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March 10, 2006

Study of a Telemedicine Initiative

As part of my summer internship I studied a telemedicine project in Thirupathur in Tamilnadu. I am still consolidating the information that I gathered during my visit and I am putting that in words.

As a start here is a list of questions that I put together before I held some brief interviews with the social worker who was coordinating activities there, a local doctor and several local citizens who had used the telemedicine service.

At a high-level, my visit and interviews were aimed at evaluating the following:

Was the doctor comfortable in providing this service?
Was there a viable business model?

Questions for the doctor
1. How much time during the day/week do you spend on this telemedicine effort?
2. What do you collect in fees (total) per day and per week?
3. Are you comfortable communicating with the patient through the remote kiosk?
4. Do you feel the patient receives the best care through this service?
5. How do you think this service can be improved?
6. What other services can be provided that will be useful to the patient?
7. Do you think the charges are nominal, more or less?
8. Do you feel you are providing the same service (through the telemedicine project) as you were providing before (when making visits)?
9. What are the problems that you face during a telemedicine consulting session?
10. Do you have many patients who come for an in-person consultation who wait during the telemedicine session?

Questions for the Kiosk Operator (KO)
1. How long has this kiosk been in operation?
2. What other services are provided at this kiosk?
3. What is the response from the local citizens to those services?
4. How many users have visited the kiosk so far?
5. How many users have availed the telemedicine services?
6. What is the average number of telemedicine users who visit the kiosk per day, per week?
7. What is the cost of providing telemedicine service?
8. What is the average revenue from telemedicine usage per day, per week etc?
9. How do you advertise this service? How do you attract new customers?
10. What is the net profit from telemedicine services?
11. Will you continue to provide this service?
12. How do you plan to improve the telemedicine service?
13. Does the telemedicine service affect the ability to provide other services during the time the internet channel is occupied?
14. How many users visit to use the internet when you are using the telemedicine service?
15. Is there a loss in revenue because of providing the telemedicine service?
16. Which is the most profitable among the services (agricultural information, voice chat, telemedicine, internet browsing)?
17. How will you compare the most successful service with telemedicine services?
18. What other issues do you face in providing the telemedicine service (both technical and others)?
19. How can these issues be resolved?
20. Do you feel the fees for telemedicine service is nominal or high?
21. What do you think is the nominal fees that will make patients visit the kiosk more?
22. How many repeat patients visit the kiosk?

Questions for the patients
1. How did you come to know about the telemedicine service?
2. Are you satisfied with the service that you got from the telemedicine kiosk? Is your ailment cured completely?
3. How do you find the telemedicine service?
4. Did you recommend this service to anyone else (family or neighbors)?
5. Do you feel you are able to explain all the symptoms and conditions to the doctor through this channel?
6. Do you feel you have the privacy in your interactions with the doctor?
7. Do you think the fees is nominal?
8. How much would you like to pay for the service you received?
9. Where would you have gone for treatment had you not been aware of this service?
10. Do you feel that this service is equivalent or better than the service provided by the Regional Medical Practitioners (RMPs)?
11. If you feel this service is better, why do you think it is? If not, why not?
12. How do you get the medicines prescribed?
13. Once you have consulting session through the telemedicine service, how long does it take to receive the medicines?
14. Do you feel you have been cured by the service you received?
15. Did you get any other medical service elsewhere for the same conditions after the telemedicine service?
16. How do you think kiosk operators and telemedicine services can be improved?
17. if the doctor asked you to follow-up, were you able to visit again? If not, why not?

This is clearly a work in progress and I will add more information or provide links as this takes a better shape.

Posted by vdakshin at March 10, 2006 06:52 PM


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