Health startups in India

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Health startups are stirring things up in the sector by not just offering patient’s better diagnostics but also making medical aid more accessible.

If there was one field where innovation has the double effect of being contemporary and good for health, it has to be in the medical world. Fortunately in India, startups have been doing a lot of research and field work spurred both by Government and private funding to make sure health is more reachable and understandable. We list 10 such startups that are doing some innovative work that is changing the wellness and health scene in the country.

Innovation: Doctor Network

What it is: This is a network of doctors for discussing and collaborating on patient cases. Curofy encourages peer-to-peer collaboration in learning and solving cases to help them keep up to date with the latest in the medical world.

How does it work: It is a platform with more than 3 lakh doctors can share cases, provide referrals, communicate with other doctors and access most recent, specialty-wise developments taking place in their field.

How it can help patients: Though the platform is only for doctors it helps them discuss real-life cases of their patients and take opinions from other doctors and specialists across the country, resulting in better outcomes for the patients.

Innovation: Breast Cancer Detection Tool

What it is: Based on the patented technique called Thermalytix™ that uses sophisticated AI and ML techniques over thermal images Niramai’s innovation automatically identifies potential abnormalities and generates a human interpretable medical report.

How does it work: Niramai solution is an innovative method for breast cancer detection. The screening procedure is very simple. The lady walks into a small booth or a covered area where she sits at a 3 feet distance from a thermal sensor. The thermal sensor measures the temperature variations on her chest, and Niramai software analyses these thermal signatures to generate a breast health report automatically. The report can be reviewed remotely by an expert radiologist for verification. No one touches or even sees her during the screening.

How it can help patients: “Niramai test has the ability to detect breast abnormalities even before a lump can be detected with hand. Such early detection increases treatment effectiveness, reduces treatment cost and better quality of life post treatment,” says Nidhi Mathur, COO & Co-founder, Niramai. Since it does not involve any radiation, people who have a family history of cancer can get themselves checked regularly without risk of exposure to radiation, pain or discomfort of letting someone else examine their breasts.

Innovation: Virtual assistant for doctors

What it is: Navi is a voice-powered system, which allows doctors to write prescriptions, schedule follow-ups, search patient records, and manage their practice on both computers and mobiles.

How does it work: Navi records commands or instructions or phrases being uttered by the user, takes the useful parts of the command and converts it into an electronic medical record and patient management system – Navia SMART. “In the first phase, we are focusing on using Navi to write digital/electronic prescriptions. When a doctor needs to write a prescription, all they need to do is to go the record of the patient and start dictating the prescription details to either their phone or computer. Navi then analyzes the commands and fills in the appropriate details into the right section of the prescription. This includes patient complaints, diagnosis, medication regimen, investigations, case notes and finally follow-ups,” says Kunal Kishore Dhawan, CEO & Co-founder Navia LifeCare. This prescription is linked to a reminder system, where drug reminders are automatically set up, based on the parameters set up in the prescription and those are sent to a mobile app in the hands of the patient.

How it can help patients: As Navi’s adoption will increase, more and more doctors would find it comfortable and convenient to shift to electronic/digital prescriptions, reducing the need for paper records. All the patient prescriptions would be made available to them using Navia’s mobile apps. Further, with the automatic set up of reminders, patients would never forget to take their medication, increasing adherence, and overall health outcomes. There would not be cases of medication errors or requirement of pharmacists to read and explain prescriptions as well.

Innovation: One Stop Holistic Wellness Solution

What it is: AyurUniverse is India’s largest, most trusted online wellness platform that promotes Indian wellness systems like Ayurveda and Yoga.

How does it work: The website features over 2500 wellness packages from over 300 verified centers in India and Sri Lanka and include Ayurvedic rejuvenation, de-stress, beauty care as well as various ailment management programs, yoga retreats and Yoga Teacher Training courses. You can search, compare and book all-inclusive packages based on budget, location and neighborhood preference from a personally verified selection of wellness centers.

