Dr. Avantika Batish is Director Strategy and Healthcare at International Health Emergency Learning and Preparedness.
Innovation has hit the healthcare sector – national and international – big time! Revolutionary technologies have refreshed the concept of medication and treatment. Enlisted are few of the healthcare innovations in India and abroad, to show what a long way we have come!
Healthcare is one of the largest and progressive sectors worldwide. Health innovation has always been there but it is only recently that it has caught the attention of all the stakeholders. the growth of science and technology is affecting and enhancing the growth of health innovation too. Latest developments in the IT field have facilitated and accelerated this process. If you just glance over the latest scenario, it becomes very evident that health innovation efforts are being made in every area of healthcare and every part of the world. The same technologies that revolutionized the commerce, transportation and finance industries are now bearing down on the $3 trillion healthcare industry, promising to simultaneously improve care delivered while reducing cost. The scope of revolutionary technologies includes diagnostics and monitoring, wearable devices, tele-health, medical modeling, smart devices, data management, tracking and delivery and much more.
Recent Indian innovations
HealthEnablr raises $800K in seed funding
Bamasish Paul, CEO and co-founder, HealthEnablr
Founded in September 2015
Healthcare startup HealthEnablr India Pvt Ltd has raised $800,000 (around Rs 5.4 crores) in seed funding from a group of unnamed professionals, including some prominent investors from Silicon Valley and Hong Kong. The new capital will be used to develop the company’s patented EMR technology and consolidate sales efforts.
The startup connects patients and physicians via video, telephonic conversations and messages, besides offering doctor discovery services. Currently operating in Mumbai and Kolkata, HealthEnablr aims to have a network of over 50,000 verified doctors by the end of 2016. It offers products and services through its mobile and web application, and has plans to expand into a healthcare marketplace, enabling patients to choose and buy healthcare packages from HealthEnablr as well as its growing network of affiliate partners.
Medikoe ties-up with Manipal to launch In-App SOS Feature for Emergency Medical Services
Sreevalsan Menon, Founder and CEO, Medikoe
Launched in October 2015
Medikoe was brought into existence by ex-IBM colleagues Sreevalsan Menon and Raman Shukla, as a disrupter in the online healthcare space. The non-availability of prescribed medicines online, lack of information on healthcare services in different cities and lack of access to verified and specialized home care treatment faced in daily life convinced them to introduce this novel platform. Medikoe, the first online medical platform to provide value-added offers on 360-degree Healthcare & Wellness products and services on a single platform, has joined hands with “Manipal Ambulance Response Service” (MARS) along with technology partner Helpzone Technologies to initiate emergency care treatment in Bangalore. The new SOS feature on Medikoe’s app allows the customer to alert 5 people about the medical emergency including the geo-location, as well as get automatically directed to the first level emergency consultation by Manipal Doctors. If need be, they can also get access to an ambulance rushed to the emergency location as fast as possible. At Manipal Health Enterprises, by joining hands with a holistic platform like Medikoe, we will be able to provide total monitored emergency medical assistance during any crisis situation.
Capitalizing on Medikoe’s wide reach, Manipal will also be able to help the patients and the community at large, save precious lives during the ‘golden hour’.
“Helpzone Technologies has piloted a brand-new concept of ’Titanium Seconds’ with Manipal Hospitals Bangalore, with the primary objective of enabling consumers’ quick access to credible medical emergency assistance within a few seconds of raising an alert. With the Medikoe partnership, we hope that a larger number of citizens can make use of the service,” says Deepa Jeetu, co-founder of Helpzone Technologies.
Cognizant’s new digital healthcare platform, Health TranZform
Cognizant, a leading provider of information technology, consulting, and business process outsourcing services, announced the development of a new digital healthcare platform, Cognizant Health TranZform. Developed with technology from Orion Health, this new digital platform will help consumers make more informed decisions about the cost and quality of their care, while simultaneously enabling healthcare providers and payers to drive greater levels of consumer engagement and operational efficiency. With the healthcare industry shifting from fee-for-service to value-based care, traditional healthcare organizations are increasingly transforming their business models to deliver consumer-centric care. The Health TranZform platform will serve as a cloud-based industry utility, enabling different healthcare stakeholders to easily interact with each other and consumers across the care continuum. By creating a secure platform, data from multiple systems, including payer data from Cognizant’s TriZetto payer core administration platforms, data from physician practice management systems and other healthcare ecosystem platforms can be integrated with electronic health records (EHR), to provide an improved customer experience and drive new solutions.
