05 Jan 2016 13:15 IST

To make prevention easier, cheaper

Diabetes and heart patients will look forward to BPL Technologies’ new device

India will soon attain the dubious distinction of being the ‘Diabetes Capital of the World,’ according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). About 17 per cent of the country’s population, over 66 million people, suffer from diabetes. The IDF estimates also say that 33 per cent of adults with diabetes in India remain undiagnosed, especially in rural areas and amongst the poor, preventing proper management of the disease.

Likewise, according to data released by the Registrar General of India, cardiovascular disease has emerged the top killer of Indians, accounting for 23 per cent of all deaths in 2010-13. "And more than half of the 30 million affected people are in rural areas," says Kavea S Abhishek, Product Marketing Manager (m-health), BPL Medical Technologies.

Given the wide prevalence of these diseases, monitoring one’s health, is crucial to their prevention. But regularly visiting a doctor and taking a laundry list of tests is cumbersome and expensive. More so because there is an acute dearth of physicians: roughly 0.7 doctors to 1,000 persons, says the World Health Organisation. Hoping to address this lacuna, the Bengaluru-based BPL Medical Technologies recently launched its m-Health service through which consumers can measure 12-lead ECG, heart rate and blood glucose levels. They can also keep a tab on activity parameters such as steps walked and calories burnt, and save the data on a cloud-based platform. BPL also enables mobile consultations with doctors through its m-consult service.

“This unique service is enabled through BPL LifePhone Plus. "The device can be synced to the Android smart phone application, which documents the user data and transmits it to the cloud via Bluetooth, where it is stored them,” explains Abhishek. After this, the patient can seek a consultation and get medical advice from a specialist on-board, or from a specialist of his/her choice (mapped into this service) using the smartphone, she adds.

To make the device acceptable in rural areas, the future development on the application would entail adding more languages to the settings. At present, there are two variants available in the market: The ECG+Pedometer and the ECG+ Blood Glucose+ Pedometer. The device is priced at around $250 (around ₹16,500). A comparable product currently costs upwards of ₹60,000.

Internet and smartphone penetration has improved considerably in rural India. “Here, a single device attached to a smart phone can be used as primary screening tool for multiple patients,” she adds, thereby making it cost effective. According to BPL, the service has the potential to transform grassroot level primary healthcare in rural areas. “An ECG acquisition on this device takes a mere minute! That’s substantially less than the time taken in conventional ECG. It’s almost at an instant, like in a glucometer, and at a fraction of the cost. All you need is a smartphone and a data connection."

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