New online doctor consultation companies are popping up like mushrooms in India! When you face a health problem and you cannot find the time to consult a doctor in person, you first think about online doctor consultation.
With some popular names on the internet and the billboards across the roads in your city, you can easily become confused about which online doctors to choose! When it comes to your health, you want the best doctor to give you the right advice and that too at the most affordable price, right?
Here in this article, I will give you some guidelines that you can use to choose the right doctors and get the best possible online doctor consultation for your money.
As a doctor myself, I have tried out half a dozen of online doctor consultation providers in India. Some of them were good, others average and most of them were pretty bad.
I have also used these online doctor consultations as a patient too! Yeah! After all, I am a human being and the kind of diseases that a doctor can acquire are sometimes interesting!
If you are wondering what are some of the common conditions that an online doctor can treat, you should first read this article about the scope of online doctor consultation that I have written. You will find everything that you need to know in that one article!
Here are some of the points that I have considered while choosing the right online doctor consultation company, both for me and my family’s health.
- The right specialty doctor
- Experience of the doctor
- Qualifications and degrees of the online doctor
- Verification of doctors
- Ease of starting a consultation online
- The best consulting fee
- Security & privacy of your medical data
- Available Consulting hours
- Money-back guarantees
- Reviews and feedback from other patients
So, if you want to know about in detail about each of the above-mentioned points, scroll down and continue reading 🙂
1. Choosing the right specialty doctor
The very first thing you ask a new doctor whom you have just met is their name, and then their specialty!
When a student completes his undergraduate degree, he becomes a doctor. He can treat any type of human health conditions. But, when he gets admission into a post-graduate course, for learning in-depth about a certain specialty of medicine or surgery, he again has to study for 3 more years!
After those 3 years, when the new specialist doctor is born, he will see into complaints related to that particular specialty only. Are you getting what I’m saying?
It is just like looking at your body through a hollow pipe, only that part that the doctor is looking at will be visible to him.
Just visit a Gynecologist and ask her to read your ECG, and you will understand just what I was mentioning too!
I’m not saying that specializing in one particular field of medicine is the wrong thing to do. It is great! The problem arises when you as a patient doesn’t know which specialty doctor to consult.
I have made a video in Malayalam about an example, of when to see a Neurologist and when to see an Orthopaedician. If you understand Malayalam, please watch it.
Now some specialty doctors do not want to disappoint their patients just because of the reason that they consulted the wrong specialty doctor. What they do is that they simply prescribe a safe medicine and refer the patient to the right specialty doctor with a letter. Some good doctors, even go to the extent of refunding the consulting fees!
Now, when it comes to online doctor consultation, things are a bit easier. You as an educated patient, someone who knows how to “google” will first figure out the right specialty doctor all by yourself.
If for some reason, you haven’t, still it’s okay! Why? Because most of the online doctor consultation providers have pages written about choosing the right doctor.
Even if you don’t have time to go read all those documents, you can opt for “Consult a Doctor” feature where you do not have to select the right specialty doctor before starting the consultation. In most such cases, your consultation request is transferred to a “general physician” a type of doctor who can handle it all. You can call him, the “Jack of all Specialities” if you want!
Now some other companies in India boast about an AI engine that redirects your consultation to the right specialty doctor. That simply means, you will be first chatting with robots, then with nurses, or human doctors, then with general physicians and finally when the prescription is generated, it is signed by a doctor whom you have not communicated with so far!
I am not sure how the AI engine works, to be honest!
So, the best practice here is to select the right doctor yourself and then pay for the consultation.
Dofody also provides a “quick consultation” feature, but there the request is first filtered by general physician manually and then transferred to the right specialty doctor. No bots here!
2. Experience of the Online Doctor
New doctors take at least 2 years to start learning the art of communicating with patients. They get the experience when they work at small clinics, hospitals or practice alone.
The experience of a doctor plays a crucial part when it comes to the quality of knowledge they acquire. Not everything is taught at medical schools, you know? Doctors have to get a few years of experience under their belts to gain the confidence to start helping patients.