Cognizant is working with leading global partners like Orion Health to integrate capabilities into the Cognizant Health TranZform platform that will give healthcare organizations a cost-effective, seamless way to provide a differentiated, high-value, customer-centric experience.
Ramakrishanan Venkataraman, Co-Founder and COO
Healthcare in India is constantly evolving and many organizations are adopting best global practices that can enhance the quality of healthcare delivery in India. Technology is at the core of what Attune does. They are constantly upgrading their technology and innovating new solutions to make healthcare affordable, seamless and efficient for the entire healthcare value chain.
Attune Technologies, an Innovative healthcare IT product company, was recently recognized the “SiliconIndia Company of the Year 2015 for Healthcare IT” by SiliconIndia. The award was in recognition of Attune Technology’s innovative product offerings and services in the healthcare category. Attune has been making its journey at a rapid pace spreading its operations to 14 countries in a period of only 6 years. Attune Technologies currently offers cloud-based solutions to over 200 hospitals, laboratories, and clinics in India and worldwide and manages more than 10 million patient records. The platform provides hospitals, labs, and clinics with integrated services like management of patient data, scheduling and billing, and workflow on the cloud.
SigTuple Raises Seed Funding from Flipkart, Accel Partners
Tathagato Rai Dastidar, Rohit Kumar Pandey and Apurv Anand, FoundersFounded in 2015
A Bengaluru-based medical technology startup has risen seed funding from Flipkart founders Sachin and Binny Bansal, VC firm Accel Partners and other angel investors. Other investors who invested in the round include Nirupa Bareja (former Biocon executive), Ashok Bareja (former India head of the now-defunct National Semiconductor), and Debanjan Mukherjee (Amazon Lab126 executive).
The startup builds intelligent solutions for medical diagnosis using state-of-the-art machine learning techniques. It develops products for automated analysis of medical images and data to aid diagnosis. The company has built a technology-powered product called Shonit, which comprises a microscope, a mobile phone app and a cloud-powered engine for analysis and reporting. It automatically analyses images of blood captured through a microscope as well as detect various diseases like anemia, malaria, leukemia and other diseases.
Portea Medical Invests in Health Tech Startup PSTakeCare
Pratik Chinchole, Co-Founder & CEO of PSTakeCare
Portea Medical, Indian home healthcare company has picked up majority stake in health-tech startup, PSTakeCare, the platform of which connects key stakeholders in the healthcare delivery ecosystem. Through a combination of comprehensive information, analytics and consumer feedback, PSTakeCare places decision-making power in the hands of patients. The investment in PSTakeCare follows Portea’s acquisition of pharmaceutical distributor, MedybizPharma in November 2015.
PSTakeCare’s technology equips healthcare consumers with relevant knowledge on doctors, hospitals and other healthcare service providers, enabling them to take healthcare decisions based on factors such as insurance coverage provided, procedure-specific feedback and room-wise costs. The platform also presents actual photographs of medical facilities and will use advanced analytics and consumer feedback to provide comprehensive information to the patients. PSTakeCare intends to become the first port-of-call for patients seeking information on doctors, hospitals and labs for any medical procedure. Going forward, we will continue to focus on building disruptive products and services in healthcare, solving key patient needs through innovation. Presently the company is operational in Mumbai.
Diabetes management through start-up Diabetacare
Indian medical start-up Diabetacare which has used innovative digital technology to revolutionize diabetes management in India through mobile interface and to its credit the company has been nominated for the internationally acclaimed ‘Global Mobile Awards 2016’. Diabetacare was shortlisted under the category ‘Best mobile innovation’ for “The internet of things” at the prestigious platform.
Diabetacare has offered a unique 24×7 care support platform that automatically takes care of all aspects of diabetes care – from screening, intervention to monitoring. Reducing the requirement of patient travelling to different sources for blood tests, reports and consultation, Diabetacare has unified all aspects of diabetes management under one platform. The system has set up a 24×7 monitoring service through a set of leading-edge devices that allows a patient to be connected to a centralized monitoring system.
Diabetacare also owns a unique connected new generation ‘glucometer’ that transmits glucose readings to their secured database to be updated in the patients’ personalized electronic medical record (EMR) system.
