For the past 2-3 months, Karthik’s aunt (mother’s older sister), had been complaining of pain in her elbow and swollen cheek but had been ignoring it since she did not want to burden anyone with the trouble of taking her to a hospital (she is old and has both her legs amputated). Because of this pain, she had stopped living her self reliant life, making her less confident of herself further adding to the difficulty in her recovery. The fact that she lives alone with no one to talk to most of the day, does makes things a little worse. She’s probably the only one I’ve seen with such immense will power and zest and so, to watch her go through this dull phase in her life is unsettling. She’s hesitant of going out and meeting people because of the several logistical hurdles she has to battle in order to do so and hence, Karthik arranged for a doctor from Portea Medicals to visit her.
After registering with some basic details (Name, Phone number and Email), we received a call from Portea to agree on a mutually convenient time for the visit. On the day of the visit, a doctor called us saying he was assigned to attend to our aunt and that he’d come by in an hour. By the time he reached, I desperately tried to look him up online and found NOTHING..Not even a LinkedIn or Facebook profile let alone a review or any relevant information. Clearly, virtual social presence is no measure of how effective a doctor is in treating his/ her patients but services like Practo have surely spoilt me with all the information I could want as a first time user of any sort of medical services.
Given that most sectors in the start up space are fairly crowded and the market is beginning to get into a good equilibrium, I was surprised to see how ordinary the Portea model is. For instance, the doctor who came in to see our aunt could only speak Hindi or English (he was probably Bengali). While our aunt can converse in English, it is surely not her preferred language of communication making the whole ordeal only less comfortable than it already is. Language would have hardly mattered if the doctor seemed a bit more empathetic. After listening to her entire medical history, he sighed a smile which was an indication of “Oh god! How can I remotely do anything to help this person now” at which point he clarified that he was a general physician who can just prescribe analgesics and that we would need to go see a specialist. I did not even dare discuss the impact of his helpless expression with my aunt later because if not anyone, I wanted to pretend like I thought this was working. Clearly, we didn’t need a doctor to prescribe a “crocin” or waste an hour of our lives sitting through him writing down her case history like Valmiki’s Ramayana.
To salvage the situation, the doctor decided to use all the equipment in his bag to check her temperature, blood pressure, pulse and sugar and finally prescribed a “crocin”. Err..I mean, I am no doctor but hearing that from a doctor was less than comforting. I wonder if it would have made a difference if he wore a doctor’s coat and at the very least buttoned up his shirt properly to make us feel like he was serious enough about his job. Assuming that this is not a unique/ one off case, it was appalling for me to see that at the very least the doctor could not offer comfort signalling value if not for good treatment. Based on my one time experience (given that I will never go back to them again!), Portea’s metrics seem limited to quick turn around time only. This episode made me realise that the home care industry in India is so nascent that quality of service is still a far cry!
P. S – If you know better, please to share details of better services in namma Bengaluru, would be damn helpful!