This is an MMS you’d never want to see. Accessory exporter and new mom Deepika Nath, 29, needed instant diagnosis for her 10-month-old daughter last week but couldn’t make it to a doctor, so she did the next best thing: made an MMS of the symptoms and sent it to the paediatrician.
“I feel stupid calling the paediatrician at odd hours so I usually text (SMS) the list of symptoms to the doctor, who promptly gets back. I thought of sending an MMS when Maheka developed rashes on her scalp and I didn’t quite know how to describe them in text,” says Nath.
“It reflects the changing face of the doctor-patient interaction. I’ve been sent clips of the symptoms – a kid with stomach cramps bawling in pain. Since the cramps may subside by the time you visit the doctor, a recording would work better,” says Dr. Anupam Sibal, senior paediatrician and group director of hospitals services at Apollo Hospitals, who treats little Maheka.
Though MMS is new, texting symptoms and emailing scanned reports – as opposed to reading them out – has become routine in most metros. “Scanning and emailing medical reports is convenient as there are no chances of typos. Over 50 per cent of my
patients mail reports,” says Dr Shashank Joshi, senior endocrinologist, Lilavati Hospital, Mumbai.
The e-diagnosis field has no medico-legal protection yet. “Going by the tonnes of mails we get from patients every day, we need regulation,” says Dr Joshi.
“Most people feed dosage reminders on the mobile even as I’m writing the prescription. I worry about what would happen if they lose their cellphone,” says Dr Sibal. If that happens, patients could text him for a new prescription. Or, if it’s a phone with an MMS of boils or puke, wait for it to be returned, with sympathy.