What my Sabziwali taught me about the Internet, Mobile Health & Smartphones

Photo by Stephanie Liao on Unsplash

It’s very common for a pharma professional having neighbors, friends and relatives to engage in conversation over medicines. One such conversation – a pleasant surprise – which intrigued me to dig deep into internet dynamics was one with the local roadside Sabziwali (vegetable vendor lady in her late 30s and little educated) near home who stopped me one day, insisting, “Bhaiyya ek help kardo” while handing me her iPhone. At first, I thought she was asking me if the iPhone was mine. Or maybe she thought my wife had left it behind while buying vegetables. Then I realized it was neither. In fact, she had a question for me as she knew me as a “dawai ki factory wala” (working in a medicine factory).

  • The 1mg app was open on iPhone with some glucosamine brands being searched.
  • She showed me a prescription from a local MBBS GP for her mother who is suffering from spondylitis. I often see her mother at the vegetable counter in frail condition with evident kyphosis and I used to remember it as surely a wedging or a compression fracture at the T12/ thoracolumbar region.
  • The prescription had some leading brands. One of a glucosamine for 3 months, a tramadol and paracetamol for a week and a multivitamin for 3 weeks

She asked me, “Bhaiyya ye daactar ne sahi likha hai ya doosre daactar ko dikhana hai?”

(Has this doctor prescribed correctly or should we take a second opinion).

The incident left surprised, though I recommended her to trust her doctor. This is one of several incidents that we as pharma executives comes across very often. There are several insights here. She had a second-hand iPhone, knew to use Google, had the 1mg app on her phone and was searching healthcare related content on the internet. This incident was when I decided to research the digital trends. Jotting down a few of my thoughts and after combing through more than a dozen reports and studies, I would like to put forward the facts and trends in this article. What we can/should do in pharmaceuticals is up to you to decide.


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About Pawan V. Kulkarni

Pawan V. Kulkarni is the General Manager: Corporate Strategy at J B Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd.