sourceaditya: Technology and Doctors in India: The love hate game

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Technology and Doctors in India: The love hate game

When a transition starts it’s always said to be a confusing and muddled place. In the Indian medical sector as technology and healthcare begin to mix in India at a grass root level this is seen by the demands and concerns doctors have in accepting technology.

Over the last 3 years I have had a pleasure of meeting a whole range of doctors, from various cities and expertise in multiple disciplines. I make and sell softwares to Indian Doctors. Without delving too much into the products they are simple, process oriented and with a lot of value-adds. So should I be selling well in this unstructured and nascent market? The answer is not really, the reason is the transition. As doctors come to grips with the fact that technology is now not replacing them but making them adhere to a new set of rules and processes which they never have followed before they resist accepting it.

A large part of the blame also falls on the original providers of software, a lot of it was not from the point of view of the doctor. Bulky and cumbersome process took away time from the doctors core business interest his patient. So whatever the software needed to do, it needed it to be done seamlessly and easily. Today with hardware and also software technologies this problem is finally being overcome. But the doctors, now once bitten are twice shy.

The second issue is that the Medical domain is a one of grey heads, ie the major professionals who can or require to invest in a software today are 35 and above. The younger lot is still studying or working in public/private hospitals where decision making is still not upto them. So largely, we are dealing with a set of doctors in India who aren’t exactly tech savvy. This does hurt the numbers in the overall scheme of things. Though it is not the 100% rule, it does take away sizeable chunk of the population. However there are ways and means in overcome this problem. Doctors are after all people and people like to put their noses everywhere, especially if it benefits them.

Today, about 3 years into my business I have formulated some game plans to counter the usual reasons for not going ahead for IT enabling one’s setup. For hospitals, chains or even polyclinic where there is management involved it far easier. The real challenge lies in convincing 400000 doctors who run clinics and small practices in India. Whoever convinces them first gets a big bonanza, because mind you once this lot starts they will not stop. Trust me, I’ve lived with two doctors all my life.

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