Diabetacart: A small, portable kit that allows their diabetes specialist nurses to screen patients for diabetes at home or in the clinic. Diagnostic components include a retinal camera for diabetic retinopathy screening, a 12 lead ECG for assessing cardiovascular risk, a vascular Doppler for blood pressure, dynamic foot pressure mapping capability, and much more.
InTouch App: This helps the physician manage and monitor patients that require extra care and attention. The app is compatible with both iOS and Android devices, including tablets, ’phablets’, and smartphones.
dCare Smart: This is a connected “smart” glucometer. Results are transmitted within 30 seconds to the EMR system. It is powered by Vodafone GSM SIM and connected to secured award winning M2M platform.
DxNET: This is a comprehensive EMR system that helps in clinical decision making (CDM) by providing prompts and reminders to the experts and their patients for better quality care.
InMobi & Noora Health
Efforts of two Bangalore-based start-ups InMobi and Noora Health also definitely need to be mentioned here. According to Fast Company, a U.S.-based business magazine that focuses on technology, business and design, InMobi and Noora Health were the only two Indian companies to make it to the list of Top 50 Innovative Companies, ranking 15th and 45th respectively. Noora Health is a lesser-known Indian company, ranked 45th for improving the lives of surgery patients in India. The non-profit organization graduated from the start-up incubator Y Combinator in 2014, and trains doctors and nurses in local hospitals all over India to train groups of family members on basic care like checking the pulse, supervising patient care for those recovering from a surgery or even a lifestyle disease like diabetes. Noora uses an iPad app and offers videos, quizzes, and interactive content to impart this training for at-home recovery, while working to reduce hospital readmission rates.
Digital Magic Wand
Then a ‘digital magic wand’ has been developed to improve healthcare and cybersecurity in which researchers have developed a hardware device to improve home healthcare and to prevent hackers from stealing your personal data. But these new technologies, whether in the form of software for smartphones or specialized wearable / portable devices also pose risks if they’re not designed or configured with security and privacy in mind. So one of the main challenges is that most people do not know how to set up and maintain a secure network in their home, which can lead to compromised or stolen data. It may also potentially allow hackers to access critical devices such as heart rate monitors or dialysis machines.
In the new Dartmouth-based project, the researchers developed ‘Wanda’, a small hardware device that has two antennas separated by one-half wavelength and uses radio strength as a communication channel. The clever solution makes it easy for people to add a new device to the Wi-Fi network of their home (or clinic): They simply pull the wand from a USB port on the Wi-Fi access point, carry it close to the new device and point it at the device. Within a few seconds, the wand securely beams the secret Wi-Fi network information to the device. The same method can be used to transfer any information from the wand to the new device without anyone nearby capturing the secrets or tampering with the information. “People love this new approach to connecting devices to Wi-Fi,” says Tim Pierson from Dartmouth College.
“We anticipate our ‘Wanda’ technology being useful in a wide variety of applications, not just healthcare, and for a wide range of device management tasks, not just Wi-Fi network configuration,” Kotz said. The findings will be presented at the IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications in San Francisco in April.
ICHR – a digital platform for children
The children’s health records will now be made available at the click of a button. India’s first ever digital platform, Integrated Child Health Record (ICHR), to keep children’s health records, has been launched recently. Supported by cloud computing and mobile technology, ICHR is a revolutionary product to map a child’s health and track vaccination. ICHR is supported by a first-of-its-kind mobile application to address pressing concern of parents willing to track their child’s growth and vaccination. The mobile interface will be available for both android and iOS users. ICHR provides and automates long-term surveillance of a child’s growth. It has other benefits too, like; it will also help in early detection of obesity and malnutrition in urban and rural population respectively. It also addresses the dire need of maintaining the data centrally for research purposes. Once fully implemented, ICHR will become a potent tool in providing authentic region-specific data for analyzing and identifying probable reasons and solutions for both child vaccination and growth related issues. This application is all about empowering parents regarding their children’s vaccination and growth. This application removes the manual vaccination cards and makes the experience paperless and traceable from any part of the world. This is the only app available in India to track the growth of premature babies, whether they are in the hospital or discharged from there, till the age of 5. (The only app, which continues from Fenton chart to the WHO chart). , It is a HIPAA compliant cloud-based solution, with a secure technology, which can be easily linked to hospital’s HIS/EMR system via HL7 or integration adaptors. There is no physical software installation needed to start using iCHR. Being on Amazon cloud, doctors can access real time patient information, regarding growth and vaccination, from any part of the world using Internet.
