A Unique Collaboration: Telemedicine Volunteers
By — Md Shazib Siddique
An excerpt from a conversation with Sairee Chahal, Founder-CEO of SHEROES, which is enabling access to medical assistance for people by providing telemedicine solutions via their volunteer network. This solution comes without breaking the lockdown directions or violating instructions on social distancing.
Shoutouts done by Team SHEROES on the SHEROES app
What is the Telemedicine solution and where did it start?
The telemedicine helpline is a volunteer driven initiative launched by Project StepOne for screening patients who have taken the covid test. It’s the first level screening where the team of volunteers verify the details of the patients and then forward the call to the doctors for further diagnosis.
How did SHEROES get involved with the telemedicine initiative? What led you to work on this solution?
The ACT team in coordination with the Delhi government reached out to me in order to mobilise non-medical volunteers and set up a screening team. Through our SHEROES platform, which is a women-only social network, we launched a campaign and invited our user base to volunteer and become part of the Delhi citizen management team that was providing COVID related help. Hundreds of SHEROES users applied and within 24-hours the first 20 volunteers were shortlisted, trained and mobilised by the our team, to work on the helpline. We have galvanized over 400 volunteers from the SHEROES platform who come from diverse parts of the country, till date.
Our volunteers make phone calls via a cloud based platform and help resolve tickets every day. The volunteers come from all walks of life be it professionals, lawyers, professors, creative people and psychologists. However, the majority of our volunteers are housewives who are keen to do their part towards the fights against COVID19. We are now working with the Punjab Government for setting up a home isolation team.
What were some of the major challenges faced while setting up the initiative? How were these resolved?
Our initial challenges were to ensure that the volunteers stick around and also to motivate them constantly for making more calls a day. However, as they started speaking to people and witnessing the impact of their work, retention was no longer an issue. Saving lives became a top priority for them.
What is the plan for the next few weeks? Where would you need support on scaling up?
Since this is a volunteer effort and most of our team members are women who work remotely, sometimes there are dropouts as they are picking up most of the home labour burden as well. As the cases rise, more volunteers are and will be constantly needed. For expanding our reach, we have now started sourcing volunteers with Kannada language proficiency to support the Karnataka government.
Additionally, we have been supporting ACT with their campaign to encourage more people to wear masks and practice COVID compliance. Moving forward, we are looking to build on more such partnerships so that the impact can be driven on a much larger scale and aid could be provided at a rapid pace.