Affordable Access to Health Information via Mobile

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Affordable Access to Health Information via Mobile

Bangalore, India
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The vast majority of Indians lack access to basic and accurate healthcare information. This is true of both urban and rural households. Adding to the lack of adequate medical infrastructure is the fact that doctors are often expensive or unavailable. In this scenario, preventive healthcare assumes a great deal of importance. Unfortunately in India prevention is neglected & there is a severe lack of understanding of preventative health as a concept. This in turn leads to high levels of expenditure on emergency and chronic healthcare, and with 80% of health expenditure in India being out-of-pocket

At mDhil, we provide accurate health information in an engaging and compelling manner. Our goal is to help people make informed choices & thus take better control of their health issues and concerns. Through SMS, web pages, video & social media, all tailored for access through mobile phones, we attempt to provide the Indian consumer with multiple affordable and convenient channels to access basic healthcare information as well as connect with medical professionals. We strive to create high-quality, relevant content in multiple languages and we focus on leveraging technology to achieve significant reach.

We measure impact in terms of expansion of, as well as rich engagement by, our user communities. We work towards facilitating viral adoption of best practices in simple, preventive healthcare.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The Indian consumer does not have access to accurate, high-quality basic healthcare information.Doctors are often expensive, unapproachable, or not always available. Cultural norms make some topics taboo for discussion. Examples include reproductive healthcare, family planning, and sexually transmissible infections Information is often obtained from the informal friends & family network, which often includes factually inaccurate information. Little or no emphasis is placed on prevention and wellness.Over-medication is rampant, with no understanding of drug interactions, dosages, and side-effects. The current state of primary healthcare in India is horrific. According to the World Health Organization, there are 0.6 doctors and 0.08 nurses per thousand people in India, which is significantly below the world average of 1.2 doctors and 2.6 nurses per thousand. Government spending on hospital infrastructure is estimated to only grow at 2% per year over the next decade – woefully short of society’s needs.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

mDhil provides healthcare information that meets the needs of the Indian citizen, delivered via widely used mobile platforms as well as online & social media channels. Unlike existing US-based websites that offer health information, mDhil creates health information that is tailored to the cultural issues prevalent in India – and most importantly – delivers this information on the mobile phone. The mobile phone provides the common technical platform for reaching the vast majority of Indian consumers. Our team makes an extraordinary effort to provide information that is factual and reflects international standards for healthcare. We are a service that Indians can trust to provide accurate health & wellness information without commercial marketing. Past government-supported programs that focused on basic and preventative healthcare relied on individual community outreach. Examples included funding non-profits to do individual classes and visit numerous cities and villages to hold health clinics. These efforts were difficult to scale and expensive in comparison to outreach over mobile technology platforms. With less than 10 individuals on staff, mDhil has managed to reach over 2.3 Million users on SMS and have crossed 1.2 million views of our video health content.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

“Customer Example #1: Amir is 17 years old and sexually active. Most of what he knows about sex has come from movies or television, and he knows very little about contraception or sexual diseases. He’s curious to learn more, but it’s a taboo subject in his community. Unfortunately, Amir lives in a nation with one of the highest HIV populations in the world. There hasn’t been an easy place to learn the facts until now…by texting 54444 on his Idea Cellular phone with key word “MTEEN” he can start to receive text messages geared for teenage males. Topics covered include disease prevention, condom usage, and basics of reproductive health.” “Customer Example #2: Maya would like to know more about women’s reproductive health and feminine hygiene – but like many Indians her family does not discuss taboo topics such as menstruation and women’s health. Most of the information she hears is full of misleading lies & false claims, and she would like to get real advice based on facts. There has not been an easy place to learn more until now, and on the privacy of her mobile phone.”

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Currently, there are no other companies in India providing original, customized healthcare information designed to be viewable on mobile handsets. There are commercial companies which provide other information services on mobile phones (cricket, bollywood, astrology, etc.), however, there are none which focus exclusively on healthcare. There are over 700 million mobile subscribers in India. Families with household incomes less than Rs. 6000 per month spend Rs. 50 – 100 on mobile phone usage. The price points of these devices are dropping, with video-capable mobile phones available at Rs. 2000 onwards. This medium allows for significant mass audience penetration, while still addressing the communication needs of the individual. The price of mobile internet access has dropped to be priced at Rs. 2/day in India – and mobile carriers are heavily promoting data services in urban and rural India. It has become common to see the poorest-of-the-poor have a low-cost mobile phone equipped with a browser, and many are seeking health information. This fact has helped us achieve tremendous growth in the last 15 months.We have achieved over 3.6 mil video views on YouTube, with our videos on reproductive & sexual health being the most popular. 45% of these views come from mobile phones, We have more than 200,000 fans on Facebook – and we receive queries on basic healthcare issues regularly from this user base


Indrani Sharma's picture

Thank you for your participation in AFI Growth Prize Competition. We have a key question for you:What is your strategy for spreading this innovation by scaling up or replicating, and financing this growth?

Please post your response as comment here, before Dec 15, 2012 to be considered for final evaluation.