If you see the traffic jams in Indonesia’s big cities, then you might reconsider even going out at all. Doctor Gregorius Bimantoro considers this as one of many problems that makes Indonesians reluctant to go to see a doctor. He is the founder and CEO of a health digital communication startup, Atoma Medical, which runs the online health website, TanyaDok.com. This portal used to be called TanyaDokterAnda.com (ask your doctor). The new name is better.
Since 2006, the site has been supported by a medical editorial team and hundreds of contributing doctors which consist of general physicians, dentists, and an array of experts, such as specialist doctors and senior consultants. Dr. Bimantoro (dr. in Indonesia refers to Medical Doctor or Doctor) said the online venture is a way to combat the off-putting factors: the long wait, the traffic, and folks not having time to spare.
The rebrand was not just about changing its name, but also adding more features like online and mobile consultation in its social health network TanyaDok.com Live. It’s a Twitter-like interactive feature where you can ask short questions and get a doctor to answer it briefly and quickly. To make it more mobile, the company will launch its TanyaDok mHealth App for Android users in Google Play, so you can consult it anytime you feel sick. This portal also contains around 5,000 health articles which were written by doctors who specialize in various fields.
By giving this online consultation, Dr. Bimantoro is not expecting TanyaDok to replace the healthcare system available. He just hopes that it will be easier to access. Ideally, he tells us, queries in TanyaDok Live could be answered directly in real-time. But doctors are really busy people, so you need to wait for a while. The team strives to answer all questions as soon as possible, usually in less than one hour.
Until now, the number of consultations given are in the tens of thousands, either via email or social media. Every day the doctors serve around 20 to 50 consultations. I chatted with Dr. Bimantoro about TanyaDok as a virtual health consultation room, medical ethics, monetization, and lots more.
Is TanyaDok Live like Yahoo Answers, or are answers hidden to maintain patient privacy?
Bimantoro: Answering consultations [on Live] is basically almost the same as Yahoo Answers. In this case it is expected that physicians who are members of Tanyadok.com actively answer questions from the “patient” in Tanyadok Live. Doctors can actively choose the questions you want answered in accordance with the interests and expertise of each. The answers can be seen by consulting other members who are already enrolled in Tanyadok.com.
Live page is a service that is directly connected to social media, while the consulting pages are devoted to consultations – so they’re more private.
Can patients choose a specific doctor?
Bimantoro: In the case of both Tanyadok Live and private consultations, the doctor does not examine patients. A doctors consultation is limited to medical advice on the patient’s complaints. For the selection of doctors for consultations, the online patient can choose their doctors, by utilizing features such as private messages, like a direct message on Twitter to the doctor who chooses to allow that.
How can doctors see the medical records of the patient? Because on the registration form, information about the patient is very limited.
Bimantoro: The medical records system will be seen only in a paid premium service. Patients who want to consult TanyaDok Live can directly inform her complaint including data information. In this consultation, doctors in need other data about patients can ask the patients directly.
In online consultations, how doctors can give diagnosis without seeing or touching the patient physically?
Bimantoro: Because we are not doing a physical examination, the doctors who provide consultations to the patient can not establish a diagnosis. Particulars of blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature, as well as photos of skin conditions may be requested. But again, this information can not be used as a benchmark for diagnosis because the online consultation can not replace face-to-face meeting which could then be followed by a physical examination.
How is the accuracy of the online examination, especially for severe disease? Sometimes patients misread their own symptoms and guess at their conditions.
Bimantoro: The accuracy of these checks could not be measured because again this is not an online consultation which will establish a working diagnosis. The doctors may have a differential diagnosis of the complaints described by patients. However, this notion can not be enforced as a diagnosis because of work needs to be done a physical examination and other investigations.
Possible patients misread certain symptoms and figure out their own conditions – that’s very likely. But even in the doctor’s office with a face to face consultation, the patient’s complaints often do not match the perception of the doctor. Therefore, physicians diagnose the results by doing a physical examination and, if necessary, an investigation. We are working with Network Health Services (ranging from hospitals, specialist clinics, clinical laboratories, etc.) for continued service, and will soon provide ‘home care’ services for paid premium members.