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Technology Intervention in Healthcare: Are We Adding “REAL” Value???

Below is a guest post by Healthcare Expert Yatindra Jha

Every Single Day I am discovering startups that are working in the healthcare domain with some or other technological intervention. Whether it is in e-pharmacy, online doctor consultation, doctor discovery platform, online diagnostics booking facility, SaaS for channel partners like pharmacy, laboratories, etc.

One thing which is very evident from the evolution of many healthcare ‘Real’ brand names that we hear is that gestation period seems to be quite long compared to other industries because of the nature of consumer i.e. patient him/herself as well as the end result which is the good quality of life.

Interestingly many startups are getting added into the pool of B2C vertical; just to realize at a certain point of time that way forward must be B2B and not B2C. This leads me to think that why scaling a healthcare model in our country is difficult???

As per my opinion reasons can be different like:

  1. “Trust” between the patient and service provider
  2. High CAC
  3. Increasing Competition
  4. Less Value Addition for the patient
  5. Identifying the right ‘consumer’ / ‘payer’

In the last few years; I have observed that many pharma companies have also started building solutions around patient education, adherence, etc. which previously used to be in conjunction with many companies engaged with HCP communities.

Not to forget there are a bunch of startups doing wonderful work in the space of medical devices as well. But again the question is the same; what should be your go-to-market strategy?

Also, a very important factor is the domain expertise available to the leader at the top because if we see healthcare then the dynamics around it are different from normal consumer startups.

When it’s about startup everything seems to be incomplete without valuation, funding which is available to the companies in the industry and if I see recent fund flow in the healthcare then it is evident that capital is available to second-time entrepreneurs. So, does this mean that first time entrepreneurs should be restricted to being bootstrapped only?

I have written this short article to learn from the experts out here about the way forward for many aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to try their luck in the healthcare…

By Yatindra Jha

Categories
Healthcare Technology

SMART MATERNITY WEAR TO PROTECT FROM “DIGITAL” RADIATION

The exponential growth of Mobile phones and IoT devices has led to a whole new industry that supports numerous applications ranging from consumer to healthcare to industrial and many more. Despite its usefulness, there are problems that need to be considered.

In November 2018, an FDA nominated study under National Toxicology Program concluded on the hazards of high Radio Frequency exposure (Non-ionising Radiation) from Cell Phones.

The conclusions were :

  • Clear evidence of tumors in the hearts of male rats. The tumors were malignant schwannomas.
  • Some evidence of tumors in the brains of male rats. The tumors were malignant gliomas.
  • Some evidence of tumors in the adrenal glands of male rats. The tumors were benign, malignant, or complex combined pheochromocytoma.

It is generally believed that the FCC has set limits on cell phone radiation and if any devices exceed the limits, it will not reach the market. However, the NTP study showed that harmful effects can be seen even at levels below the SAR limits set by FCC. This is because, the SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) requires the devices being tested at a short distance away from the human dummies and not in contact with human body, which is how people use the phones and keep the phones in their pockets.

A wide variety of scientists, clinicians, and national medical associations have raised significant visibility towards this issue, ranging from European Scientists calling for a moratorium on 5G rollouts, until the effects are better understood, to asking for further scientific information from FCC and FDA chairpersons on the radiation hazards.

Whilst this complex problem gets resolved by future scientific studies and regulatory mechanisms, there could be an extremely simple alternative solution.

DFF with technology from AiQ Smart Clothing, has developed an innovative RF shielding fabric, leveraging its leadership position in the conductive textiles industry. The fabric blends very fine stainless steel fiber (typically about 10 micron in width) with a variety of commercially available yarn using special purpose machines to produce what looks, feels and behaves like regular textiles. It can blend all types of textiles, build different structures and yarn counts just like regular textile. The clothing or other textile form factors such as curtains etc built out of this RF shielding fabric are also machine washable just like any other clothes.