3D bio-printed liver tissues
The 3D bio-printing market is one of the fastest growing areas in 3D printing right now and in this light, a Bangalore-based bio-tech startup Pandorum Technologies has successfully developed artificial 3D bio-printed liver tissues that mimic human liver functions, enabling affordable medical research for developing new life-saving medicines and vaccines, and eventually leading to full-scale, transplantable 3D printed organs. The breakthrough makes Pandorum the first Indian firm to develop 3D bio-printed liver tissues, and represents a major step forward in the on-demand manufacturing of 3D printed human organs.
In addition, the company noted that it was able to keep the artificial liver cells alive for as long as four weeks. The companies are in a race to develop functional human tissues, skin, vascular systems, and eventually entire organs. Quite recently, we have seen a few major breakthroughs, including 3D printed ‘living’ blood vessels that can deliver nutrients and self-assemble just as in the human body; and the first 3D printed thyroid gland used in a successful transplant operation on a mouse.
Liver toxicity and drug metabolism are the key hurdles and contributors to failed human trials so Pandorum’s 3D bio-printed mini-livers that mimic the human liver will serve as test platforms for discovery and development of drugs with better efficacy, less side-effects and at lower costs.
This is a significant milestone, indeed!
Healthcare Innovations Abroad
Singaporean startup Healint for tracking migraine
Singaporean startup Healint has built a platform and an app, Migraine Buddy, to give patients an easy-to-use interface to monitor all their symptoms and related information, like intensity, triggers, medications and other lifestyle factors. Recently, Healint built a sleep-detection algorithm into Migraine Buddy. It automatically tracks users’ snooze time and correlates that and other behaviors with data about when migraines occur, to predict attacks better. Eventually, Healint hopes to be able to track and report flare-ups for conditions like asthma, epilepsy and spinal stenosis.
A video game headset to help children with ADHD focus
Licensing technology developed by researchers at the Institute for Infocomm Research in Singapore, Boston-based Company Atentiv hopes to strengthen focus in adolescents through a video game experience. The company’s first product set to launch this year, measures brain activity through a headband and sends that information back to a computer via Bluetooth. This Singaporean technology is able to hone in on mental activity related to attention rather than memory, making it unique compared to other brain-reading games. The child’s attention level, which is displayed on the screen, determines how quickly their character moves in the corresponding computer game. Initial studies of the technology in Singapore, conducted after eight weeks of game play, revealed a 40% decrease in symptoms like impulsivity and inattention in children with mild to moderate ADHD.
India, Canada comes together to begin research on portable diagnostics & analyzers.
The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the IC-IMPACTS Centres of Excellence (IC-IMPACTS) of Canada (The DBT IC-IMPACTS) partnership has been designed to strengthen existing innovation collaborations between researchers working in India and Canada and to stimulate entrepreneurial deployment of research outcomes into community contexts. The main objectives of this partnership between DBT and IC-IMPACTS are:
a. To showcase Canadian and Indian research and industrial innovation to each nation and accelerate the transfer of knowledge and technologies;
b. To develop innovation and knowledge transfer skills through the training of graduate, doctoral and post-doctoral students participating in research projects and through extended skill development activities focused on research excellence, entrepreneurial training, and commercialization expertise, thus producing the next generation of research innovators who can realize their discoveries; and
c. To strengthen overall research and innovation relationships between Canada and India and extend Canadian and Indian innovation leadership.
The DBT’s initiative in this regard is of great importance as there is a need for portable assays, which bring the high quality diagnostics associated with a central lab to the patient. This DBTIC-IMPACTS joint research program will focus on automated assays, which can multiplex tests for a range of diseases into a simple portable test. Tests should be based on easily collected sample types such as a finger stick of blood, saliva or urine.
This program will particularly support technologies, which can lead to miniature, portable, and cartridge based diagnostics and analyzers using bodily fluids such as blood, saliva or urine.
In particular portable, field deployable devices and technologies which can perform a complete blood count; differentiate between viral and bacterial infection; provide portable detection system for dengue, HIV, hepatitis, malaria and TB; aid in the detection of systemic disease; monitor the nutritional state of a patient (vitamin D, ferritin etc); require low sample volume for application in infant health care; bring together multiple disciplines for innovative results.
