Much advancement is happening at the cusp of mainstream industries and technology. Technology is no longer just a business enabler, it is becoming integrated in the way business is done. One such area that amalgamates sector-knowhow and technological developments is healthcare technology.
What is Healthcare Technology?
Health technology, popularly known as Medical Technology, or MedTech is defined by the World Health Organisation as the “application of organised knowledge and skills in the form of devices, medicines, vaccines, procedures and systems developed to solve a health problem and improve quality of lives”. It includes a wide range of healthcare products and services which are used to diagnose, monitor or treat diseases or medical conditions. This touches upon medical devices, biotech, and healthcare services.
The Healthcare Technology Sector in India
The medical sector in India has enjoyed much inflow of Foreign Direct Investments leading to a burgeoning of start-ups in the sector. Policy governance has been a key booster to the sector. The Indian government clarified its FDI Policy specifically for the medical devices sector in Jan, 2015. One sector-friendly improvement was the modification of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act; now up to 100% FDI is permitted without government approval in companies that manufacture medical devices under the radar of this act.
Another important factor is the investment in academic and scientific research. Start-ups in the field are focussing on finding low cost, point-of-care innovations that deliver value to businesses and to customers alike. Some of the hotspots of scientific research are Indian Institute of Sciences, National Chemical Laboratory, Indian Institutes of Technology, and LV Prasad Eye Institute etc.
The result is a number of healthcare technology innovations.
A Look at The Key Innovations
Here is a peep into the best health technology innovations 2017.
1) Indigenous Heart Valve
Designed specifically to cater to rheumatic heart disease, the TTK Chitra valve is a high quality replacement for imported heart valves. Not only did this present a cost advantage- USD 1500 versus USD 350, but it offers great durability with an estimated life span more than that of human life. The valve has been implanted in more than 1,00,000 patient.
Neobreath is a foot-operated new-born resuscitation system developed by Windmill Health & SIB in New Delhi. Extremely easy to use, it is a life-saver in remote areas. It has been known to empower frontline health workers and save numerous lives.
3) Mobile Intelligent Remote Cardiac Monitor
Known commonly as the MIRCaM, this device provides a real-time analysis of cardiac situations in ambulatory ECG. This is a great opportunity to provide advanced level of diagnostics in remote and smaller settings, suited for India. The monitoring system is cloud-enabled, and is inbuilt with an automatic workflow to report incidents to a doctor or cardiologist. The device has been designed by Cardiac Design Labs Pvt. Ltd.
4) Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis Device
From the wearables category, this device, commonly called mCAPD developed at IIT Chennai, is connected to a cloud based patient management system. It has the power to transform healthcare for kidney patients by allowing them to undergo CAPD dialysis anytime and anywhere. Patients no longer need to depend on a hospital or clinic to carry out the dialysis process.
5) Cardiac Patch
A product of an association between IIT Chennai and Synkromax Biotech Pvt. Ltd; the SynkroScaf is a cost effective import substitute for bovine pericardial patches. It is used to attain anatomical correction of the deformities in heart and its blood vessels. Its high quality is owing to the fact that it has been produced in accordance with the Good Manufacturing Practice or GMP standards.
6) Hand Cranked Defibrillator
This dual-powered defibrillator is the outcome of four patents. It is best suited for areas where power outages may occur, thanks to its two-fold power supply i.e. it runs on grid electricity as well as a built-in hand cranked generator. The circuitry has been developed in a cost-effective manner such that the cost of the device is nearly one-fourth of the existing devices currently available in market. Developed by Jeevtronics Pvt Ltd, Pune.
7) Qora Stool Management Kit
Developed by Consure Medical, New Delhi, the kit is used to capture and direct stool samples into an odour-proof collection bag. The kit redefines the standards of faecal incontinence management, especially in bed-ridden patients. It helps minimise painful and costly complications arising from the health condition.
8) Neonatal Resuscitation Trolley With Delayed Cord Clamping
Developed together by the Phoenix Medical Systems Pvt Ltd & Madras Medical College, Madras, the device comprises a warmer and a baby-receiving resuscitation platform. It helps receive the baby easily with intact placental circulation i.e. even when the umbilical cord is not yet cut. It also come equipped with neonatal resuscitation.
9) Portable Digital Microscope
This unique microscope called Cilika is a portable digital microscope developed by Med Prime Technologies, SINE and IIT Bombay. It comes with a unique optical system that is designed to have a magnification of 1500x. It is highly connected, complete with a mobile phone or a tablet to display the magnified image. The medical image can thus be easily and quickly captured as a digital image for further processing.
10) Haemostatic Biomedical Products & Devices For Blood Loss Management
Designed to be customised for managing road accident situations, it is basically a highly viscous hydro gel formulation with a set of biocompatible polymers. The product consists of nano porous polymeric scaffolds which enable instant blood clotting. Not only this, it also helps decontaminate the wound or area of blood loss, by carrying out surface-level de-absorption of debris and heavy metals. It has been developed at the Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Allied Sciences, New Delhi.
11) Arsenic Removal Filter
This is a low-cost laterite based filter to remove arsenal particulate matter. Easy to use, it is driven by gravity and generates no side-streams. The device has been developed keeping in mind the rural population needs. It operates on a patented principle of activated laterite-based filter design. It is able to remove traces of arsenic, iron and coliform free safe drinking water at 2 paise / litre.
12) Glucometer And Strips
Suchek is an innovation created by IIT, Mumbai & Biosense, Thane. It is a low-cost glucometer in the form of reagent strips, with the same accuracy as any glucometer. It works in coordination with Suchek mobile application to help the patient and doctor save, trend and analyse blood glucose levels. Individual patient tracking, as well as trending of a community or group’s glucose levels, can be done easily through this technology-enabled glucometer.
13) Personal Kidney Care Kit
Innovated by the Kanpur Test House, this is an instant home test kit to help detect albumin in urine. It thus bring kidney damage detection closer to the patients, especially in rural areas. This will help health practitioners better diagnose and treat kidney-related ailments.
14) Advanced Electro Larynx
This hand-held electro larynx has been developed by IIT Chennai. The device is an electronically operated speech aid to be used after surgical removal of the larynx. It enables the laryngectomee to regain vocal communicability with its electronically enhanced design.
15) Innovative Oxygen Enrichment Technology
An innovative therapy for oxygen enrichment has been curated by Genrich Membranes Pvt. Ltd., Pune. This is a far cry from the ultra-expensive oxygen therapy available commonly. This is because it uses the hollow-fiber membrane technology to provide high quality oxygen in a reliable fashion to patients suffering from lung disease and disorders. The device in itself is very light and user-friendly.
These healthcare technology innovations prove that India has a huge potential for development in the healthcare sector, especially at affordable costs, if they continue to receive support from the government and market. This propensity to think out of the box and invest in extensive research is a must to be able to deal with the healthcare challenges of the future, especially with the rise of lifestyle diseases. Patients too are demanding a highly connected and personalised healthcare experience that drastically improve their quality of life.
Not only must such services and products be made available and accessible, but they must also be made affordable to be able to make a true impact. For this, the government and private sector (established firms and start-ups) must join hands to pre-empt health situations and cater to them proactively. Technologies such as the cloud, mobile, internet of things can be put to profound use to make this a reality, such is the impact of technology in healthcare. Also, deep research in areas that lie at the cusp of medical care and technology is a must. For this, it is important for academia and industry to associate and work towards the larger picture of great healthcare. With this we can expect healthcare technology to change the future of livelihoods.