If you visit my profile at dofody.com, you can see that I have 9 years of experience! That number is calculated from the year of passing the undergraduate degree, which is MBBS in my case.
Many online doctor consultation companies provide the number of years experiences each of their registered doctors have in the profile pages. But, if you want to know how they are calculated, you will have to ask them! Just keep in mind that, not all companies are transparent as Dofody is!
Some other companies display the number of patients helped by the doctor using their platform, This number should be taken only with a pinch of salt. I will tell you why?
Doctors who just passed their MBBS can create an account in such companies with ease and they can start helping the patients immediately. Some of the big names in this field, even charge the doctors to display their name in the top of the list! The doctor who pays the most gets the most number of patients, it’s that simple! Dofody doesn’t do that! We are focused on providing value to the patients, transparently and honestly, period!
3. Qualifications and Degrees of the Doctor
If you are thinking that the specialty degrees are the only basis of classifying doctors, you are mistaken, dear friend. Let me explain this point!
You might have heard and seen about MBBS and post-graduation degrees in foreign countries, haven’t you? They are cheap, attractive and of low quality at the same time!
Did you know that students who complete their MBBS or any such undergraduate degree, or even post graduations, from foreign countries are not allowed to practice in India until they clear an exam here in India?
Most such foreign universities, particularly the ones in China and Russia, are focussed on luring Indian money and nothing else. If you ask students who studied in such countries, you will be shocked!
They do not get to talk to a patient, during the full course of their study! Examining and interacting with patients for such students starts when they come back to India! The 5 years they spend in such countries is only to by-heart some powerpoint slides, some pdfs, ebooks and some original medical textbooks. They acquire Zero practical knowledge!
I’m not talking about USMLE or PLAB (UK), I’m specifically referring to some universities in the two countries and some other third world countries around the world.
Surprised? You don’t believe me? Why don’t you make a few phone calls and figure it out?
Things are a little better when it comes to the expensive medical education offered in some of the private medical colleges in India. But, the quality and medical exposure that a student acquires from a reputed college or a government college in India are the best any doctor can boast about.
Patients in India only look at the length of the degrees attached to the doctor’s name. They do not bother to find out where their doctor completed his or her medical education.
How many times have you asked your doctor about the name of the college where he studied?
Students with the lowest ranks scored in competitive exams conducted in India, but with huge cash in their accounts get whatever degrees they want, they buy it!
Doctors who have an active account in Dofody are all graduates from reputed colleges and universities in India itself. Most of them are my personal friends and batchmates at Government Medical College, Calicut.
Dofody does not boast about the tens and thousands of doctors that we have. But, the little number of doctors registered in Dofody are of pure quality and I can assure you that, 100%.
4. Verification of Online Doctors
You might have seen a green tick mark in some of the online doctor’s profile of some online doctor consultation companies, including a few popular ones. Have you ever wondered what that tick means? I’ll tell you.
Any doctor, with or without a valid degree and registration certificates can create “online doctor” account for free in such platforms. Now, the catch here is that their profile will show an “unverified” sign or “a lack of the blue tick mark” and that varies from company to company.
Doctors who register at Dofody need to upload all their qualification certificates, registration certificates before their account becomes activated. Are you wondering how that is different from the other companies?
Doctors who have not uploaded their certificates, will not be displayed to the public, that’s it! Such a doctor’s profile becomes publicly visible only when their account is verified from the back end.
Dofody after collecting the certificates and other documents verifies it with the Medical Council of India, then interviews the doctor, and their account is activated only when we are fully satisfied.
It’s not the patient’s duty to check whether the doctor is verified or not. That should be done by the service provider or the company. So, using blue ticks and “unverified” badges and labels does not provide the best user experience. It’s a shady practice and that’s why Dofody doesn’t follow such methods.
5. Ease of Starting a Consultation Online
Online doctor consultations work best for getting urgent medical advice. I hope you know the difference between urgency and emergency. Consulting a doctor online is not the thing that you should be doing in emergencies. In emergencies, visit your nearest healthcare center or hospital as soon as possible.
