Tweet your healthcare queries to doctors and get quick answers
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Photo credit: Procto

Photo credit: Procto

The Twitter ID goes live Thursday, World Health Day, and is first available to those in India, Singapore, and the Philippines

Tech in Asia

Twitter’s not just for making fun of things. Just so you don’t forget that, Practo, an Indian healthcare firm, is running a campaign with the social media site that starts tomorrow on World Health Day.

When you tweet a question to the handle @AskPracto, it’ll be answered by a doctor within five to ten minutes, the startup promises. Each question will be filtered through Practo Consult, an online forum that connects doctors and patients for Q&As.

Practo Consult is already available on the web, Android, and iOS. Now, people can access it without even downloading the app. The integration with Twitter is limited to India, Singapore, and the Philippines at the outset, but it will be extended to more countries.

“Twitter has 27 million users and we think they should be focusing more on taking care of their health,” says Shashank ND, CEO of Practo. Specifically for tomorrow, the @AskPracto handle will focus on answering questions about diabetes. According to the International Diabetics Foundation, India has more cases of diabetes than anywhere else in the world.

Wild, wild west

The internet’s not always the safest place for this sort of thing. Last week, Microsoft’s chat bot Tay made headlines after its AI technology went insane interacting with Twitter’s myriad users.

A Practo Consult user asking the important questions.

A Practo Consult user asking the important questions.

And yet, much like the real world, Twitter has many sides. “We’ve done things like this before on World Cancer Day and World Women’s Day, and we thought people would hesitate because Twitter is a public platform,” says Varun Dubey, who heads marketing at Practo. “We were surprised to see that tens of thousands of people were asking questions from their Twitter handles.”

Shashank adds that World Women’s Day saw over 1,000 tweets in a single day, with many coming from mobile phones.

In states like Andhra Pradesh, there are only sixty endocrinologists, thirty of whom are practicing in the city of Hyderabad. Those thirty are supposed to somehow serve Andhra Pradesh’s 50 million population. Technology is excellent in this case, because it can erase the need for face-to-face interaction.

Thanks, Dr. Patel!

Thanks, Dr. Patel!

Other big technology firms have also pitched in to help out with healthcare. Google India yesterday announced the launch of Google Cards, a feature that shows disease information in card format at the top of any search. Although, it’s already been available in the US for the past year, diseases take on different forms across regions.

In India, Google has partnered with Apollo Hospitals to roll out support for 400 diseases. Each card can be viewed in either Hindi or English and includes an illustration of the disease, with information about symptoms and treatment. It can also be downloaded as a PDF.

This post was originally published on Tech in Asia

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Meghna Rao

About Meghna Rao


Born in New York and working in India, Meghna loves innovation, writing and different types of okra-based dishes. She also suffers from an irrational fear of writing too much about herself online. “What if something changes?,” she asks. “I can’t have the Internet documenting my every move.”

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