Recent data reports show that by 2020, fifty percent of global healthcare expenditure will be used to treat the three leading causes of mortality—cardiovascular disease, cancer, and respiratory disease. To give you a little perspective, that’s about US $4 trillion. Globally, we’re also seeing a reduction in the number of hospital beds and decreased government spending on healthcare. With such discouraging figures, it’s safe to say we need to start planning for the future. And carefully.
With an increasing amount of health issues and less places to go, many healthcare innovators have their eyes on technology. In search of solutions, we came across one company using digital services to bridge the gap—Jio Health. We met with their Head of Internal Medicine, Dr. Si, who also works as a Lecturer at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy, to get the inside scoop on what’s it’s like to be part of an organization whose revolutionary app is keeping people out of hospital by treating them from the comfort of their own homes.
How did you learn about Jio Health? What made you decide to work with a digital healthcare provider?
Actually one of my good friends introduced me to the company. He’s the head of Jio Health’s pediatric team, and when I heard about how well they are able to treat their patients, I couldn’t say no. I thought this is something I have to try. Since then, the team has grown and now I have nine friends working with me at Jio Health. All of us have worked together before, so I knew that the work environment would be lots of fun. Throughout our time together we have become more like a family unit than colleagues. We consider each other brothers and sisters—we’re an enthusiastic, tight-knit bunch.
Aside from the allure of working with great people, I was eager to try something new. I’m very aware of the current challenges facing healthcare industries around the world and integrating digital services and home visits into my medical practice sounded like a step in the right direction. I truly believe this is the future and I want to be a part of it. The potential is staggering when you think about it.
Australian newspaper ‘The Daily Telegraph’ compared medical centers to fast food outlets claiming doctors were forced to push people through too quickly. What do you think about this?
I find it really surprising. I never would’ve expected this to be an issue in a country like Australia. It’s a cause for concern because I know firsthand the comparison between health clinics and fast food outlets is hauntingly accurate. In both situations, people don’t really have a clear idea about what’s going on. Nobody knows exactly what’s in their fast food burgers. What are the ingredients? Where did they come from?
There is a lack of clarity and explanation, and I feel that same frustration in my patients on a daily basis. To think that this is a worldwide problem is more than alarming. Getting to the bottom of it seems an equally daunting task. I think the secret to change in healthcare is by focusing on quality with increased convenience. Imagine your local fast food restaurant kept their prices the same, were able to move people through equally as fast but served high-quality burgers whose ingredients you can trust. Now that’s something we would all be on board for.
Take us step-by-step through your typical working day.
In addition to Jio Health, all our doctors work full-time in government hospitals. For me, that involves eight-and-a-half hour high-volume shifts. For example, today I met with 60 patients in the morning, took an hour for lunch, and returned for 40 more consultations in the afternoon. I only have time to give 3-5 minute consultations. Sometimes I feel a bit guilty about that. We became doctors in order to help people.
In the evenings, I work three-hour shifts with Jio Health. I come to our office and get settled in as I wait for house calls. Once I receive a notification for a home visit, I speak with the patient before leaving so I can prepare all the necessary medical equipment. What’s needed can vary greatly depending on the severity of the situation and the symptoms, so we always need to gather proper medical information beforehand. Many of our patients also upload their medical records onto our digital database for quick access.
Once I arrive at their home I have plenty of time to give a thorough consultation. If it takes two hours to find out what’s wrong, so be it. There is no queue outside the door, allowing me to direct all my focus on the patient at hand. I’m not rushed to make the next home visit either. That’s because Jio Health has more than enough doctors to take care of everyone. The beauty of this arrangement is the doctor-to-patient dynamic. What starts out as a simple consultation, ends up becoming the first step to building a long-lasting relationship. I often start to feel that they’re no longer my patients, but my friends. I became a doctor for moments like that. Not only am I helping someone live a longer life, but I’m enriching my own at the same time.
How exactly does a home visit work? Can you explain how to use the app?
The Jio Health app is very simple and easy to use. The interface functions in a way similar to Uber or Grab. After you’ve downloaded it, create your free profile and click on the home visit icon. The next step is to choose which kind of treatment you are seeking. We offer services like pediatrics, annual health check-ups, general care, kidney care, diabetes care, and cardiology. Once you’ve chosen the type of treatment you’re seeking, you’ll choose a time and place before you’re directed to a list of relevant doctor profiles. Each profile includes the doctor’s qualifications and background, a photo, their specialty, and the languages they speak. After you select your doctor they will get a notification on their app immediately. Then you just wait for them to arrive.
How do you know what to bring with you on a home visit? What about blood testing and pharmaceuticals?
Firstly, we engage in what people refer to as telemedicine. Telemedicine allows patients to connect with our care providers via secure voice and video chat. Its available 24/7 on our app. After getting sufficient information about the patient’s condition, we will know what we need to bring.
If a blood test is required, the process is a little bit different. The most important thing to note is we will give the test on site. Our patients are never required to go anywhere outside of their homes in search of treatment. After our nurse has performed the test, they will take the blood sample to Jio Health’s lab for testing. Within 24 hours the final results will be delivered to your door, and your doctor will initiate a follow-up over the phone or through video chat.
What’s most rewarding about Jio Health’s home visits?
I feel satisfied. Why? Because I can fully serve my patents. I can work without pressure, and do my job to the best of my ability. More importantly, I can feel that same sense of satisfaction from those that I treat. Jio Heath’s new approach has the potential to change the face of healthcare across the world. The relationships that I’m building here are really important to me, and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.
Who should we speak with next?
The leader of our pediatrics team, Dr. Hoang Quoc Tuong. He is the one who introduced me to Jio Health. He’s been here much longer than me so he will have lots of positive stories to share with you. He even has his own TV show.