Social media helping medicos to save lives in Kashmir

Srinagar: Though social media has been given a bad name, two young doctors have proved otherwise. The young medicos have created a ‘whatsapp’ group which is helping in saving countless lives in the peripheries spread across Kashmir division.

The whatsapp group named ‘Save Heart Initiative’ a dedicated group is helping in saving people with heart ailments that are brought in an emergency condition to the healthcare facilities situated in the peripheries.

Currently, there are more than two hundred participants in the group, which constitutes doctors posted in various far flung areas, along with some heart specialists and physicians for providing timely medical advice.

Whenever a patient with heart ailment is brought in under the critical situation, the doctors who are stationed there, instead of referring the patient to the tertiary healthcare, seek medical counsel from the Cardiologists and Physicians in the group.

The doctors, after the process of stabilization later on, are able to refer the patient to the tertiary healthcare, if need be.

“When it comes to the emergency cardiac cases, the time factor plays a vital role. If the patient is referred in such a condition, there are greater chances that the patient may succumb even before reaching to the hospital,” said Dr Nasir Shamas, whose brainchild the whatsapp group ‘Save Heart Initiative’ is.

With the help of this whatsapp group, the medics are able to stabilize the patient at the primary level and after doing that they refer the patient for the advanced care, which has drastically decreased the procedural mortality rate in such cases.

The process is simple and is responded to within a jiffy by the specialists present in the group.

“Whenever a medic receives such a case, where he doesn’t know what how to go ahead, he drops the reports of tests that are done on arrival such as Electrocardiogram (ECG) and on the basis of those results, the specialist(s) advise the medic(s) on duty about how to go ahead,” Dr Nasir elaborated about the process which has been bearing fruits so far.

The idea of creating a whatsapp group came when Dr Nasir was sitting at a café in Hazratbal where he asked his fellow doctor Dr Imran Hafiz (Cardiologist), who was stationed at SKIMS, to help him whenever he has to attend to any such case.

Notably, Dr Nasir was working in Ganderbal then. The conversation at the café gave birth to the whatsapp group and the day on 4th of March 2016 the group came into being.

The group is now seen as a major game changer in the healthcare system, paving way to Digital Healthcare in the state, which is in vogue across the west.

Importantly, these two doctors initiated something remarkable, which was also endorsed by the Director Health Services Kashmir Dr Saleem Ur Rehman.  After this, three more medics: Dr Irfan Bhat, Dr Muzaffar and Dr Masood Rashid joined in.  And today almost all the doctors posted in peripheries are connected to the network.

“It has been effective in lessening the deaths that usually were caused due to heart ailments, the medics who are on ground stand connected to the network, whenever they encounter with any of the complication, they just post the details in the group and a specialist is available there round the clock,” he informed.

With this network, from last 100 days more than 500 critical patients have been taken care of at the primary level, who, if referred to other hospitals would have ended up facing complications.

“There were chances that the majority of the patients would not have been able to survive. To such patients, the group was able to provide a kind of first aid and later referred to Srinagar for advanced treatment,” said Dr. Nasir.

The advantages of the whatsapp group seem to be multifaceted: patient flow from primary to tertiary has decreased (particularly in such cases). The authorities after noticing the work that the whatsapp group has been doing established dedicated units at the peripheral level which catered to the needs of such patients and enabled medics to perform such tasks.

The expertise that was required to run such units is being provided through the network of medics here at ‘Save Heart Initiative,’ which in spite of being only two years old, has saved many lives with the determination to save more in future digitally.

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