How it help patients: While there is growing popularity and awareness about Ayurveda and Yoga, there is a large number of people who are keen to choose holistic methods of treatment but do not know where to go when it comes to booking a wellness experience or are simply inundated by the number of wellness centers /resorts out there. “At Ayuruniverse, our effort is to simplify this process with our tech-driven, simple, easy-to-use and reliable, one-stop wellness portal. Our accreditation from the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India is a testament to our commitment towards changing the way people book a wellness holiday,” says Vijay Kumar Karai, CEO & Founder, AyurUniverse.

Innovation: Psychiatric Treatment

What it is: The conventional way of treating psychiatric disorders have only been through medicine or counseling (talk therapy). The antidepressant medications take months to show the first sign of improvement while this innovative approach might take several weeks. Though it is surprising, it is true that we can target and activate the affected part of brain cells using magnetic pulses. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is an innovative and revolutionary way to treat depression and other mental illnesses. TMS treatment has helped even those for whom the antidepressants may or may not have worked.

How does it work: Depression affects neurotransmitter concentration, blood flow and metabolism in a certain region of the brain. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation delivers a magnetic pulse that stimulates nerve cells and activates the regions of the brain that have decreased activity. The part of the brain that’s responsible for depression is identified by the psychiatrist before administering TMS treatment. This non-invasive treatment stimulates nerve cells in the brain that are involved in mood control and depression, which in turn seems to ease depression symptoms and improve mood.

How it can help patients: It can be taken on a daily basis without getting admitted to a mental health facility. “It has no systemic side effects, proven higher remission, let’s you resume your routine almost immediately and is a simple and easy process. It is a non-invasive and painless (a mild sensation in the treatment area during the few initial sessions) treatment approach,” says Dr. Jateen Ukrani, Senior Psychiatrist, National President, Association of DNB Doctors.

Innovation: Assistive communication device

What it is: VOIS is developed by Sonant Technologies. “This is our first product for speech and hearing-impaired people, based on our patent pending technology, which aids in both, hearing as well as speaking, and also notifies “essential alerts” from the surroundings,” says Abhinav Vashistha, Co-founder, Sonant Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

How does it work: VOIS is a cohesive product comprising a pair of gloves that has several touch-sensitive spots on fingers, and a smart wrist-band with a touch-display and speaker. By simply touching a few spots on the glove, the sensors activate an automated audible voice. It also converts voice into text and shows that on the display of the wrist band, so that the user can understand what someone else is speaking. Also, whenever any urgent or critical noise occurs in the surrounding, like a door bell ringing or an automobile honking, the smart wristband vibrates and notifies the user.

How it can help patients: Hearing and speech impaired people will finally be able to speak with regular people using VOIS. This will help them to express themselves, get proper education and job opportunities. An affordable price point and support for almost all popular languages will make it truly accessible for millions of speech and hearing impaired people to engage with the rest of the world. When they use VOIS, their language comprehension proficiency increases rapidly, which will help them become a part of the regular workforce and get better employment opportunities, this time, not out of mere sympathy, but out of deserving merit.

NadiPulse Prognostics - 6
NadiPulse Prognostics – 6

Innovation: Prosthetics for amputees

What it is: Social Hardware is currently working on a designing a low cost, fully-functioning, life-like prosthetics for amputees from low-income and rural communities. The aim of our innovation is to create artificial hands to the same standards as the leading prosthesis brands from Europe and North America while using the internationally recognized Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) evaluation criteria as a measure of success.

How does it work: The company has produced a silicone rubber looks-like prototype and several iterations of its 3D printed works-like prototype using Autodesk Fusion 360® 3D CAD software. The hands are constructed from a highly-flexible antimicrobial material, which can be safely washed using soapy water. This material also has the added benefits of being user-repairable and heat resistant up to 300°C, which is ideal for those who prefer to cook using a traditional open fire. “The artificial hand is user-repairable using low-cost sil-poxy silicone adhesives. We have also ensured the widespread compatibility of our device with existing socket systems to support disability rehabilitation centres with fewer qualified technicians,” says Abhit Kumar & Cameron Norris, Co-founders, Social Hardware International Pvt. Ltd.

