Many telemedicine systems today focus more on the ‘tele’ part, not on the ‘medicine’ part. Our solution enables remote diagnostics. Medical information and images stored in the system can be accessed by radiologists and pathologists hooked to the network.

rural pain killer

Three years ago, arural middle class hero from the IT services world had started questioning if he could build software products out of India.

Success, then, was few and far between. The early product firms were unable to sell locally — the market just wasn’t ready. While there was a disconnect in building products for other countries from India, setting up operations abroad was an expensive proposition and one that would make an Indian company much less competitive.

Serial entrepreneur and Dharwad-born Anant R Koppar, however, loves trekking through difficult terrains; climbing stiff mountains to hoist the ‘I can do it’ flag.

In 2007, he founded a last metre connectivity products firm that he named after his indomitable spirit. KTwo Technology Solutions is inspired by Mount K2, sometimes called ‘Savage Mountain’— for every four people who have attempted to scale it, one has died.

Koppar has certainly not reached the summit with his current venture — in 1997, he founded the successful Kshema which merged with MpahsiS. However, in two years, KTwo has seen reasonable success. The firm has developed a hands-free car kit that will be shipped to an Indian carmaker. The domestic market for products has started to open up.

The time was also ripe to think about an oft neglected sector — rural healthcare. About 66 per cent of the rural population has no access to critical medicine; 31 per cent have to travel more than 30 kms to seek treatment. Clearly, there was a technology opportunity in easing the pain.

Koppar decided to diversify KTwo into finding solutions for affordable and quality healthcare delivery and is currently piloting a healthcare management solution in four hospitals in Karnataka’s Gadag and Bagalkot.

The solution has multiple components — a patient data collection system, a disease identification kit, a telemedicine and blood bank management system. In short, it is a web-based product to help doctors based out of cities diagnose as well as treat patients in rural India.

"The first part of the solution is an electronic health record system," says Koppar. "A patient can register, get his ID number. The doctor’s prescription is entered into the system. On his next visit to the doctor, the patient can take a print out of the prescription," he adds. New observations are added into the system by a kiosk operator.

The system at the patient’s end is a computer that has a web cam and a ‘vital signs monitor’ that gauges things like the pulse, the blood pressure, and the temperature. It can be operated by a technician who can store medical information and images to be accessed by radiologists or pathologists hooked to the network from a remote location.

“Many telemedicine systems today focus more on the ‘tele’ part, not on the ‘medicine’ part,” says Koppar. “So we are providing a facility where you should be able to do remote diagnostics. You can get differential blood count and bio chemistry through a big machine. The machine costs between Rs 30 and 50 lakh. There are more than 25,000 primary health care centres in India. All of them can’t afford this,” he says. KTwo’s two-way solution will cost only a fraction.

The solution is very different from hospital information systems (HIS) that many other IT vendors sell. Most HIS systems do only administration work and does not include a software that makes it easy to identify a disease.

“The disease identification part is our differentiator and it is a system that is suited for rural India. How can you operate with minimal infrastructure? You may not have power; can you have a system that is powered by UPS and the UPS can be powered by solar? These are our experiments,” Koppar says. Such a solution would have to be either sold to the government for use in primary health care centres or to private small clinics.

An opex model, where the systems are owned and maintained by KTwo (the government only pays a monthly fee) appears to be a viable option.

Click to view the article published in Deccan Chronicle



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