When you need to get urgent medical advice, jumping through hoops repeatedly is not that you should be doing. Filling up forms, verifying phone numbers, verifying email addresses, then filling up a big form that you have seen at hospitals, and finally entering your credit card information. No, I wouldn’t want to do that as a patient, nor should you be!
Signing up for an account in Dofody takes less than 30 seconds. You only need to verify your phone number once and provide only your basic info such as name, location, and email address, and that’s it.
Consulting a doctor after logging in is simple. We have designed the app and website in such a way that no one becomes confused when trying to get a medical opinion online.
If you have subscribed to Dofody’s packages, your consultation request flies to the right doctor instantly! You do not have to go through the payment gateway pages and forms. You will be surprised to find how simple it is to send a consultation request when you are our premium package subscriber.
Choosing the doctor based on their specialty is very easy on Dofody. The doctor’s profile page displays all the information that you need to make your decision on which doctor to consult.
I have personally used a company based in Gurugram and I had to enter my credit card details before trying to start the “promised free consultation”. I thought, they wouldn’t charge me and forgot to remove the credit card details. Do you know what happened exactly after one month?
I was charged 2500 INR because according to them, I had subscribed to their annual package, of which I had no idea! It was their hidden agenda, as I found out later. After 2 months and changing my credit card, a few emails to my bank, I finally got the refund, phewwww.. that was hard nonetheless.
That is why I have tried to make Dofody as transparent as possible, with no hidden agendas and policies.
The subscription packages at Dofody makes getting an online doctor’s help, even more, faster for a “quick consultation” feature. You can send the request within four taps, yes just 4 taps on the screen and all you have to do is wait for the doctor to call you back! Imagine how cool is that!
In case you are not an active subscriber, you will have to make payments for every consultation, just like other companies do.
6. The Best Consulting Fees
The value of an online doctor consultation can be easily assessed by comparing it with traditional in-person doctor consultation. For that, you will have to take the time spent, the money wasted for the travel and finally the actual consulting fees.
A pediatrician normally charges between 300 to 600 INR for regular in-person consultation. Add to that another 100 INR for the time and money wasted for the travel, booking and waiting.
Now considering that an online chat consultation with a doctor starts at just 99 INR on Dofody, which is valid for 7 days, how much value can you get from it? When you make a payment for a doctor’s help online, you can feel assured that the doctor will respond to your messages.
Now compare our prices with the popular names and you will find that most of them charge almost double than Dofody. Not to mention their subscription packages, it’s ridiculously priced when compared with ours.
If you are thinking that our quality of consultations will be poor as we are charging less, you should understand one more thing.
All of our doctors are from Kerala, the state in India with the highest literacy rate, the lowest maternal and infant mortality rate and also the state where healthcare is leaps and bounds ahead of other states in India.
Dofody doctors have their practices in different parts of Kerala and here each consultation is cheap when compared to other parts of India. I personally know doctors who charge only 30 INR for each patient! There are so many quality doctors in Kerala, who can speak English, Malayalam, Hindi, and Tamil easily.
This is one of the main reasons why Dofody charges little amount when compared to its competition.
Did you know that Dofody also provides a free “Ask a doctor” page where you can get answers to your health-related questions through emails? It might take two to four working days to get your answer, but the best part is that you do not have to make any payment to use this feature. It’s absolutely free!
7. Security and Privacy of Your Medical Data
Your medical data is your personal asset. The questions that you ask a doctor should not be seen by a third person. The reply that you receive from the doctor also should be seen only by you and not anyone else.
Any medical report that you upload in Dofody is 100% secure. Of course, you should make your password a difficult one to hack! We highly recommend you to make your password at least 15 characters long, to include symbols, upper case letters, and numbers. Do not write it down as a note or on a piece of paper. If you forget your password, just reset it using the “Forgot password” tool.
Your data is stored in our highly secure servers. The data can be viewed by the doctor whom you choose for the online consultation and no one else. Even our back end team cannot view your data. Here is an article on the security of your medical reports and the lengths to which we go to make your data safe!
8. The available consulting hours of doctors
I have already mentioned that online doctor consultations work best for seeking urgent health advice. If your baby has a high fever at 2 am in the morning, you will be fascinated to get an online doctor’s help at that odd hour.
