How a road accident made these IT pros create an integrated emergency care platformSindhu Kashyaap
Started in Hyderabad, CallAmbulance is an integrated emergency care platform that goes beyond just calling in an ambulance.
Back in 2013, while on the way to attend a seminar in Warangal, Umashankar Kotturu and his colleague from Infosys Jagadish Babu Vishwanath witnessed a road accident with two victims. One was severely injured; the other was moderately injured but bleeding profusely.
Umashankar and Jagadish were able to take the moderately injured person to a Warangal hospital, but for the other person they had to call a 108 ambulance. But they had great difficulty explaining their location to the ambulance service, as the accident site had no landmarks.
Recalling the incident, Umashankar says,
“All that we could remember was we were about an hour from where we had collected the tollgate receipt. Not just that, we drove for more than 45 minutes to admit this person to a Warangal hospital and we had no idea there was there was a healthcare centre just few minutes away from the incident spot.”
On their way back, they realised how helpless they had felt despite being so qualified and tech savvy. That became the trigger for the duo to think of building a mobile app that should be there in every citizen’s hand. The more they went about investigating, they realized that an entire emergency care platform, which can capture health history, location and communicate with all the stakeholders involved, was the need of the hour.
Building a complete emergency care platform
That is how CallAmbulance was born. As an integrated emergency care platform. The duo had found that road accidents, pregnancy delivery care, infant pediatric care, episode of cardiac arrest, asthma or stroke represent about 80 percent of the emergency care.
According to Umashankar, emergency care is mostly seen as providing an ambulance. But an ambulance alone does not guarantee positive emergency outcomes. When you dig deeper, you realise that there is an opportunity to deliver integrated emergency care that goes beyond providing an ambulance, he says.
CallAmbulance seeks to improve the emergency outcome by integrating the entire ecosystem of emergency care. The platform helps improves the effectiveness of an ambulance reaching the location with the help of GPS and app-based communications.
How does the platform work
“We now have a single interface to integrate 108 and other private ambulances. Work on integrating private players has started too,” adds Umashankar. The platform also has a social network of the first responders who can respond in less than 10 minutes, and stabilise the patient before the ambulance arrives.
This is done in collaboration with various hospitals training targeted sections of public such as registered medical practitioners (RMPs), drivers, security guards, and corporate employees.
Working on collaboration
The CallAmbulance platform can also be used to create a personal blood donor network so that there is a known set of friends and family who can be contacted should the need arise. “Our mobile app will list all the donors by scanning the address book in the phone. This is going to save lives of road accidents victims,” says Umashankar.
Explaining the need for blood donors, Umashankar says that women suffering blood loss post-partum is the most common reason lives are lost. Apart from this, the platform also helps the ambulance take the victim to the right hospital by mapping hospitals according to their specialty.
Lastly, the platform enables collaboration between victim, victim’s care givers, ambulance manager, ambulance driver, doctor-on-duty with a single webpage. For example, the doctor knows the health history, family members’ names for the consent from.
The team also plans to integrate financing emergency care into this solution via Bima Yojana with the Aadhaar platform or private insurance players. However one of the main challenges was creating a use case for mobile technology in healthcare space.
Building the team
Umashankar says that since consumers are not fully ready to accept mobile-based healthcare solutions, adoption was slow to begin with. However, following the demonetisation drive and the availability of cheap mobile data thanks to Reliance Jio, there has been a dramatic upswing in adoption of digital infrastructure in the closing months of 2016. “We think 2017 will the watershed year for digital health,” says Umashankar.
Apart from Umashankar and Jagadish Babu Vishwanatham, who have more than 20 years of experience in the IT field, the team consists of Bhaskar Kandukuri, an ex-Infosys with over 12 years of experience in IT, and Rahul Reddy, who has worked as an IT consultant with US government.
The app was formally launched by the government of Telangana, and Health Minister C. Laxma Reddy.
“In the one year since the launch we have partnered with 60 tertiary care hospitals in Hyderabad. These include majority of tier-1 hospitals like Continental, Yashoda, MaxCure, Sunshine, Omni to name a few,” says Umashankar.
The team has also partnered with Uber to train their drivers in basic life saving skills and certify them as First Responders. They have trained over 500 First Responders in Hyderabad. Every day calls are made to 108 through their app from all over India.
Creating a differentiator
Over the past year, a number of healthtech platforms have come up in avatars such as home healthcare platforms, diagnostic test aggregators, consultations and wellness marketplaces. Most of these are heavily funded like Practo, Lybrate, and Portea. There are also several online pharmacies in the space.
Speaking of CallAmbulance's USP, Umashankar says its solution has been built in such a way that it can scale across the globe and can integrate with a variety of IoT devices for triggering emergency as well as with global public and private emergency systems. The key differentiator is to hide all the enormous complexity of integration from the consumer and make it a seamless experience.
“We are patent protected for emergency triggers and the communication process, which happens during distress. We are the only mobile app that's deeply integrated with 108, the largest ambulance provider in the country,” says Umashankar .
The team has raised an angel funding round and is seeking investments from strategic investors to scale up operations across India. Winner of the Social Impact Award from Hyderabad-based HYSEA, the company was also listed by BioAsia as one of the five startups to watch out for in 2016.
The team intends to categorise all the hospitals and trauma centers in India based on the types of emergencies they are capable of handling and their availability in real time.
CallAmbulance is working to integrate all ambulance providers and grade them by the type of ambulance they operate so that right ambulance can be provided for right emergency.
The team also aims to help every citizen build his or her own personal network of blood donor friends. It also plans to extend the First Responder training programme to include all citizens with the help of corporates, schools, hospitals or road transport authorities, among others.
“Internationally we want to license the technology to all the ambulance providers with the vision to become one consumer facing app in the entire world for emergency care, while hiding all the complexity of Emergency provider integration,” concludes Umashankar.