It is capable of blocking upto 99.99% of a 30 dB signal at 2.4 Ghz, making it ideal to create a wall of protection around places on the body which typically host the mobile phones. For pregnant women and small children, one could create complete clothing using the shielding fabric. 

By

Dr. Mohan Kumar R, Co-Founder , Digital Fashion Factory™ and Satya Bhavaraju, VP, Biz Development, AiQ Smart Clothing

                                                                    

                                         

Categories
Healthcare Technology Public Health

Is India taking care of its senior citizens

Last week I was at Hyderabad for a conference where the focus was on the elderly. India has roughly 120-130 million citizens above the age of 60, and this number is going to rise further due to better healthcare facilities and greater awareness of health. I also got a chance to visit my aunt, who had just recovered from fluid in the lungs. The whole visit to Hyderabad was an eye-opener for elderly care. I think we have a serious challenge in this space and currently, we have more questions than answers.

During the conference, I spent some time connecting with other healthcare professionals like Varma from Intel Health Innovation Group and Vikas Bhalla from Philips. I also had the opportunity to lead a panel discussion on how technology is helping increase access for senior citizens.

In the panel with me were, Dr. Mahesh Joshi, CEO Apollo Homecare, Vikas Bhalla – Director (Ultrasound,) Philips India and Rajagopal G – Founder CEO, KITES Senior Care. Raj and Dr. Joshi have worked extensively in senior care, both at the hospital level and services. The crux of the discussion was the breakdown of the family system that has led to a serious problem, with regards to caring for the elderly. This is more of a social problem. But it gets compounded by the fact that there is no one to care for the elderly. No one to care includes no one to monitor if they have taken their medicines on time or if they are keeping up their doctor’s appointment.

Also, we just don’t have the right number of qualified people to care for the elderly. Medical and Nursing schools are producing professionals who mostly cater to emergency cases and those that need chronic conditions. We are grossly under-equipped to take care of the physical and mental wellbeing.

To add to this we just don’t have the process in place to take into account, continuous monitoring using wearable devices. Also, there is no structure to incorporate that data into the health data to make the right decisions.

While there are many questions there have been some efforts in this space. A leading hospital in Bangalore is working on a model for remote patient monitoring of senior citizens at an old age home.

Gurgaon based Suvida is another venture in this direction where the Suvida Care Manager accompanies the elderly care recipient to the medical facility, takes detailed notes, including a personalized Visit Summary, and accompanies the care recipient back home, Suvida to become the first end-to-end medical coordination company, with a built-in unified user-first EMR (electronic medical record) system, so users don’t have to depend on individual medical facilities for their records.

While these are all steps in the right direction, the scale is clearly not enough to meet the demands of the nation. So the question to you is, is India really taking care of its senior citizens?

Categories
Public Health

Now an easier way of avoiding UTI for Women

One in two women in India have been or will be affected by UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) in their lifetime. One of the main reasons for this are unhygienic public toilets in India. As it is easier for the bacteria to reach the bladder in women, UTI affects women more than men.

In men with enlarged prostate glands and those affected by diabetes, UTI has been observed as well. Symptoms of UTI range from burning sensation in the lower part of the bladder and specifically while passing urine. It also manifests itself as pain, swelling, and fever. While mostly transient, UTI can spread and cause infection in the kidneys. That makes it a serious condition especially in the case of senior citizens.

A lot of emphasis in the management of UTI goes with prevention including awareness about cleanliness in public restrooms and overall sense of hygiene. Also exercise and drinking enough water can result in lowering the chances of contracting UTI.

Medically UTI is managed with Anti Biotics, with both broad-spectrum and narrow-spectrum antibiotics used to treat the condition. Cephalosporins and Quinolones are the medicines that are the treatment of choice. But the ultimate defense against UTI is prevention. While public campaigns like Swacch Bharat are taking shape the improve the public health and sanitation, these have been concerted efforts from the private sector to raise awareness and reduce instances of infection.