Dassault Systèmes and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) sign an agreement on deploying hands on virtual collaborative platform for clinical research It is a Next Generation Scientific Innovation with the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform and Strategic Collaboration to Advance Programs in Aging, Cancer, Genomics and Microbiota. Inserm will use Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform to conduct its strategic biomedical research programs in the areas of aging, cancer, genomics and microbiota. The platform provides Inserm with an integrated virtual environment for open collaborative research, unified laboratory management and biological and chemical modeling and simulation from Dassault Systèmes’ flagship brand dedicated to scientific excellence, BIOVIA. In turn, Dassault Systèmes will leverage big data from Inserm’s research programs to calibrate and validate scientific models that can be applied to future technologies for the clinical research domain. These models will enable the company to develop next-generation industry solution experiences, targeting clinical trials, to accelerate decision-making and to enable earlier efficacy and safety demonstration with virtual trials. Inserm leads in long-term, competitive scientific programs in human health and medicine and the Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform will help Inserm support collaboration, project management, data, resources, traceability and other processes. Bernard Charlès, President & CEO, Dassault Systèmes said, “This fusion of advanced clinical research and the virtual world is a stepping stone to the future of precision medicine and brings us closer to harmonizing product, nature and life.”
Then there was BIOTRONIK, world’s leading cardio and endovascular technology maker which, recently in India, introduced its latest and most advanced Home Monitoring Technology for patients with implanted cardiac devices such as pacemakers, implantable defibrillators (ICDs) and heart failure devices.
BIOTRONIK Home Monitoring® is an Internet based remote monitoring technology that enables physicians to continuously and reliably monitor their patients’ clinical and device status anytime, anywhere, and minimize risk of any negative medical event. The device launched is named the CardioMessenger® which is about the size of a smartphone and is highly robust, more convenient and remarkably portable, as compared to the previous versions of the device. Having the pacemaker wearers constantly connected to their physician, this home monitoring technology enhances safety for the cardiac device patients. The device provides fully automatic transmission of vital information from a patient’s cardiac implant to their physician. . Data is transmitted from the patient’s implant to the CardioMessenger®’s transmitter device, which uses T-Mobile and its partners’ networks (GPRS) to send data to the BIOTRONIK Service Centre, from where the data is sent to the physician. Home Monitoring has helped in the following ways:
a. Doctors worldwide can keep a very close look at their patients’ implanted devices and their cardiac activity.
b. It has helped reduced mortality, episodes of hospitalizations and inappropriate shocks and immensely helped improve the quality of life of patients.
c. It helps use of the full potential of the device that preserves battery life.
d. It has also helped reduce routine clinic follow up, which can be a burden to patients and extra workload for physicians.
e. The physicians get a closer look at trends in different patients. Over a period of time, doctors tend to understand each patient and tailor treatment and advice according to their needs and optimize device function.
f. BIOTRONIK Home Monitoring® is the only remote monitoring system worldwide with US FDA and European CE approval to replace conventional in-office follow ups and provide early detection of clinically relevant cardiac events.
g. It is the only system with fully automated data transmission. No patient interaction is needed, leading to the highest possible patient compliance.
h. Physicians can define the events they wish to be notified about via email, SMS or fax and view the events in order of importance.
i. Regular data recording allows significant trend analysis, help physicians understand patients’ condition and adjust their treatments accordingly.
j. The process also allows better scheduling of follow-up appointments which may be skipped if not needed.
Digital technology has drastically changed the way we live, and its impact on healthcare is also profoundly visible today. The Indian government’s special emphasis on Digital India shows how IT and digitalization is inextricably linked to development. Digitalization is bringing revolutionary changes to healthcare delivery across the world, including use of telemedicine to reach out to patients in remote areas and make diagnosis results quicker.
In the field of eye care Bausch & Lomb, a global health and wellness company, entered into a partnership with Bosch India, to market the latter’s innovative digital Fundus camera. This is a compact retina camera, with special software that can detect conditions such as cataract at an early stage. Digital Fundus eye
camera operates on a rechargeable battery, thus making it lightweight and portable. The findings from the Fundus eye camera can be shared over tele-medicine using the MediBilder software. The automated detection algorithm can detect and mark conditions like diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma. These features allow for comprehensive eye screening at primary level and ensure better point of care services. In addition, the modularity of the device allows wider coverage of diseases apart from that of the retina.
Be it India or abroad, innovation in the healthcare sector is here to make a mark in the lives of millions. The only thing needed here is a little technological awareness, and lo! You can be a smart patient!