Coronavirus: This startup is solving cardiac arrest woes with a matchbox-sized ECG monitor
Rajat Jain (25) lost a close friend to cardiac arrest four years ago. Feeling completely helpless, Rajat says it was very difficult for him to come to terms with the loss of his friend. The unsettling feeling made him realise that preliminary cardiac monitoring is mostly not available at primary healthcare facilities in many parts of India. Even some emergency rooms do not have it. Rajat, an engineering graduate, decided to do something about it.
“According to WHO, 17.9 million people die each year from cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), an estimated 31 percent of all deaths worldwide. It happens because of non-availability of monitoring equipment, no routine monitoring, lack of routine heart check-ups, and no early diagnosis. When we talk about remote areas or hilly regions, the condition is even worse. There is no ECG facility available in such places. Patients have to travel at least 20 to 30 km to reach the primary healthcare facilities, and by the time they reach the hospital, they either collapse or suffer complications during the treatment,” says Rajat Jain, Co-Founder of Dehradun-based Sunfox Technologies, the parent company of Spandan ECG.
Rajat roped in his elder brother Arpit Jain as a co-founder and a few friends Nitin Chandola, Saurabh Badola, and Sabit Rawat, and started Sunfox Technologies in 2016 to solve preliminary monitoring issues. Rajat and his team developed Spandan ECG, a matchbox-sized ECG monitor which costs between Rs 6,500 to Rs 8,000.
“The device helps people identify heart abnormalities at an early stage,” says Rajat.
Spandan ECG is a matchbox-sized medical-grade ECG machine which weighs only 12 grams. The brothers claim that Spandan is the smallest, smartest, and the lightest heart monitoring machine that not only detects heart ailments, but also classifies 21 different kinds of heart abnormalities with the accuracy of 99.7 percent in comparison to clinical diagnosis. Rajat explains that Spandan ECG is also equipped with smart algorithms to interpret abnormalities and deliver the results in easy and understandable language for a layman on a smartphone.
“We addressed key issues like portability, affordability, availability of expertise at the need of the hour, and came up with this solution which can be accessed by the frontline health workers with minimal expertise and by patients themselves,” adds Rajat.
Fight against coronavirus
In the time of coronavirus pandemic, Rajat says that heart diseases are one of the key factors in the mortality rate in the high-risk coronavirus patients. “Patients with underlying CVD and SARS - CoV-2 infection have an adverse prognosis. Therefore, particular attention should be given to cardiovascular protection during treatment for coronavirus,” he adds.
Rajat further says that the startup has upgraded the device with offline capabilities, which means that the Spandan users can identify risks and symptoms offline with their previous medical history and a quick in-app questionnaire.
Rajat also says that, recently, Spandan helped his father in a cardiac abnormality episode at midnight in Uttarakhand during this lockdown period.
Besides upgrading the device, the Sunfox team also developed personal protective equipment (PPEs) and is now working on developing a ventilator for Acute Respiratory Disease Syndrome with pressure and volume controls. “Our company is always driven by frugal engineering methods which could be taken into the essential use,” he tells Rajat.
So far, Sunfox is one of the beneficiaries of Startup India and has received seed funding from the state government as well. Rajat says the startup needs external funding to scale and also needs collaborations with e-health, telemedicine platforms, and others for go-to-market strategies.
Sunfox works with several non-profit organisations (NGOs) to provide the device in rural and tribal areas in India. Rajat boasts that with the help of Spandan ECG, the Uttarakhand-based startup has screened more than 10,000 patients and has saved about 140 lives owing to early detection.
Edited by Javed Gaihlot