Dr. Kanav Kahol's lifelong passion for developing affordable health care solutions led him to develop the Swasthya Slate, which enables paramedics and healthcare workers to conduct tests such as blood sugar, blood pressure, ECG etc using a mobile device.
"I worked closely with health care workers in different parts of the country and realised the need to equip them with some mobile tools to monitor the health of the patients on every visit," said Dr Kahol in a conversation with this newspaper. "A health worker in Himachal Pradesh showed me 55 training manuals she had at her place and explained the difficulty of carrying them around during her visits. I took pictures of those manuals and created a PDF and showed her how she could keep all these manuals handy in a phone. This gave me the idea of providing diagnostics on a mobile phone. I zeroed in on some primary diagnostics and put them all together on a tablet to make an affordable diagnostic tool," said Kahol who is currently an adjunct assistant professor at the Mayo Clinic, USA and member of the Public Health Foundation of India.
This cloud-based monitoring portal generates a special "Swasthya Slate ID" for each patient screened, thus simplifying the process of tracking the patient's medical history and maintaining records. In states like Punjab, where many share the same name, patient histories are hard to track.
The tool is now being used in Muktsar, Punjab with an NGO's assistance. "We specifically customised the antenatal care and the cardiovascular screening applications for Punjab, according to the needs of the user, translating each question in Punjabi, and addressing the common health issues in the region," said Kahol. "The operators of the slate in Punjab even reported a rise in the number of people coming in tests, and that is the biggest feather in our cap."
When asked how the device is different from mobile apps that monitor blood pressure and sugar levels Dr Kahol said, "There are no known products with this type of integrative approach across various functions of public health. However as you mentioned there are a few disconnected systems each individually connecting to phones which make collection of multiple diagnostic elements cumbersome. Our product not only combines all the diagnostics but also has algorithms that can interpret multiple diagnostics together."
"The Slate combines nine diagnostics and offers them at a fraction of the standard costs. A 95% cost reduction per user allows the possibility of universal health coverage," he claimed.
At a cost ranging from Rs 25,000- 30,000, the tablet works both on internet dongles or mobile internet.