Three years ago, we launched Practo Search with the vision of simplifying healthcare by helping people make better, more informed decisions about their healthcare providers. Since then, we’ve taken several steps to achieve that vision, including onboarding as many healthcare providers as possible and providing a feedback system that allows patients to highlight their great experience with a doctor and also allows a doctor to respond to the feedback they receive from patients.
These steps helped us improve the ease with which patients could find great doctors. However, mapping specialization and qualification of doctors remains a complex challenge.
Why is search relevance challenging?
Medicine is a dynamic field with hundreds of specialties and thousands of corresponding qualifications. Unfortunately, there is no single, exhaustive, constantly, updated source that maps degrees with the correct specializations. As a result, qualification-specialization guarantee has remained somewhat inconclusive.
This issue hurts everybody. Genuine doctors who have the right specialty are unhappy as those with incorrect specialties can show up in the search results. Patients too, have a sub-optimal experience and of course, if neither doctors, not patients are happy, we at Practo are definitely unhappy. So we’ve decided to find a solution to this issue. We have created a central repository that would accurately associate all the specialties in India with the right and relevant qualifications.
Our key effort in this direction is an extremely crucial tool – the Practo Blue Book.
What is the Practo Blue Book?
Practo Blue Book is a singular repository that matches qualifications with the right specializations. Of course, to build this, we needed enormous help from our doctor community, so we’ve spent several months working with the medical councils, the medical associations as well as senior doctors to guide us in creating this book that now defines how we classify doctors into specializations. Obviously, for a project of this nature, the work is never finished and the Blue Book also is a project that is constantly improving. We need, and seek inputs from all doctors out there. If you have a suggestion on a match or feel a match is incorrect or incomplete, please let us know and we will incorporate your suggestions into the book.
How does it work?
Anyone with a reliable source of information can contribute to the Blue Book project. You can suggest new additions as well as changes to existing qualification-specialisation matches as long as your information is supported by verifiable facts.
You can check out the Blue Book here: https://www.practo.com/bluebook/india.
- Select a specialization that you wish to add a new qualification to or remove a mismatch from
- Add details about the new or existing qualification that you think is appropriate or missing from the chosen specialization
- Submit evidence URL or snippet from relevant authorities to help us verify the information
- Following the submission, our internal team would verify the provided information and make modifications to qualification-specialisation mapping so that future classifications and searches would be more accurate
How do you verify suggestions given for the Blue Book?
We take great pains to ensure that we have the most accurate information in the Blue book. Each suggestion provided goes through the following check:
- Any legally valid documents supporting the change. Documents can include degree certificates, MCI registration certificate, any evidence from the state or central MCI websites, and of course any relevant judicial judgments.
- W.r.t the degrees, we require these from MCI approved colleges as well as from MCI approved courses.
- We also consider MCI approved international qualifications
- For specializations that are unregulated, the evaluation is done based on the duration of the course and the college from where the degree is obtained, in consultation with the respective medical association & experts
Broadly, our aim with the framework is to ensure that every doctor on Practo is compliant with the relevant legal and ethical requirements as stated by the relevant councils. For example, the Medical Council of India states:
“A physician shall not claim to be specialist unless he has a special qualification in that branch.” The special qualification means degree/diploma in the concerned specialty. However, this provision does not debar a doctor having proper, documented/certified, adequate training/exposure in an institution recognized by MCI thereby gaining/ competency and experience to work in any particular discipline/branch where he has got special interest.”
With this effort, we hope to dramatically improve the accuracy of our doctor classification. But we need your help to make this as robust as possible. We look forward to your suggestions on improving the blue book and making it the most accurate specialty-qualification mapping system for our country.