Bengaluru startup Artelus offers advanced screening tools to enable burdened healthcare professionals to service the increasing patient load with accurate diagnosis and preventative care.
India is infamous as the diabetes capital of the world. Data from World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that 69.2 million of India’s population suffers from diabetes, and patients with diabetic retinopathy (DR) are estimated to be 34.6 percent. DR, one of the key reasons for preventable blindness in diabetic patients, can be treated through early detection with AI, and Artelus is helping India take on the DR challenge with its AI screening tool.
Artelus’ product offers a user-friendly interface that generates patient data by capturing retina image, analyzing the image in less than 15 seconds, and printing results. With over 93 percent accuracy, the AI product can be used for detecting DR in less than three minutes. The solution uses deep learning algorithms, ensuring higher rate of accuracy.
The Artelus (shorter version for Artificial Learning System) journey began in October 2015 when Pradeep Walia, a Carnegie Mellon University alumnus with over 20 years of experience in the IT industry as an entrepreneur, decided to marry AI with healthcare.
Pradeep has founded several startups in India and the US. In 2000, one of his companies, with over 24 patents on AI technology was witnessing slow growth due to dwindling economy in the US after 9/11. However, he was determined to restart the company in India using advanced computing technologies.
Today, he, along with Lalit Pant and Rajarajeshwari, the Co-founders of Artelus, are working towards achieving the brand’s vision – make the world healthier and happier using AI. Pradeep knew Lalit since 1998, the duo had previously worked together for an AI company while the former met Rajarajeshwari in 2014, en route to finding the right talent for his previous startup.
“We are taking the healthcare experience beyond the boundaries of hospitals and specialised clinics, and augmenting doctors with our artificially assisted technology,” Pradeep says.
Spotlight on the forgotten billion
Artelus wants to reach out and help the forgotten billion, the billion or more people who lack basic health care and associated services. There is a lack of primary screening services around the world. In developing countries, rural areas lack infrastructure, facilities and trained personnel to provide necessary health services and Artelus plans to bring primary screening to the forgotten billion.
“Global screening for diseases that can be tackled with early detection is not possible without the help of AI, but it is now possible with the help of our AI product, which helps reduce costs and improve people’s health,” Pradeep says.
And the healthtech startup isn’t only focusing on diabetes.
With a seven-member R&D team, Artelus is constantly looking to innovate, and developing newer and more accurate primary screening tools for early detection of TB, breast cancer and lung cancer.
Artelus recently entered the market and is waiting to generate its revenue for the first quarter. The startup is bootstrapped and angel funded as of now, and plans to raise funds soon.
How AI is disrupting the healthcare space
A recent study, Global Burden of Diseases 2015, published in a leading medical journal, The Lancet, highlights that India’s healthcare access and quality performance index is below Bangladesh and that India continues to be a poor performer in terms of access to healthcare. The study further says India failed in achieving healthcare goals all these years and it is the biggest under-achiever in Asia after Pakistan when it comes to healthcare access.
Considering India’s consistent poor performance in healthcare along with one of the lowest doctor-to patient ratios in the world, can we expect India’s healthcare sector to undergo disruption? The answer is hidden in technology.
Experts feel AI is the future of healthcare. The massive physician-patient gap will take over 300 years to fill and AI, with its ability to process data in lightning speed, is likely to revamp India’s healthcare sector.
Today, several healthcare startups are leveraging the power of AI to disrupt the healthcare space including SigTuple, Aindra, Niramai Health Analytix, Advenio Technosys among others.
Artelus leverages cutting-edge technologies like Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence to increase the capacity of healthcare providers, enabling them to offer higher quality care without over burdening the system.
Rajarajeshwari says: “Specialists, being fewer in number, would and should focus on treatment rather than examination. With the current computing power and technological advancements, AI solutions are the only way out to bridge inequities in health care.”