With around 65 million people diagnosed with diabetes, India is known as the diabetes capital of the world. What’s more astonishing is that this figure is estimated to grow at a whopping 65% in the next ten years making one out of every 5th diabetic person in the world an Indian. How can India control this massive epidemic, and can technology help?
One of India’s most prominent IT services players, Wipro, is trying to address this problem by building a low cost device in partnership with Amrita Institute, a premier bio-medical institute in India. The institute has innovated upon a low cost non-enzymatic glucose monitoring strip, glucometer and a low cost insulin pump. Wipro would be an R&D partner who will design and develop the products till pre-compliance.
The solution will be comprising of a glucose monitoring device, integrated with mobile apps to enable the patient’s diabetic readings to be transferred to a cloud-based server. This is the first end-to-end diabetic solution which allows the patient to have access to personalized medical assistance for emerging markets like India.
“We are building an affordable, technology integrated diabetes solution that is aimed at middle and lower income groups in India. This will solve two predominant problems-the dearth of affordable diabetes care and the lack of adherence to medication. This solution ensures a seamless connect between patients and healthcare providers, and ensures the patient is monitored and made to adhere to the treatment regime,” states Jyotirmay Datta, Vice President – Medical Devices & Services, Wipro.
Datta says that there are around 77 million with pre-diabetes in whom, if altered glucose levels are detected early, monitored and managed, the actual onset can be postponed for several years. These statistics make this a very significant space for the healthcare ecosystem to make a huge impact.
The intellectual property for the solution will belong to Amrita University. The prototype of the device includes a glucometer and non-enzymatic glucose sensing strips and insulin pump. Wipro is building an integrated cloud, mobility and call center based eco-system in addition to aiding Amrita University to design and develop the device. The end-to-end diabetic care solution is aimed at improving patient care by enabling remote patient monitoring and better treatment adherence.
With the Health Ministry of India planning to launch screening program for diabetes and pre-diabetes across the country, the overall solution can be targeted at middle & low-income populations in cities, among urban & semi-urban slum dwellers, districts with basic cellular network connectivity.
A dominating pattern in diabetes in India is its prevalence in the slums. For example, 1 out of 4 people living in the slums of Chennai suffer from diabetes. And the cost of diabetes care is alarmingly high. To add to this, there are medication costs, costs of repeated hospital visits & physician consultations since diabetes care is a long drawn process. If one adult in a low-income family has diabetes, 25% of family income is dedicated to diabetes care.
The solution developed by Wipro and Amrita Institute can help in addressing this problem and bringing down the overall cost. The solution is being developed with the help of a grant from BIRAC (A Govt. of India Enterprise under the Department of Science and Technology) will not only reduce the device & strip costs by 1/3rd, but will ensure the patient is monitored continuously throughout the medication process.
The role of cloud
Wipro will be the technology partner for providing the entire Information & Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure. Wipro will design the devices, develop mobile apps and portals, and enable cloud based remote patient monitoring.
“The use of cloud based technology will enable the design and development of a low cost, intuitive, blue tooth enabled glucometer along with non-enzymatic sensing strips and insulin pump to measure and transmit the glucose levels of the patient to the care network. The SaaS based solution will help build multiple web and mobility based applications for the exchange of data between patients, doctors and counselors. An outbound call center to provide 24*7 patient monitoring and assistance to ensure better treatment adherence,” says Jyotirmay.
In the future, as the solution keeps gaining maturity from its nascent state, various business models and service design models are expected to evolve from this initiative where the stakeholders can be subjected to pay-per-use or outcome-based models for the corresponding services. The usage of cloud enables the solution to be flexible, scalable and re-usable and can be tailor-made or customized for Wipro’s customers for implementing in different markets and in different care segments (high cholesterol monitoring etc.). The solution will also reduce the risk associated with diabetes by enabling real time interaction between health care providers and patients leading to greater adherence and dosage corrections. The presence on mobile and web can enable access anytime anywhere.
Currently, trials of the solution will be performed for 200 patients by leveraging Amrita University’s hospital and its fully computerized and networked Hospital Information System (HIS).
A disease like diabetes needs continuous monitoring to keep sugar levels under check. In this context, a simple and affordable diabetes care solution that can enable integrated and real-time care from start to finish can be a game changer in the way diabetes care is done in the country.