How it can help patients: This structured two-step rehabilitation program is designed to ensure that upper limb amputees have the required muscle strength and coordination to effectively utilize the prosthetic hands before receiving them. The program is expected to take 60-days and amputees that successfully complete the program will be fitted with Social Hardware’s prosthetic hand, free of charge. Participants that successfully complete the rehabilitation program will be fitted with the prosthetic hand for free.

Innovation: Cardiac Care Solution

What it is: Portable Appliance for Correct ECG (PACE) is a credit card sized, affordable, smartphone-enabled, 12-channel ECG device. This handheld tele-ECG device is an indigenous design that shows immense potential in replacing conventional ECG, especially for screening purposes in the remote areas through tele-medicine.

How does it work: PACE is powered by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities that would be able to offer suggestive diagnosis and enable patients to move towards preventive care. It can take a 12-point electrocardiogram (ECG) from a patient, transfer it onto a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth, and from there it can generate a report in PDF or JPG formats which can be sent via the internet to the doctor for evaluation.

How it can help patients: PACE can pave way for us to build a tele-communication link between the primary health centre and tertiary hospitals to effectively provide telemedicine services related to cardiac problem in patients in rural India. “It has the potential to replace conventional ECG, especially for screening purposes in the remote areas. Such an innovation can empower the health providers, paramedics and nurses with diagnostic tools that can provide reach from door-to-door. Cardiac patients will be able to save a lot of time and trouble in getting ECG report,” says Keshav Daga, Co-founder, Techno Surge Industries LLP.

Innovation: Brain Haemorrhage Detector

What it is: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is the leading cause of disability in the world and is often detected at a very late stage by when the brain is already damaged. To overcome this, Bioscan Research has developed Cerebo, a fast, portable and non-invasive brain haemorrhage detector that can detect an intracranial bleed within 2 minutes.

How does it work: It works in three simple steps. Power the device, select the location which needs to be scanned and place the device in contact with head. Press ‘Report’ and the result is displayed on the screen.

How it can help patients: India is the head injury capital of the world. There are three people either dying or becoming disabled every year due to TBI. “If we will diagnose the injury in just 10% of these people, we would be saving 18 lives per hour. Most of these people are in their most productive age and many a times, sole bread-earner of the family. Assuming a four-person dependency, the device would impact livelihood of more than 72 people per hour,” says Shilpa Malik, Founder, Bioscan Research Pvt. Ltd.

Innovation: Ayurvedic Health Check

What it is: In Ayurveda, there are three basic types of energy or doshas – Vatta, Pitta and Kapha. Their balance reflects the complete physical and mental health of a person and is reflected by a pulse pattern of the radial artery on the wrist. NadiPulse Prognostics has built a device that diagnoses the pulse pattern of a person and tells you the status of your health. This device would be helpful not only to diagnose a disease but can also pre-diagnose it before it starts to show its first physical pattern. “This innovation is not only a non-invasive diagnosis of the full body and mind, but also suggests your food, lifestyle and Yoga to normalize any negative indication in pulse. We are developing two variants of technologies, one is for clinical purposes and the other is a health-tracking fitness band,” says Kajal Shrivastava, Founder, NadiPulse Prognostics Pvt. Ltd.

How does it work: The fitness band version comes with a wristband-like device along with a mobile app. The pulse-pattern from the wrist is collected and is sent to mobile app via Bluetooth. The status of his health appears on the mobile, along with suggestions in terms of food lifestyle and yoga.

How it can help patients: This kind of pre and during diagnoses through the device helps the user to improve his overall health but allows him to keep a track of his health in critical conditions, like pregnancy, old age, infancy or sickness.

This story first appeared in Smartlife Dec 2018 issue here:

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