Below are a few examples that show, although at a lower scale, how digital technology started making healthcare of 135 crores people handy, cheaper and accessible. This details appeared in TOI on 27.5.2018, in an article, titled ‘ India’s got the innovations, now just scale ’em up’ by my favourite economist Swaminathan S Ankleswaria Aiyar, who is the brother of Manishankar Aiyer, another eminent man. He can write on intricate economic and social issues, in a simple literary language. Just read it–
…… UE LifeSciences has developed a hand-held device for early detection of breast cancer, at Rs 65 per scan. Any community health worker can operate it. Expensive mammography and radiation are eliminated. Almost 200 million women aged 35-55 are at risk, and this device can save their lives. The company has earned a million dollars in revenue, got new orders worth $2 million, and tied up with GE Healthcare to market the product across 25 African countries.
Heart disease is the biggest killer. ECG machines help detect the problem. Entrepreneur Rahul Rastogi has created a matchbox-sized ECG machine providing heart reports at just Rs 5 each. Called the Sanket ECG, it connects to any smartphone wirelessly. Its ECG report can be shared instantly with a distant doctor via email, Bluetooth or a message. It can be operated by any rural community health worker. The Tata Trusts have deployed 45 such devices in remote areas of Tripura, where regular ECG screening is impossible.
India has the most blind people in the world, but 80% of blindness is avoidable or curable through early detection. Forus Health has invented an eye-screening device called 3nethra, costing one-fifth of a conventional device, requiring minimally trained operators. It pre-screens five problems — cataract, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, corneal defects, and refractive errors. Already 1,700 devices have been installed across 26 countries, touching 2 million lives.
Dengue’s incidence has risen 30-fold in the last half-century. At the Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Dr Navin Khanna has developed a test-kit detecting dengue within minutes on day one of the fever. It distinguishes between primary and secondary infections, vital for disease management. It costs barely Rs 140 per test. Initially it faced huge resistance from health providers. In 2013, dengue swept across India. Health providers who initially opposed the test-kit adopted it in desperation when stocks of imported kits ran out. Once used, all stakeholders were delighted……