The “key service” is free teleconsultations for patients who have symptoms for COVID-19, while medicine delivery and home collection of samples are “ancillary services”, according to service’s FAQ section.

Upon selecting the service on the Aarogya Setu app, a pop-up notifications alerts the user that they are being redirected to an external site called “aarogyasetumitr.in”. Users are not automatically logged in “as your data is not being carried forward”, the notification says.

The service is not charging providers any fee for listing on the site, though it has set down minimum criteria to be able to list as a vendor for each service. It is currently not servicing all locations. The service says that users/customers can write to the app-makers, and they will work on finding service providers for the users’ locations on priority. So far, service providers who have contacted the service and confirmed their ability to assist have been listed.

COVID-19 teleconsultations offered by 5 vendors

Aarogya Setu Mitr essentially aggregates different telemedicine vendors, as teleconsults can actually be booked on the vendor’s website or service. The service claims that telemedicine services are supported in Hindi and English, but it’s unclear whether all the teleconsultations will be available in Hindi and English. For this to work, each doctor listed on each vendor’s service will have to be conversant in Hindi and English. The vendors are:

  1. eSanjeevani OPD or National Teleconsultation Service: This is operated by the Health Ministry, and offers free audio-video consultations with doctors.
  2. Swasth is a coalition of hospital and telemedicine companies, and has over 1,000 verified doctors offering consultations in Marathi, Kannada, Odia, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, and English. It was built on Bharat Health Stack “for interoperability and scalability”.
  3. StepOne: is a “large collaboration” of verified doctors and technologists to provide COVID-19 related teleconsults for free, and gives access to over 200 doctors in Marathi, Kannada, Odia, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, and English.
  4. Tata Group’s Tata Bridgital Health has 100 listed doctors, and offers video, audio, and chat consults in Hindi and English.
  5. Tech Mahindra’s telehealth platform Connectsense has doctors from Nightingale and other hospitals, offering video and audio consults in Telugu, Hindi, and English.

To be listed on the platform, the vendor needs to:

  1. Have a minimum of 100 doctors available per day;
  2. Take full responsibility for KYC for every doctor;
  3. Provide free COVID-19 consultations;
  4. Cannot solicit patients;
  5. Guaranteed 95% service levels.

Lab tests and home sample collection: offered by 4 ICMR-approved private labs — and 1mg

Since teleconsultations are being offered primarily for COVID-19, it’s likely sample collections will be done for COVID-19 testing. Partners include existing private laboratories, which have been approved by the ICMR for conducting tests in different states:

  1. Thyrocare, authorised for testing Maharashtra
  2. Dr Lal Pathlabs, authorised for testing in West Bengal and Delhi
  3. Metropolis: Two authorised labs in Mumbai and Pune, and another in Tamil Nadu
  4. SRL Diagnostics: Two authorised labs, one in Mumbai, and another in Kerala
  5. 1mg is the only listed vendor which is not a laboratory, but is offering bookings and home sample collection for COVID-19 tests in partnership with 5 private labs: City X-Ray & Scan Clinic (Delhi), MoIQ (Haryana), Prognosis (Delhi), Dr Lal Pathlabs (West Bengal and Delhi), and Metropolis (Mumbai, Pune, Tamil Nadu).

For a diagnostics lab to list on Aarogya Setu Mitr, the lab has to meet the following criteria:

  • Run home sample collection service in 25 cities at the minimum
  • Accredited by NABL
  • Has a tracking system for phlebotomists (physicians who are trained to draw blood for medical tests)
  • Guaranteed 95% service levels

Online medicine delivery offered by 4 players

Online medicine delivery is offered by existing e-pharmacy platforms such as 1mg, NetMeds, PharmEasy, and MedLife. To be listed as a vendor, online pharmacies have to service at least 10,000 pincodes, must be at least 3 years old, and should guarantee 95% service minimum.

The privacy policy

The app has a brief 7-point terms & conditions, and if a user “impliedly or expressly” agrees to the T&C, they also agree to the even briefer 3-point Privacy Policy. The user of any of vendors’ services is governed by their respective terms & conditions and privacy policies.

  • Information collected when using the portal: IP Address, postal PIN code from where you accessed the website, decide details used to access the website
  • Once a user joins the website, their information is used to contact them, and is “securely managed” by the portal
  • Information retained by the portal can be used to run analytics regarding the usage or / access to the portal
  • Data is encrypted in transit and rest; the portal is “equipped with standard security features to protect confidentiality and security of information”
  • Any concerns / grievances with the privacy policy can be addressed to ‘aarogyasetumitr@gmail.com”

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