You will have the medicines stocked up in your house, all you need is the proper advice. Any online doctor consultation company that can provide 24 x 7 help is doing a great job indeed.
Unfortunately, this is one area where Dofody lacks now!!
DOFODY PROVIDES ONLINE DOCTOR CONSULTATION ONLY TILL 11 PM AND “QUICK CONSULTATIONS” ARE PROVIDED ONLY BETWEEN 9 AM AND 6 PM. HOPEFULLY, WE WILL BE ABLE TO PROVIDE ROUND THE CLOCK DOCTOR CONSULTATIONS IN THE NEAR FUTURE ITSELF.
SO, IF YOU ARE FACING ANY URGENT HEALTH PROBLEM AT ODD HOURS, DO CHECK OUT THE BIG NAMES.
If you want a doctor’s help on Dofody, just check the times the particular doctor has made available for online consultations. You can send them the consultation request any time, but they will be answering your questions or calling you back only at that set time.
9. Money-Back Guarantee
Who doesn’t like to get a money-back guarantee, right? When it comes to making any type of payment online, be it Amazon or any other website, if you are assured money-back guarantee, you will be more confident to go ahead and make the purchase.
So, the same applies to online doctor consultations too. Choose a provider who offers a money-back guarantee and guess what? Dofody does provide a money-back guarantee!
If you didn’t like the consultation experience using Dofody, we offer you a full refund. It will take a few days to process the refund payment and for you to receive the payment back, but you will get it if you raise the request.
Why does Dofody offer a money-back guarantee? Because we know the quality of our doctors and the likelihood of a patient actually making money back request is close to nil. We are confident in the skills and knowledge of our doctors. If you haven’t tried it out, why don’t you do it today itself and find out!
As far as my google searching skills go, I could only find a few such providers who guarantee money back if you were not satisfied with the consultations. So, do look out for that feature while doctor shopping online!
Note – You can easily request a refund within the Dofody app! Just tap on the settings cogwheel on the top right corner, find and tap on the “request a refund” button. Fill up the simple form there and that’s it, you are done!
10. Prescriptions from online doctors
Every single prescription from any doctor whom you consult should contain the following essential data:
- The doctor’s name
- The doctor’s registration number
- The patient’s name and age
- The date of consultation
- The diagnosis, which means the name of your health condition in medical terms
- the medicines name, dosage, and duration
- other medical advice, if any
- the doctor’s original signature
These are the basic data that makes any doctor prescription a legal one. If you get a prescription from a doctor after an online consultation, make sure it has the above points with each one of them in it.
The prescription that you receive from Dofody doctors will definitely have these points, in each one of them.
You can use this prescription in any pharmacy in India to get the medicines prescribed. All the prescriptions are automatically stored in your Dofody account, and you can access them whenever you want.
No more fear of losing the old prescriptions. If you have your smartphone, then Dofody app will have your prescriptions and all your other uploaded medical reports easily accessible in one single place!
Note – Not all medical conditions require a prescription. Your doctor will give you a prescription if and only if he thinks it is needed.
11. Reviews and Recommendations from patients
Dofody does not have a place where patients can give a star rating or write a review about the doctor consultation experience they had. We did it deliberately to be more transparent.
You can find so many other online doctor consultation platforms that have a built-in system for patients to review the doctors.
There were some press releases on how some of these big brands now, hamper such reviews so that they give more star ratings and reviews to the highest-paid doctors! It can be easily done from the back end, believe me!
So, don’t just depend on the reviews that you see on the company website.
For social proof, Dofody depends on big platforms like Google and Facebook. There’s no way, we can artificially create reviews there. We do ask our patients for reviews, but as app reviews in Google play store and as Facebook page reviews.
Note – We do take patients feedback very seriously. We use your feedback to improve our services, our products and to make the user experience a better one. You can easily leave us feedback within the Dofody app, by navigating to the settings cogwheel on the top right corner, find and tap on the “feedback” button and fill-up the form.
We do not publish this feedback and it is used only for our internal use.
So, that’s it! I hope you liked this article. It’s been a pretty long one 🙂
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