Arun Jaitley and Jeff Bezos
Searching the vast Internet, I was unable to find a site or a news item where India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and world’s richest man Jeff Bezos are mentioned together. And, yet as I got up this morning, both were on my mind because they have both decided to do something about making healthcare more affordable for people from low income families in two of the world’s largest democracies.
As part of the India’s 2018 Budget, Arun Jaitley announced a health insurance plan for 500 million low income citizens of India. Almost at the same time, Jeff Bezos announced low cost healthcare services to many of people in USA who are finding it increasingly difficult to get healthcare services.
Is this a coincidence? Or is this caused by super blue blood moon of 2018? We will never know.
And, look at the contrasting public health spending in these two countries – Present public healthcare spending in the USA is USD 4800 per citizen, while in India the figure is USD 26 per citizen. From public healthcare spending point of view, these two countries are almost two ends of the spectrum. It turns out that no healthcare system in any country is perfect, barring Singapore which has less population than a suburb of Bangalore. Common problems faced by healthcare planners are:
– Huge imbalance in demand (number of patients) and supply (physicians, specialists, care facility and infrastructure)
– High concentration of healthcare infrastructure in urban centers thus leaving a significant population base with very few care facilities
– Sharp increase in chronic disease patients
– High cost to the society due to avoidable invasive procedures
– Distance to diagnostics centers and tertiary care facilities
– Many avoidable deaths and huge loss of productivity due to delayed diagnosis
The root cause of these problems is the fact that significant investments have gone into technologies and infrastructure for tertiary care and decline of primary care or care close to home. Both Jaitley and Bezos have proposed plans that almost identical in their approach to address the healthcare problems in India and the USA:
– Better healthcare services at home or closer to home. In India, the emphasis is to improve primary care significantly. In the US, the approach is greater use of tele-medicine
– Success of both these plans depend on better use of technologies to deliver better care outcomes and reduce cost to the beneficiaries
What Jaitley and Bezos need is greater use of IoT and AI to make this happen. Companies like Cardiotrack and American Well are likely beneficiaries of these initiatives. These companies have demonstrated how technology can be deployed to optimally use available resources and drive down costs and provide better health outcomes.
Congratulations – @arunjaitley and @JeffBezos for your bold move to provide better healthcare to people who can least afford it. This is nation building at its best.
It has been scientifically proven that cardiovascular problems are genetically coded in South Asians so it is particularly critical to the Indian sub-continent where about 2.3 million people die of cardiovascular diseases every year.
Clearly the need of the hour is preventive care, something that warns against impending heart attacks. Something as simple as quick heart check-up while visiting the family doctor or neighbourhood clinic can save millions of lives. An easy, non-invasive test that gives both doctor and patient (if she asks for it) a snapshot of her cardiac condition. The answer is, Cardiotrack – a smartphone size device that is AI powered and gives clinical grade ECG readings.
Cardiotrack’s journey has been reasonably well documented, however what needs careful attention now is its metamorphosis from medical device company to cardiac care evangelist. By reading and assimilating information which is then routed through the AI platform, the humble little device has created an evocative picture of heart health across age groups and geographies. The result is a series of stories of how individuals who were almost at the cusp of a heart attack were saved because cardiac diagnosis was possible close to home.
While this is indeed heartening for the co-founders of the company what makes it even more worthwhile is the fact that many of the lives saved are of poor farmers whose deaths would’ve orphaned their families.
In over 60-70 scans taken per day at least one critical condition like STEMI or myocardial infarction is found translating to almost 20 critical cases per month and this is just for a small area within India. What is scarier than these numbers is the fact that most of these patients are unaware of their poor heart health condition.
Addressing a complex and chronic problem like cardiovascular diseases is a global challenge that needs to be solved and Cardiotrack is working to prove that the combination of Artificial Intelligence and IoT will help in breaching the numbers. An additional advantage is that this will lay the foundation for preventive cardiac care in the overall healthcare scenario.
Cardiotrack’s IoT (internet of things) device captures a patient’s heart signals accurately and the AI platform gives an accurate diagnosis, which allows both the general physician and the patient a glimpse into her heart condition even if there is no cardiologist available. The diagnosis is sufficient to trigger an intervention if necessary. The enormity of this is truly amazing and in the case of the patient, life-saving.
A simple, pragmatic and scaleable solution…that’s what cardiac care needs to save lives consistently and help it to leapfrog the urban-rural divide.
The data that the device has gathered creates a cardiac health map of the regions where it is used extensively, cutting across age groups and ethnicities. The result is that government healthcare bodies, hospitals, physicians, drug manufacturers and medical researchers can use it to make cardiac care more predictive and preventive.
As an organization that is working to ensure that heart health is not within the reach of only a privileged few, Cardiotrack believes in the fact that data should not be a proprietary asset. Instead, it should be used judiciously for the greater good.
The future of cardiac care is on track for better times. With Cardiotrack working to ensure that more people from disadvantaged regions and communities come within the purview of preventive cardiac care, a healthier nation and society is within grasp.
Bangalore-based start-up, Cardiotrack, which provides best-in-class predictive diagnosis for cardiovascular diseases announced today that it has expanded its presence in North India with its partnership with Gurgaon based multi-speciality hospital, Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon. This expansion will consolidate Cardiotrack’s position
“We are delighted to partner with Cardiotrack to reach out to a wide spectrum of population in Gurgaon and surrounding areas. By providing them with excellent preventive cardiac care we are working hard to ensure that the number of cardiovascular deaths is brought down.”