Did you know that almost 26 million babies are born in India every year. That’s like adding a new Venezuela to our population every year. As most of the population is based in the rural areas, almost 60-70 % of these babies and their mothers would not have access to proper care before birth. This includes the ultra sound scans that those of us in the urban areas consider apart of the pregnancy monitoring healthcare system.
These ultra sound scans are important as they help monitor the condition of the baby and the mother. They also help identify birth defects in advance. For example a cerebral translucency in the head region of the baby while spotted on the scan could be an early indication of Downs syndrome in the baby. Similarly many things can be detected with the right equipment that millions of Indians don’t have regular access to. Even in the urban areas many people from the lower strata of the society have to depend on the over burdened government machinery causing inconvenience to the baby and the mother.
Around 300,000 to 7,50,000 babies are born in India with fetal anomalies and these could have been screened and detected at an early stage. To solve these problems of portability and help improve the mother and child conditions in India, Philips healthcare developed a portable Ultra Sound device called VISIQ, with scientists and doctors from the Philips Innovation center in India.
The Ultra Sound unit is a hand held unit and about `12 inches in length, and can there fore easily fit into the pocket. It is connected to a tablet which is loaded with the software to create a HD resolution scans once the health worker runs the device over the stomach of the pregnant lady.
The device is very intelligent and takes a few seconds to make all the measurements. The HD images can then be stored in the device and shared with the physician once the device is synced with an internet connection. In addition to this the device and the tablet can run the entire day without charge, though it would require to be charged at the end of the day.
Now though the device has its advantages there are two observations to the contrary as well
1) The device starts at Rs 10,00,000 and looks a tad bit expensive considering the target market of rural India and focusing the efforts on making the device widely accessible in the hinterland. I think the efforts have to be still made to make the ultra sound much cheaper.
2) The device is at least 3 years behind the one launched by GE healthcare.
Despite these not to good factors, I still feel this is a remarkable achievement from Philips to use its innovation center in India to bring a new product in the market which indeed would expand the market and make the situation of mother and child care a better one in India.