Bangalore based startup Pee Easy is one of the players that has recently launched a product to help women and men to overcome the challenges of UTI. They have used food grade paper to create a contraption that can help women and men to pass urine standing up. This would really help reduce the chances of infection. Pee Easy has been set up with vending machines across malls, hospitals and airports and also available at pharmacies.

Such devices are also useful in medical departments like gynecology, orthopedics, urology, oncology and HIV, pathology (for easier collection of a urine sample (under testing)), and post-surgery. In addition to women, senior citizens can really help in reduction of infections.

Categories
Public Health

The real cost of obesity in India

India has always been a land of plenty. Historically it was a land that controlled almost 25-30% of global GDP. It is no surprise then that ancient texts write about obesity in uncertain terms. As a matter of fact practices like Yoga developed in India as a holistic system for physical and mental wellbeing.

During the colonial rule India suffered and so did the health of its citizens. Obesity was replaced with starvation. The Bengal famine during 1943 was the epitome of what all was wrong with the colonial rule and administration. The situation continued after independence, the PDS and rationing system ensured that food was available but in limits.

But 1991 changed all that. With global liberalisation India was an active market to many of the food companies. Nestle, Unilever, General Mills, among others introduced many of their global successes in the country. The net result combined with the growing purchasing power of the middle class has resulted in an epidemic that affects 5% of the population today. It also lays the foundation for systemic conditions like Diabetes and circulatory conditions like cardiovascular diseases.

According to reports from the Indian Heart Association India carries almost 60 % of the cardiovascular disease burden of the world. In terms of obesity again India sees more instances of abdominal obesity. During research on 22 different SNPs near to MC4-R gene, scientists have identified an SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) named rs12970134 to be mostly associated with waist circumference. In this study, more than two thousand individuals of Indian origin participated and the aforementioned SNP is highly prevalent in this group. Also, obesity seems to affect women more than men in India. According to research done by CADI Research, Obesity among women seems to go higher with increasing BMI.

So what’s the real economic cost of obesity?

  1. For starters, I think it is not necessary for people to spend to consume more if they are already obese. Consumption of food should be “means to an end” and not the other way around.
  2. Obesity forms the basis of the other two lifestyle diseases killing India- Hypertension, and Diabetes. Just last week a very serious colleague from my office had a stroke, his condition was exasperated due to diabetes and obesity.
  3. Studies in India estimate that, for a low-income Indian family with an adult with diabetes, as much as 20 percent of family income may be devoted to diabetes care. For families with a diabetic child, up to 35 percent of income is spent on diabetes care.
  4. If you have Diabetes for five years you would have spent around Rs 1,50,000 on diabetes treatment only. After 10 years you would have spent Rs 4,00,000 and after 20 years you would have spent Rs 15,00,000. The increase in cost with time is due to the increase in complications.
  5. To add this the direct cost of diabetes is around Rs 1,00,000 which includes the cost of direct consultation with doctors and the numerous tests that have to be performed.
  6. Then there is the opportunity cost. Is it estimated that a loss of Rs 50,000 per annum per individual due to sick leaves?

So essentially we have a interesting situation, where we spend money to consume and then spend again on healthcare services.

So how can we change this around

  1. Get aware of the disease burden. If overweight then start, looking at dedicating 1 hour per day on exercises. Something as simple as walking daily is a good start.
  2. Lose the habits, drinking, smoking, junk food is again adding to the costs.
  3. Get regular tests done, this avoids surprises and helps you plan to cover for the disease burden. At a minimum, you should get HB1ac test done quarterly.
  4. Pick up Yoga, I have been practicing Yoga for the last 5 years and have immensely benefited from the practice

The cost of healthcare is only going to go up. Just remember that steps taken today can reduce the cost tomorrow, whether to act or not is totally upto you.

Sources

  1. https://cadiresearch.org/topic/obesity/global-obesity/obesity-in-india
  2. https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2017/10/health/i-on-india-childhood-obesity/
  3. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/health-news/What-is-the-cost-of-diabetes-care/articleshow/49843288.cms