The increasing use of Artificial intelligence, Big Data and IoT devices are changing the pattern of the healthcare business. Neha Rastogi, co-founder and COO of Agatsa, in an email interview with Zee Business online, talked about various aspects of healthcare business and innovations in this space.
Do you think Budget 2019 was successful in addressing problems faced by startups?
The Budget did address some major areas including simplification of tax compliances and income tax scrutiny. Further, the provision of expanding PMKY by including cutting-edge skills like AI, analytics and 3D printing, etc. are welcome steps. These will not only enhance skill levels among the start-up workforce, but also empower them to become more competent on a global level. Agatsa is also a tech-enabled company and our devices are based on these modern technologies. Hence, there is definitely some promise in the budget for us.
What are the measures needed to provide affordable health care services?
Access to affordable healthcare is something that needs to be addressed urgently in India. First and foremost, we must emphasise on providing universal healthcare services by increasing the budgetary allocation as a percentage of GDP. The establishment of the National Research Foundation is a positive step, but adequate emphasis must also be given on domestic medical device manufacturers and cutting-edge healthcare innovators. The governmental support for domestic innovators like us would bring down the dependency on imported healthcare equipment and also make the services more affordable for the masses.
Support must be given in the form of easy credit flow, promotion of universal health insurance, and towards addressing the lack of tax incentives for hospitals and private healthcare providers keen to increase capacity in existing facilities as well as setting up new ones. The government must also put in place a dedicated infrastructure and innovation fund. The Indian healthcare system is battling a shortage of resources and infrastructure and such steps are the need of the hour.
Tell us about what you do at Agatsa? What are your USPs?
Driven by the gaps in early identification of cardiac issues and affordable and accessible cardiac care in India, Agatsa has focused on creating its first range of products to address the critical area of cardiac disease diagnosis and management.
Using our combined technological expertise in mobile and healthcare devices, we have created a solution that is ideal for preventive cardiac care — portable, affordable, and easy-to-use ECG devices. Our first product was SanketLife 2.0 – the world’s first and smallest 12- LEAD device that is small enough to fit into a car Key chain. Despite the portability and ease of usage, the cutting-edge technology used in SanketLife 2.0 captures complete medical-grade, high quality 12 LEAD ECG data and HRV on the go. SanketLife 2.0 is a complete leadless ECG solution, hence anyone can take ECG anytime and anywhere without the need of sticking electrodes to the body and leads attached to it.
In the year 2018, we came up with SanketLife Pro+, a hybrid of Leadless and Lead-based medical grade 12-LEAD ECG primarily for those medical practitioners who can take the single lead, 6 lead and 12 lead ECGs with or with leads. The leads are especially helpful for patients who are unconscious or very old patients who cannot hold the leadless device stably.
The SanketLife devices simplify the process by letting an individual or a doctor, quickly and accurately measure the ECG at home or clinic by a sensor-based digital device and optionally connect with a doctor and get a doctor-verified analysis within 10 minutes. These devices are clinically proven to have more than 98% accuracy compared to traditional ECG devices and are user friendly. The ECG readings generated are digitally shared via Android or iOS platforms in real-time.
How technology is changing healthcare space?
Artificial intelligence, Big Data and IoT devices have touched every domain in the world and it is gradually now making its presence felt in Healthcare also. With the use of these technologies, a vast change can be brought in healthcare landscape like remote health monitoring, prediction of the possibility of having a disease etc. Connected devices are also being used to connect to a doctor remotely using meaningful health data and helping him diagnose a disease with his intelligence augmented with artificial intelligence.
At Agatsa, we have been harnessing the potential of latest technology to create path-breaking wireless hand-held ECG devices which are IoT in nature and are connected to smartphone app, cloud and doctor’s platform. They provide medical-grade ECG reports anytime, anywhere and get reviewed by real doctor and algorithms within a matter of minutes. In a country where cardiovascular problems are the biggest killers among non-communicable diseases, such technological innovations are critical
What are your expansion plans?
Agatsa is actively selling it’s devices and services through various online mediums in business-to-consumer (B2C) segments. Our devices are present on Amazon, sanketLife.in and Agatsa.com. We are also selling to business-tobusiness (B2B) segments like home healthcare companies, pharma companies and hospital chains. We have recently launched our hybrid ECG model called SanketLife Pro+ which can be used as a Leadless and also as a Lead-based ECG device to take 12-Leads of ECG with our new innovation called ‘SwitchSy’. This is a simple converter to be used on your pocket device and it converts leadless device to a lead-based in seconds.
We have plans to scale up our sales and operations in hospitals and clinics around India with this innovation in small cities and districts and also globally.
Cardiac care is expensive. So, do you have anything for the poor in your plan?
Cardiac care is expensive when it is detected late and a procedure needs to be done. We are focussing on early detection and prevention or timely intervention rather than reactive treatment. Hence, SanketLife is also used for a community screening of underprivileged masses and helps in early detection of disease and reducing the financial burden on such people by timely intervention and proper management of the disease. Sudden cardiac death can impose a great financial burden on the whole family of deceased, SanketLife not only helps in right diagnosis at the right time but also remotely connect such patients to quality healthcare.
We have already deployed our devices in various PHCs of Rajasthan, Delhi and Tripura and we are constantly innovating to create more affordable and multi-utility devices in this sector.
What is India’s role in handling cardiac care? Compare the situation with global scenario.
According to estimates, about half of all fatalities happen due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in India. Between 2005 and 2017, the prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVDs) grew at a CAGR of 9.2 percent and the conditions impacts 24.8 percent of all 25-to-69-year-olds in the country. Between 2005 to 2015, India lost $236 billion cumulatively due to heart disease, stroke and diabetes. On the global scale, CVDs caused 17.9 million deaths in 2016 which is 31% of the total deaths caused by NCDs all over the world.
In India, healthcare is now moving from the curative model to a preventive one. The healthcare industry is also tailoring its offerings according to the demands of the hour. Wearable and portable devices help us keep track of vital statistics including blood pressure, ECG, blood sugar, etc.
Regulating medical devices sector is a ‘priority’ in Health Ministry’s five-year plan. Your views.
Indian medical devices regulations are undergoing drastic changes and for the better. Until now, only a few ‘invasive’ medical devices were only regulated which left innovators like us to have innovated ‘ non invasive’ ‘ diagnostic’ devices, in dark. The need of the hour is to promote innovation and development of devices and technologies that suit the Indian market conditions and are capable of providing affordable universal healthcare in the country.
What are the job opportunities in this industry?
The healthcare and health-tech industry in India presents an immense potential to offer job opportunities. India being a land of innovators and technical experts, opportunities are immense in fields of high-tech medical devices and services. With technology venturing into healthcare field, electronics engineers, software developers, data scientists and bio-medical engineers have great career options in our industry in coming times. – Zeebiz