If you are travelling and are at a place where accessing a doctor is not possible, there is help at hand, provided you are an Aircel Ltd subscriber. Dial a number from your Aircel connection and you can talk to healthcare professionals for basic advice. However, don’t look forward to a permanent medical solution on the phone.

Illustrations by Shyamal Banerjee/Mint

Says Charles Antony, chief executive officer, HealthNet Global, information technology adviser to Apollo Hospitals, “There is a clinical governance committee consisting of senior most doctors of Apollo Hospitals which oversees the clinical performance of the product."

How it works

Just dial a short code, 55104, and get connected to a medical response centre where you can talk to Apollo-certified healthcare professionals, including doctors, paramedics, physical therapist or nurses. However, before you can talk to a professional, you will have to answer a few questions already fed into the system. The solution will be based on your answers. You may be given preventive or curative solutions and may even be referred for hospitalization. The facility is available round the clock.

What you get

The facility will address health issues such as abdominal pain, back pain, chest pain, constipation, diarrhoea, knee pain, pregnancy, among others, across all age groups.

You will be charged 45 per consultation, but will get free follow-up consultation if you call back within three days.

In case you are advised hospitalization and you want an ambulance, you will get that too. You can even get medicines home delivered and book an appointment with a doctor at Apollo hospitals and clinics.

Mint Money take

Remember that the facility is not a replacement for a doctor and offers only a quick remedy at that point of time. For minor problems, you can always call up your family doctor and get a temporary solution. If there is a serious medical emergency, you should anyway not waste time and see a doctor as early as possible.

“I would prefer to meet the doctor personally before being prescribed a medication or any other advice. The adherence of a common set of clinical protocol is fairly low in India. Unless the specific clinical protocol and the validation process is strong enough then the facility will fall flat," says Deepak Mendiratta, a health expert.

In case the situation is serious and you need to call an ambulance, it may not make sense to pay 45, when you can get the facility free of cost by calling the emergency helpline of the nearest hospital.