Armed with apps and accessories, health tech start-ups seek to revolutionize the way India sees healthcare

The concept of health is changing. Comfort, convenience and trust have become central to healthcare today with several segments of the population willing to shell out exorbitant sums for the same. Technology has, to a large extent, served as a bridge to this idea as healthcare becomes more patient-centric than ever before.

Today, we have access to easy-to-use and accessible wearables and mobile apps, driven by technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented reality and built by innovation-hungry start-ups, part of web-based systems. They enable patients and their caregivers to make informed decisions regarding the prevention, maintenance, management and treatment of disease. While some digital devices and apps alert patients to the progress of their critical conditions and enable prompt intervention by medical professionals, some even offer the convenience of privacy to women during medical investigations.

From tackling the physical challenges of the elderly and visually impaired to helping people navigate their way through disorders like dyslexia and epilepsy, mental health issues and even everyday stress , there are start-ups that create devices and applications that improve the quality of life of patients. life and care.

Over the past few years, more than 3,500 health tech startups have sprung up in the Indian landscape and the segment is only heating up. In 2021, the health tech sector secured $2.2 billion in funding across 131 deals, a number expected to reach $21.3 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of 27%, according to the publication. Inc42. As a 2020 FICCI-BCG report notes: “Health tracking devices and electronic health records combined with AI and machine learning (ML) technologies will not only pave the way for effective disease management chronic conditions, but will also lead to the emergence of effective clinical decision support. systems”.

Here’s what some of the startups in the space are doing:

Coping with dyslexia

According to estimates by the International Dyslexia Association, approximately 700 million children and adults worldwide are affected by dyslexia. One startup working in this space is Oswald Labs.

Based in New Delhi and Enschede in the Netherlands, self-funded Oswald Labs works to make technology accessible by providing user-friendly reading solutions for children with dyslexia. Founders Anand Chowdhary and Mahendra Singh Raghuwanshi and Chief Technology Officer Nishant Gadihoke have developed several products for dyslexics inspired by the accolades they earned for developing a prototype web-reading tool at a weekend hackathon. -end.

“I realized that I could make a difference in the lives of this section of neglected children until now. We worked on the development of our Augmenta11y app, which uses augmented reality to facilitate learning from textbooks and other materials for children with dyslexia,” says Chowdhary. An internal study by the startup found that dyslexic students’ reading time using the Oswald Labs solution was reduced by 20%, he said, adding that the results were even shared at the Conference. 2019 International Conference on Computer Communication and IT.

Besides Augmenta11y, Oswald Labs has also developed several complementary products. Valmiki, for example, is a browser extension that offers typography features and color contrast ratio. The start-up also came up with Agastya, which enables web developers to make websites disability-friendly by incorporating accessibility functionality, and the Shravan app which, with its voice and vibration interface, is useful for the visually impaired. , the illiterate and the elderly.

Alert and attentive about epilepsy

Rajlakshmi Borthakur, founder and CEO of TerraBlue XT, was inspired by her son’s battle with epilepsy to work on a disorder that affects 50 million people worldwide. TerraBlue XT then developed TJay, an anti-epilepsy glove – the company’s flagship product – which is a patent-pending Internet of Things solution to effectively treat epilepsy.

It includes a wearable device and a machine learning/artificial intelligence-based software solution that the company says can generate alerts about the onset of seizures to help those affected stay safe and ask immediate help to better manage their condition. The device tracks the body’s electrical signals throughout the day, including during working and sleeping hours, harvests real-time data and transmits it to a data gateway called Poketee which then sends it to a system cloud-based to retrieve them during the intervention. It generates authentic information allowing physicians to recommend appropriate treatment and is particularly useful in enabling data-driven early intervention by healthcare professionals.

The company has also developed other epilepsy-independent wearables. One of his devices, Xaant, is a ring that can be used during meditation or mindfulness activities at home or even while commuting to monitor indicators such as breathing pattern, heart rate and temperature. The corresponding data can then help provide insight into the person’s mental health, flag underlying stress, and suggest follow-up actions. Xaant uses advanced sensors, processors and algorithms to collect and process body data and make it accessible in the Xaant mobile app. Sleep patterns can also be tracked with the device.

In terms of funding, TerraBlue XT has received the Biotechnology Ignition Grant from the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council, Idea2PoC Grant from the Government of Karnataka and is supported by the Center for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) at IIM-Ahmedabad, among others. Borthakur says the company, which has already patented some of its technology, is now partnering with companies to commercialize the manufacture of their products.

Breaking the Scourge of Breast Cancer Screening

More than 2 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer and 6.85,000 died from the disease in 2020, making it the most common cancer, the World Health Organization has found. That said, it has also been observed that the death rate can be checked with early diagnosis

For breast cancer detection, the wearable device from Bengaluru-based start-up NIRAMAI (non-invasive risk assessment with machine learning and artificial intelligence) records high-resolution heat maps instead of X-rays as is the case in conventional mammography. The procedure is contactless, radiationless, and painless, and can be performed even in the privacy of patients’ homes. It is particularly useful for women from high-risk families and breast cancer survivors who are regularly monitored.

The start-up has collaborated with around 30 hospitals and diagnostic centers across the country to promote the use of the device which has so far screened more than 30,000 women. The Drug Controller General of India has already given regulatory clearance to the NIRAMAI screening and diagnostic test. In addition to this, 10 US patents have been granted to NIRAMAI’s innovative solution.

NIRAMAI claims that its accurate and reliable results for early indicators have been validated by scientific studies published in scientific journals like the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Journal of Global Oncology. Its advisory board includes business leaders like Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, president and CEO of Biocon.

Make remote monitoring accessible

In an effort to acquaint people with the idea of ​​remote monitoring, Bengaluru-based Dozee has developed devices that can be slipped under the bed – in hospital wards as well as at home – and offer the convenience of ‘a non-contact, around the clock remote monitoring of patients. It is particularly useful in postoperative home care, chronic disorder management, geriatrics and telemedicine cases, as it monitors indicators such as blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate.

Mudit Dandwate, CEO and co-founder of Dozee, says, “Our early warning system uses artificial intelligence algorithms to monitor trends in a patient’s vital signs, triggering alerts when deterioration occurs for medical intervention. fast. It serves the purpose of degressive intensive care units and high dependency units, thus reducing the cost of care. The device has also helped free up intensive care beds during Covid-19.

In addition, its integration into electronic health record systems improves the quality of nursing care and optimizes the deployment of resources. Dandwate claims that the deployment of its system improves nursing efficiency by 80%, adding that its products are already deployed for 6,500 beds in 300 hospitals in 40 districts nationwide. The startup has so far raised $16.5 million from investors including Prime Venture Partners, 3one4 Capital, YourNest and, most recently, DoorDash’s Gokul Rajaram.

Some of these start-ups are already setting the bar high for their counterparts. Earlier this year, NIRAMAI was on the list of winners of the Global Women’s HealthTech Awards from the World Bank Group and the Consumer Technology Association. Anand Chowdhary and Nishant Gadihoke of Oswald Labs were listed in the “Social Entrepreneurs” category of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia in 2018. NITI Aayog and the United Nations. It was also facilitated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the same year.

While the digitalization of healthcare in India has already started with the impetus given by government programs such as Make in India, Startup India and Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, budding start-ups in the space will only make it more robust.

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