Working towards creating a personalised healthcare platform, Dr Shriram Nene spent the lockdown understanding Covid-19 and busting myths surrounding the outbreak on his YouTube channel. In an exclusive interview, he discusses how, through the platform, he plans to reach out to far more patients than he would be able to if he were to consult one-on-one. He also talks about Bollywood superstar and wife Madhuri Dixit and what he adores the most about her.
Excerpts from the interview:
Covid cases are increasing. What do you have to say about it?
What’s clear is that we are going into another spike and it’s particularly evident in Maharashtra, Punjab. Cases are going up in other parts of the country, as well. The question is if the cases are coming from outside or inside – We were doing fairly well in containing the spread but as we opened up all sorts of services (trains, buses, wedding and gatherings), and a lot of people are being casual about the pandemic, we need to remind ourselves that we cannot afford to let our guards down. Social distancing, masks, sanitizing are still a must. This doesn’t mean that we cannot socialize, however, we need to be responsible for not just ourselves but everyone around us.
There are no ICU beds, no ward beds to admit the Covid patients – the physicians on the frontline are much more capable of dealing with it because they do have medications like Remdesivir and steroids required in the later stages and in the earlier stages they know about high-flow oxygen. So, they know how to take care of the sick and not-so-sick Covid patient and they understand who needs to be admitted who can quarantine at home – this will help bring down the mortality rate.
Are there any home remedies to treat Covid-19?
There are no home remedies to treat Covid-19, so far. The medication that could help is Remdesivir which particularly has been shown to cut down the hospital stay but not mortality, however, they are useful if used earlier in the disease. Steroids on the other hand are another option to cure Covid. This can be used later in the stage, say after seven days. Finally, high-flow oxygen is used.
So, as far as treating Covid patients at home is concerned, you can probably symptomatically treat headache and flu, but you will not be able to change the outcome.
Tell us something about your venture. How is technology related to health?
People lack awareness of what is beneficial for them and they lack access to evidence-based international standards. This stems from the fact that none of us is born with a manual and each person’s genetic code and family and social history is different. Therefore, you can have the genes for the disease but you may or may not exhibit it and may not know what will make it worse or better. What we are trying to do is to create personalised precision healthcare through a combination of media technology and a smart services market place. The effect of this is to put a doctor in your pocket 24x7. He will be able to guide you. Pathfinder Health Sciences is media created to both entertain and educate through a combination of long-form, medium-form and short-form content, patients will be able to create a dashboard to empower themselves.
We will bring them up to speed with all that they are going through in layman’s language instead of medical jargon because, like it or not, people get scared of a white coat. I want to make them feel like they have a doctor in the family. When I say doctor, I mean a healthcare system, comprising of experts from the best labs, hospitals, and government services. I think that there's an opportunity here to improve people's lives. Through scripted content, we aim to tell people about medical issues, so that they remember what the causes, symptoms, and options are. When you tell them this way, it sticks; I came to know this through my kids who watch medical shows on TV. The problem right now is, people don’t know when to seek medical help. They only rush to the doctor when they are sick, after ignoring the symptoms for days. Won’t it be great to have an engine dashboard with a check engine light, to educate you as to what's good and bad? It’s like GPS.
Is there any relation between Covid vaccines and heart attacks?
There were some reports of clotting after usage of Astrazeneca, specifically, but when they analysed the data it was no greater – 30 cases in 5 million patients. I have not seen a lot of data that shows the Covid vaccine cause heart attacks directly, now having said that, there is a question if you have an underlined heart disease and you get the flu or viral or inflammatory syndrome after vaccination, could it increase the work of the heart – it is possible, but not related.
How important is diet when we talk about staying healthy?
Well, 80 per cent of maintaining weight depends on the diet. More importantly, in eating a balanced diet, you maintain tissues, which include drinking enough water, getting enough sleep. It’s part of the bigger dialogue – it’s a combination of diet, exercise, and sleeping, mental wellbeing.
You and Madhuri have been creating many YouTube videos on health. Tell us something about it. How did it start?
I launched a YouTube channel during the pandemic and it is a part of the greater effort to launch the healthcare venture. A lot of information is coming from pre-print servers going to headlines and quite honestly creating a level of infodemic. We thought people need to hear the real data based on evidence and international standards. That was the kind of germ for the channel and 99 per cent of the comments coming on the channel are positive and people are appreciating it. We have started a dialogue to help patients to take care of themselves and raising awareness along the way is our aim to improve healthcare worldwide.
3 things about Madhuri you simply adore.
She is humble, hardworking and inside-out beautiful.
Have you started following Bollywood? Which one is your favourite movie?
To be honest, I enjoy great stories – Indian is progressing, it’s becoming more westernised in terms of how stories are played out. We have seen a huge diversion into plot-based movies. I’ve seen a couple of Madhuri’s previous films and they were visually stunning – had some amazing music and dance.
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