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My mother’s day message to young mothers, about the importance of preventive primary care
08 May 2022
My mother’s day message to young mothers, about the importance of preventive primary care image

It was only yesterday I was reminded about this year’s mother’s day when my marketing colleagues shared a mother’s day poster for team preview, the creative supply meant for our social handles to fulfill the routine feed. It wasn’t touchy from any angles. Nor did it have a compelling story for backing up the little graphical efforts they had copy-pasted. It was shallow for a periodic purpose, disappointing. I rejected it outright.

I sounded rude explaining it, even to myself, though. How many children would have their minds triggered seeing it, remembering their mothers emotionally, and caring for their health and wellbeing, at least?

Well, this mother’s day I have a short story to tell, about my own mother, perhaps useful for other mothers if told simple and straight, the painful ordeal my mother has been through in the past few weeks, still mildly persists as I write. Therefore, here comes my first blog on ShopDoc. My first try to write about real-life experiences in healthcare.

She’s 59 now. She became a mother before she turned 20.  As a small boy, I remember looking at my young mother with a lot of pride whenever ladies from the neighborhood would come to her for help carrying doctor’s prescriptions and medical reports. She was the only woman in the whole neighborhood and the entire family who could read English. That pretty much qualified her to interpret confidently and help the confused neighbors with detailed instructions in lay language (Warning: Half doctor kills the patients!). In the end, she would always add, go for minimal allopathic medicines, and beware of the side effects. She was hesitant to see doctors whenever she fell ill with seasonal sickness, she would often encourage everyone in the house to boost natural immunity, and she would also repeat, always, “prevention is better than cure”.

Fast forward 30 years, today, she consumes 6 – 8 tablets daily, and a box of medicines requires monthly refills without fail, the recurring task I’m entrusted with. Her prolonged suffering from multiple lifestyle diseases confirms she didn’t actually follow what she taught us and those ignorant housewives in the neighborhood.

It all started with her diabetes and thyroid disease, followed by cardiovascular, she underwent angioplasty to revive her ailing heart, another worry is regular hypertension, and to make her life really uncomfortable, constipation and gastritis.

And there’s one more villain lately who has been knocking her down, the newest entrant in her list of special attention seekers, which surprisingly went undetected for a few weeks, it had remained as an unresolved mystery that in turn ridiculously exposed the diagnosis processes of multiple hospitals including a private medical college, and specialist doctors at one of the leading tertiary care hospital brands in the country.

In 3 weeks, she was taken to 6 different hospitals. None of them could remotely figure out what exactly caused her pain, the unbearable stomach pain she said had almost killed her, in fact, they all only tried to kill her symptoms.

One doctor even suggested booking a Psychologist consultation as he couldn’t find any trouble in her body after multiple tests and imaging. We, the immediate family members also had our doubts, it was rather psychological, may not be physiological. 

Being the founder of ShopDoc, a platform that has over 3000 doctors and 200 hospitals in its digital network, I felt ashamed for not being able to diagnose my own mother’s new condition, I had to rush to my village to be around my mother, by the time I took her to a physician who’s also a general surgeon possessing expertise in endoscopy, she was already seen by a famous cardiologist, gastroenterologist, urologist, and obstetrician.

The physician found out, finally, it was a case of severe hyponatremia, in simple words, insufficient sodium in the blood. How come all of the other specialist doctors in those reputed big hospitals shockingly missed out to check her sodium level? They all took money for consultation, several diagnostic tests, and prescribed medications. She wasn’t suffering from any terminal illness.

Yet there was no positive outcome for weeks in terms of diagnosis, and the patient had to go through a horrible experience. The whole episode made me ask a few questions myself, why can’t we have a value-based care system as opposed to existing fee-for-service for better patient outcomes in a time-bound manner that can effectively determine the price of the care delivered? It can improve performance, and ensure transparency and accountability in the healthcare system. Introspecting my mother’s history, as she always believed, that prevention is less expensive than curative treatment. A strong preventive-focused primary care system in place could have probably saved my mother from falling into multiple chronic conditions early on. How? 

Instead of the existing primary care system, where people only see doctors whenever they fall ill, a new preventive-focused value-based primary care system will encourage the communities to subscribe to a set of value packages that include not just physician services but also the recommended regular services of a dietician, psychologist, fitness trainer, etc.

That’s why we at ShopDoc have the purpose of building our SmartClinics in every small town, a virtual-first hybrid-future primary care clinic to provide preventive-focused value-based essential healthcare services to the local communities. The societal impact of implementing such a primary care system is enormous.

Going back to my mother again, as a young mother, now I know she didn’t eat right, she probably didn’t know dieticians existed. She wasn’t aware of the importance of caring for her mental health and wellness. There was no support available to maintain her physical fitness. These are also supposed to be the essential elements of proper primary care she deserved. Lack of all these has cumulatively caused her multiple health complications relatively at a young age. I know I can’t reverse my mother’s conditions, but I can certainly help new young mothers to achieve healthier and happier life. Let us work together, to help achieve a healthier and happier life.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers.

Shihab Makaniyil, Founder & CEO, ShopDoc

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