Nobody likes to talk about health, especially ill health. Let’s face it- talking about illness is boring, scary and disempowering. When confronted with an illness, we all would prefer to bury our head in the sand and hope that it goes away.

I know people who are as bored and disinterested talking about money. Aditi, my wife is one of those people. But we still end up making investment decisions because those are empowering. Aditi and I were scared when taking on a loan to buy our house. We still did that because the thought of our own home was empowering and the process was reasonably efficient and transparent.

There are conversations that, even if boring and intimidating, hold the promise of taking you from your current, normal state to a more empowered state. Sickness conversations, when you can have them, take you from a depleted state to your current state. It just isn’t as exciting to know how to stay where you are. This is also the reason why most people are more interested in fitness conversations – these are empowering. Talking about that pain in the chest – not so good.

There’s a wide range of reasons why people avoid conversations about their health, one of them is that these conversations are scary and unpleasant. There are other reasons. Imagine, you are a 35-year-old woman, in reasonably good health and have a pain in your left knee. The pain doesn’t cripple you, but it is there and nags you. The first barrier is to acknowledge to yourself (amidst all the responsibilities you bear) the pain exists, is real and that something needs to be done about it. This is the boring and scary stage. Not really an empowering conversation. And it’s not critical so you keep procrastinating. You keep deprioritizing thinking about the pain – there’s always something more important to be done.

You may get to finally admitting to yourself that the pain does exist and that something ought to be done about it. What do you do? Find a doctor. Let’s say you know who to go to. You call and take an appointment, spend an hour getting to the clinic, an hour waiting, an hour to come back. Most likely, you’ll need to queue up to get some additional tests done (definitely an X-Ray in this case), perhaps some blood tests, buy some pain relief medication and then again to show the results to the doctor. So a pain that you did not want to acknowledge, is not urgent or critical, takes you away from your work for at least half a day (or perhaps two half-days), and if the intensity of the pain is not severe, you start thinking, it’s not worth it.

The above example could be you, your spouse, or your parent – any of us suffering from a slight change in our normal state that is not critical enough to bring to the attention of others. Unless your complaint is urgent and emergent, the barrier to accessing health guidance is just too high. And the perceived benefit of talking about the complaint is just not high enough. This is what we are trying to change through Mirai ConsultTM, our free service that connects people like you and me with healthcare experts.

Mirai ConsultTM offers people the opportunity to ask questions about health. The service does not replace a health consultation (it does replace a search engine), but provides critical guidance before you know you need to see a doctor. What kind of doctor should I see? Do I need to worry about this symptom? When do I need to worry about this symptom? These are the kind of questions that the Mirai ConsultTM panel of experts provides guidance on. Our users are not necessarily patients. They may be perfectly healthy individuals needing information to care for someone in their family. Or they could be individuals that may become patients later. Either way, the service lowers the barrier for thousands of Indians to access healthcare guidance from experts within their cities. Over the last month, we have had over 400 questions posted on our site. We hope our free service makes it a little easier for our patients to make critical decisions about accessing their doctors.

A few things were important for us to ensure a good experience for doctors and patients. Complete confidentiality of the questions – we don’t know and don’t care who is asking what question, as long as you receive an actionable response from a credible health expert. You will also find no advertising on our sites. We believe if you are on our site, a serious issue brings you here. We don’t want to belittle your state of mind by bombarding you with meaningless advertising. I once saw a lingerie ad on a site advertising a doctor’s services – I know it was without the knowledge of the doctor! You won’t see those annoying pop-up ads on our site. We actively seek feedback from users of Mirai ConsultTM to help us improve experience for our doctors and patients.

Please register on consult.miraihealth.com and start interacting with our healthcare experts. We went live in June 2014.

You can download our Mirai Consult app from the following links-

iOS App

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/miraiconsult/id887922342?mt=8

Android App

https://play.google.com/store/search?q=miraiconsult&c=apps&hl=en

Aakash is a physician by training and worked in the pharmaceutical industry before embarking on an entrepreneurial journey with his wife Aditi in 2011. Mirai Health is their third baby and follows the birth of their two boys, Siddhant and Samin. Besides healthcare innovation, Aakash is passionate about running and sports.