Clear Concept: Demystifying prescriptions for patients
Health & Fitness

Clear Concept: Demystifying prescriptions for patients

The online platform tries to present a clear idea about how medicines work, why side effects of medicines occur, how to reduce these side effects, and what is the correct regimen of taking medicines

During the Covid-19,  Mohammad Hirok Sheikh’s mother fell ill suddenly. As usual, she went to the doctor and the doctor gave her medicines. Soon after she took those medicines, however, she became restless, unable to sit due to dizziness. 

“Later, I examined the prescription and saw that this was likely due to an interaction with another medicine she was taking,” explained Hirok, who completed his bachelor’s in pharmacy from Jahangirnagar University.

“When we take two or three medicines, one can increase or decrease the ability of another medicine to work. The same happened with my mother,” Hirok said. “In this case, my mother also made a mistake; she took all the medicines at once. This should not be done. Medicines should be taken with a gap in between.”

Hirok realised, not only his mother, but many people in Bangladesh have a lack of knowledge about medicines. 

‘Medicine can be taken anytime before or after food’, ‘medicine for acidity must be taken before taking any other medication’, or ‘expensive antibiotic means better antibiotic’ — many such misconceptions are prevalent in our society. Due to a lack of proper knowledge, these ideas become ‘absolute truths’ for untrained people. 

But taking the wrong medicine or the wrong dose can cause a lot of complications, even death.

Enter Clear Concept, which is working to eradicate misconceptions about medicine and health from people’s minds. The online platform has been working since 2022, with Hirok leading the charge. 

Their motto? ‘Dispel your misconceptions, expand your knowledge’.

Clear Concept aims to answer questions such as ‘what is wrong with the report?’ or ‘it would help me greatly if I am given a thorough understanding of the report’ or ‘I want to know about the generic name and action of prescribed drugs’. To do that, they have a core team of doctors and pharmacists, alongside hundreds of pharmacy students around the country. In recent years they have introduced patient counselling as well as content and campaigns especially catered to druggists and village doctors.  

Clear Concept initially tackled various misconceptions about science, starting in 2019. While working, Hirok saw that there are many misconceptions about medicine as well. Since he studied pharmacy, he did not have much trouble working with medicine.

“We make our videos in such a way that the audience or regular people can easily understand the topic. How the medicine works, why there are side effects to certain medicines, how to reduce those side effects, or what is the correct way to take the medicine,” Hirok further explained.

Bridging the knowledge gap 

Clear Concept’s journey started with Hirok and his friend Durjoy. It grew during the pandemic. 

Initially, students of Jahangirnagar University only joined the team, but soon it spread to different universities across the country. Currently, more than 300 pharmacy students from 25 universities are associated with Clear Concept as executive members.

Dr Fahim Feroze Saqib is associated with Hirok as a co-founder of Clear Concept. The core team also includes a few pharmacists and five doctors, who deal with people’s medication or prescription queries.

“The relationship between a doctor and a patient is only through a prescription. But there is no one to properly explain the prescription to the patient. The druggist is not an expert in medicine. They do not always get it right. Doctors in our country do not always have that time either. Clear Concept is working to bridge this gap,” said Hirok.

It has been self-financed since its inception. 

‘Since I started as a student, I had to earn money and work. The pace of work was slow then. If we had got funding from somewhere, we could have gone further,’ said the young man.

Medicine store compounders get training too

Apart from the general public, one of the customer bases of Clear Concept’s videos are village doctors or medicine store compounders. Clear Concept makes videos for them to impart medical knowledge.

“Many mistakes can be made by the village doctors and medicine store compounders. They are professionals, but do not know or understand medicine as well. I am working to explain medicine to them in a simple way in Bangla.” 

In addition to making videos, Clear Concept also conducts training on medicine through representatives from various universities in pharmacies around their campuses. 

“Our representatives go to various drug stores and explain antibiotic resistance to them. Store compounders are informed about why antibiotic resistance is on the rise,” he added. 

Counselling patients

Clear Concept also provides patient counselling where people can talk to doctors and pharmacists and take various services. 

“We have a group on Facebook called ‘Kon oshudh keno khabo‘ [which medicine should we take and why]. Various prescriptions are reviewed there. But often, it is not enough to fully understand the patient’s problems. That’s why we have started counselling patients,” Hirok said.

Clear Concept has introduced the concept of ‘Community Pharmacist’ online. 

“The patient submits the prescription to us, and we arrange sessions with doctors and pharmacists and the patient. There, we discuss the patient’s disease and the prescribed medicines,” he said.

“This service is provided through direct voice calls. If you ask me what the core theme of Clear Concept is, then I would say patient counselling. Our future aim is to serve patients directly through doctors and pharmacists.”

They launched the patient counselling service from December 2023. So far, they have counselled more than 200 patients through voice calls. Three to four patients are provided with this service every day. After 30 to 40 minutes of counselling, the patient is given the disease, medication regimen and counselling documents in PDF format. Any patient can take this service for Tk150.

“One day a woman came and said that she had mistakenly given her father a medicine twice. She was feeling very guilty and afraid. Every drug has certain therapeutic indications. It means how safe a drug is at any given dose. Fortunately, the medicine given twice by the woman was a safe dose. She was very relieved to hear it. My feeling of happiness at that time cannot be expressed in words,” Hirok recounted.

In recognition of their work, Clear Concept won the ‘Joy Bangla Youth Award’ in 2023. 

According to Hirok, pharmacists do not get as much recognition as doctors in Bangladesh. Many people do not even know that pharmacists work with medicines as well. “When I talk about medicine, there are comments like, ‘Why do you talk about medicine? There are doctors for that.’ This is the problem,” he said.

Hirok dreams of helping 10 lakh people in the next five years. He wants to establish Clear Concept as a ‘complete health platform’. He wants it to be an institution where all kinds of medicine and disease-related problems can be resolved.