People are being treated through WhatsApp

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When you fall ill or need medical help, what do you do? The simple answer is to approach your family doctor or the nearest medical store. But according to experts, now you also have the option of social media.

Every person using a smartphone in India today is present on the social networking site Twitter, Facebook or WhatsApp. There are some people who are using these platforms to help patients. They guide them about the treatment, give necessary suggestions after surgery and give other medical suggestions.

Dr. H.S. Chhabra, Medical Director and Head of Spine Diseases at the Indian Spine Injuries Center in the national capital, said, “We use WhatsApp, Skype and Viber extensively to reach the patients. Currently, more than 180 patients are on WhatsApp. are in touch with us, while 30 are on Skype, who are availing the benefits of online counselling.”

Currently 14.3 crore people are using social media in India, out of which 2.5 crore people are from rural areas.

The trend of providing online medical care through internet is increasing rapidly in India. Take the case of Anil Kalra (27), who was diagnosed with a serious spinal cord injury in December 2012. After the operation, he underwent four months of rehabilitation at the Indian Spinal Injury Centre.

During this time, doctors kept giving him health related suggestions on Skype for 45 minutes daily for six weeks. Kalra is very happy with the online consultation and is now healthy. Dr. Chhabra said, “The case of Kalra shows the importance of internet and social media.”

Gynecologist Dr. Archana Dhawan Bajaj, who runs an IVF center in Delhi, is also using social media for the welfare of patients. She said, “I use Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to have constructive conversations with my patients. Social media is playing a very important role in the field of healthcare. There is a need to spread awareness about it among the people.”

Dr. S.S. Sibiya, who runs Sibiya Medical Center in Ludhiana, said, “The power of networking in the field of medicine should not be underestimated. Many patients are connecting with us through social media. Many of them have cured their disease. “We have obtained important information about the disease on Facebook and WhatsApp, as well as possible treatments.”

“It has saved many lives,” he said.

New Delhi-based Max Super Specialty Hospital has connected many breast cancer patients with experts on WhatsApp, who are always ready to provide consultation.

“We have radiation oncology and oncosurgery experts in the WhatsApp group. So whenever a patient asks something, the available experts answer it,” said Dr Anupama Hooda, director of medical oncology at Max Hospital.

In a recent survey conducted in America, about 57 percent people have expressed interest in reaching their doctors on Facebook and e-mail.


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