37-year-old doctors, Dhruv Joshi and Dileep Raman developed 'smart ICU' technology that detected early signs of oxygen levels dropping in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) of a district hospital in Karnataka.
Cloudphysician, a start-up firm founded by Joshi and Raman in 2017, uses IT to transfer visuals and data from the ICU to a manned command center where intensivists and other specialists make swift decisions on the treatment protocol to be followed.
During the second wave of COVID-19, "Oxygen pressure at the ICU had fallen to a critical level, which our command center team picked up by monitoring the ventilators. The oxygen being delivered to the patient was much below the level that had been set," said Joshi in a report by The Indian Express.
The sounding of an early alarm averted a possible mass fatality from occurring. The technology, according to them, makes up for a critical vacuum in the country's healthcare system amid the scarcity of trained ICU specialists such as intensivists, pulmonologists, and anesthetists.
Why India Needs Smart ICU?
Joshi mentioned that while they were at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, United States, they were solving many of the problems associated with the shortage of specialist doctors using technology. It was during the time they realised the problem was greater in India.
Multiple media reports highlighted that the ICU ventilators provided to hospitals through the PM Cares scheme were not being utilised owing to the lack of trained intensivists and ICU experts to handle the equipment.
Joshi stated that there were around 350 intensivists in the country for three lakh ICU beds and a surge in COVID patients multiplied the problem significantly
"You must remember that the ventilator is a complicated machine. Once you get one, you need somebody to use it appropriately," he said. This was where the technology developed by the firm came to the rescue.
Is It Being Used In Hospitals?
The Karnataka government turned to the duo to get ICUs running in as many as five government hospitals. Joshi added that their smart ICU technology has so far serviced over 3,500 COVID patients in the state both in government and private hospitals between April to June.
While the Karnataka government used its own tele-ICU facility (top critical care experts in Bengaluru conducting tele-rounds of hospitals twice a day) what distinguishes Cloudphysician is that it is present in the ICU 24/7.
Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Dr C N Ashwathnarayan, backed the initiative in the report saying, "The technology enables hospitals to have their beds and patient data remotely monitored through CCTV and inter-connected sensors while giving hospitals access to highly qualified intensivists and nurses."
The start-up is also using its technology in government hospital ICUs in Maharashtra and Kerala. Cloudphysician has now been roped in to run a 24-bed ICU facility at the 150-year-old government Epidemic Diseases Hospital, which is equipped with 24 PM Cares ventilators but does not have trained staff to operate the equipment 24/7.
The firm has as many as 100-employees, with 60 of the staff clinicians (doctors, nurses, specialist doctors, intensivists) and 30 of them part of the engineering team working on machine learning, AI, and web and mobile development. The firm has a proprietary software called Radar which it uses in ICUs.