Doctors have limitations to maintain social distancing since they cannot diagnose a patient without touching. Indian start-ups have found a way out from this challenge that can keep doctors away from the patient to a great extent. Stethoscopes that doctors can use without touching patients; oxygen concentrator that can help hospitals generate in-house oxygen as well as portable and app-controlled IoT (Internet of Things) based ventilator system! Wonderful!
Some Indian start-ups supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) are showing a way that would change the convention of how doctors used to attend patients. DST, through its Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH) initiative scouted, evaluated and supported promising ventilator, respiratory aids and other vital medical equipment from five companies who have now taken their products to deployment stage.
Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), IIT Bombay is the implementation partner for the CAWACH program. Other eight incubation centres from different zones of India and the Indian STEPs and Incubators Association participated in the call for applications, review and the selection process. The supporting Satellite centres are FIIT, IIT Delhi, SIIC, IIT Kanpur, HTIC, IIT Madras, Venture Centre, Pune, IKP Knowledge Park, Hyderabad, KIIT-TBI, Bhubaneswar.
Indian medical devices manufacturers and indigenous automation companies have taken up the pandemic as a challenge and came up with innovative designs of ventilators, portable respiratory aids or devices for contactless diagnosis and monitoring of the patients.
Ayu Devices incubated at SINE, IIT Bombay in 2017 has developed a digital stethoscope that can help doctors listen to heart and lungs sounds while keeping at a safe distance from the patients. The device identifies abnormal sounds and helps diagnose patients. It is designed as a wireless module to enhance the Bluetooth range and help it to be controlled from a distance. While existing digital stethoscopes use smartphone Bluetooth, their device works with an additional Bluetooth module to increase the range and consistency in the data. It is also fitted with filters to remove external noise for clear sound making it usable in Indian clinical settings where there is a lot of background noise in OPDs. This has enabled doctors to listen to chest sounds while covered in PPEs which is not possible with a conventional stethoscope. They are further scaling up the manufacturing to cater to the increasing need and have successfully commercialised the stethoscope for the telemedicine segment.
Ambala-based Walnut Medical has developed a portable oxygen concentrator that helps hospitals generate oxygen in-house. It is an intelligent closed-loop system which monitors oxygen level and gives enough oxygen to the patient. This is the first oxygen concentrator made in India and is fitted with automated oxygen flow technology which will prevent patients suffering from hyperoxia. Walnut Medical will be donating 50 oxygen concentrators to government hospitals before commercially launching the product.
DST’s support helped them push the company’s endeavour forward with 5Ltr and 10Ltr oxygen concentrator models and oximeters as well. Manufacturing of oxygen concentrators requires huge moulds and the support helped them invest in quality moulds to compete against products from Japan, USA and China. IIT Delhi incubation team worked with them to help the technology see the light of the day.
Pune-based Nocca Robotics has developed a ventilator which operates in both invasive and noninvasive, pressure-controlled mode and solar powered with low wattage requirement. It works with medical airlines and oxygen as well as ambient air and oxygen. It is equipped with App-based control and IoT enabled system.
Hyderabad based Aerobiosys Technologies has developed a smart ventilation system. It is portable, cost-effective, IoT-enabled and powered by lithium-ion batteries. Invasive and non-invasive it operates uninterrupted for five hours with a smartphone app to control the device. The system displays a real-time information of the breath pattern and other critical lung parameters. It can attach with an oxygen cylinder and can operate on its own in ambient air.
Pune-based Jeevtronics has developed a device called a defibrillator that restores a normal heartbeat by sending an electric pulse or shock to the heart. It is used to prevent or correct an arrhythmia, a heartbeat that is uneven or that is too slow or too fast. The company has developed a grid and hand-cranked defibrillator, as well a battery-less defibrillator for sudden care from cardiac arrest.