The Association of Minimal Access Surgeons of India (AMASI) has sought intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to curb the “unethical practice” of mobile app-based patient referral in India that directs patients to surgeons or doctors “without examination”, saying it jeopardises adequate clinical judgement.
AMASI, which claims to be the largest subsection of Association of Surgeons of India (ASI) with more than 11,000 members, alleged that some hospitals were also in alliance with these mobile app firms, which then “direct unsuspecting patients to the hospital which pays maximum to the app company”.
In a letter to the prime minister, AMASI President Dr Jugindra Sorokhaibam said the Executive Committee of AMASI has learnt that certain mobile apps were being utilised in the country “to direct patients to surgeons/doctors without examination, who have signed contracts with these companies”.
The payment is made to the mobile app company and the company pays an amount to the surgeon after reduction of commission.
“This practice is highly unethical. It jeopardises adequate clinical judgment by a trained person regarding need for surgery and decision as to the type of surgery that would be optimum for the particular patient. The apps are made for the sole purpose of making money,” he wrote.
Accusing the mobile apps “making the public choose the cheapest offer” in their advertisements, AMASI said the “demeaning attitude and action of such companies is very detrimental to the self image of the medical community”.
Dr Sorokhaibam further said, “It has also been brought to our notice that some hospitals are also in alliance with these mobile app companies which then direct unsuspecting patients to the hospital which pays maximum to the app company.” Seeking PM Modi’s intervention, he said, “All such mobile app companies may be removed from operating in India.” Further, he urged the prime minister to instruct the National Medical Commission for “cancellation of registration of such hospitals that are in connivance with these app companies and encourage their activities by way of paying back handsome kickbacks or giving cheaper offers”.
Calling for implementation of strict laws against the practice, he said the amount and degree of punishment must be enhanced and regulatory bodies regarding ethical practice of health care delivery should be given “more and stronger powers for quick implementation of their responsibilities”.
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