These 5 startups are monitoring India’s health with AI, machine learning, and smart apps
Whether it’s cancer diagnosis or keeping an eye on the rise of diabetes, or something as simple as digitising medical records for access anytime, anywhere – these healthtech startups are doing it all.Sutrishna Ghosh
From medical tourism to telemedicine, India’s healthcare sector has been expanding at a healthy double-digit rate to include newer and better services powered by new-age technologies. The problem, however, is not availability, but access to these services.
For every 1,000 people, the number of physicians in India stands at 0.7 (less than 1), a metric that places the country way behind the global average of 1.5 physicians per 1,000 people. And then, there are only 0.7 beds per 1,000 people, compared to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation of 3.5.
These findings from the Deloitte and CII’s ‘Medical Technology, Shaping Healthcare For All In India’ report highlight the grim reality of healthcare in the country. But, more importantly, it stresses on the challenges that people across the length and breadth of India – including rural parts and cities other than the Tier I – face when it comes to the access to “quality and affordable” healthcare.
On the flipside, India’s healthcare space is expected to grow at 23 percent CAGR to a $280 billion market by 2020. And with the ‘Digital India’ initiative, the government has been bolstering all efforts towards bridging the gap in healthtech, an area where Indian startups already have a momentum.
On the heels of World Health Day, we take a look at five such startups making healthcare efficient and affordable for us.
With cancer patients, early diagnosis or prognosis of the cancer type could prove to be critical. However, with only 500 pathologists specialising in cancer diagnosis – according to a NITI Aayog report – India faces a backlog, between the number of pathologists available and the number of samples collected. This is where Onward Health comes into play.
Using predictive analytics and machine learning, this healthtech startup is building a portfolio of diagnostic tools in the form of classifiers and analytical tools. These tools help pathologists diagnose more cases every day by providing deeper, more accurate insights from available samples. In addition, Onward Health is leveraging computer vision techniques and ML algorithms to offer tools in computational pathology and mammography.
By 2030, WHO predicts that there will be 100 million people living with diabetes in India. A concerning statistic, only aggravated by the lack of tools and platforms monitoring it.
Yash Sehgal and Gautam Chopra, Co-founders of Delhi-based BeatO, were well-aware of this issue. Prompted by the distressing conditions, they started BeatO in 2015. Since then, their platform has expanded to serve around 50,000 patients across 1,500 cities. The functioning of the app is simple, it comes with a glucometer, which can be plugged in to a smartphone to take reading. The reading is then saved in the app and can be used for further guidance and intervention in case of an emergency.
Medical wearable startup ten3T was born out of a chat around how to build a medical grade device to monitor a patient’s health. The chat soon turned into a potential plan, and biomedical engineers Rahul Shingrani and Prasad Bhat, and physician and entrepreneur Sudhir Borgonha started up in 2014.
The startup makes medical grade wearable devices, and its breakthrough was Cicer, a palm-sized patch sticker with multiple embedded sensors. The IoT technology helps in the early detection and prevention of medical episodes in hospitals, during transport, and even at home.
Healthcare starts with preventive care, which basically includes keeping a check on various health conditions and taking proactive steps to nip diseases in the bud. Mumbai-based AADAR is one such venture operating in the “Ayurveda-inspired” preventive healthcare space. Founded by IIT-B alumnus Aadil Shah, who had earlier started edtech venture Manch, AADAR offers herb-based products to curb lifestyle ailments like protein deficiencies, blood sugar, indigestion, cholesterol, and obesity.
AADAR plans to expand into the space of menstrual wellness, skincare products, and health supplements.
“Overall, Indians spend about $7 billion treating these conditions and are on track to spend $12 billion by 2023. We are targeting these consumers in the 25-45 age group through digital channels,” Aadil told YourStory.
Just disrupting the sector of healthcare services is not enough. Especially with technology taking a lead in every front, it was just a matter of time before someone turned their attention to medical records and record-keeping.
This brings us to DRiefcase, an idea hatched from the brains of IIM-B alumni Sohit Kapoor and Harsh Parikh. Founded in May 2016, DRiefcase has one simple objective - to digitise personal health records of a person and provide users with a single-point, easy-to-use access to medical data. All this at the tap of the screen.