In a country where just over 10% of its population can speak English, the need to break down the language barrier in patient-doctor communications and facilitate equitable, value-based healthcare cannot be emphasized enough. Keeping this in mind, Practo, India’s leading integrated healthcare company, has introduced vernacular language options for its teleconsultation service.
This initiative will allow online consultation users to choose a doctor who can speak in their preferred language. Currently, this service covers 15 languages – including Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Kannada and Bengali – with more to be added soon. With this, Practo is one step closer to breaking down access barriers for 200 million unique users in the future.
After receiving lakhs of user requests for language-specific features on Practo, this was launched as a pilot project earlier this year, with Hindi as the alternate option for users to choose from.
This led to an increase in the number of teleconsultations on Practo in just a month, with a lot of people choosing Hindi as their preferred language for teleconsultation. During this time, 25% of all online consultations on Practo were conducted in vernacular languages, as other languages – including Tamil, Marathi, and Kannada – were gradually integrated into the system. Around 67% of all vernacular consultations were from users living in non-metro cities. Remarkably, 65% of all vernacular consults were from users aged 60 and above.
Commenting on the new initiative, Siddhartha Nihalani, VP – Product Growth, Practo, said, “With a single-minded focus on creating equitable access to quality healthcare, Practo has devoted the past 12 years in building products that suit the needs of a heterogeneous user base. This has given rise to new products and more layers in older ones. In enabling interactions in native languages for online consultations – that undoubtedly enjoys wide acceptance – we hope to be one step closer to turning our vision of building access to quality healthcare into reality.”
Given that 9 out of 10 new internet users in India are native language speakers, an initiative like this will be critical in bridging the digital divide and overcoming language barriers in India’s growing digital healthcare ecosystem.
The vernacular language support feature will now be available on both Practo app and website. The company is also planning to introduce new interface capabilities to make the doctor-patient interaction more seamless and engaging.