Kiran Bulusu had seen both his father and his grandfather suffer from diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (CVD) ever since his mid-twenties. When he lost his grandfather to CVD, he lamented the lack of remote monitoring and diagnosis devices that may have helped the matter. So, he decided to build one himself.
In 2012, he and his co-founder Karan Shah setup Sensory Health Systems, a clinical health diagnosis startup. Sensory Health is in the process of creating the world’s first remote monitoring devices that will primarily help analyse and diagnose clinical conditions like CVD, hypertension, diabetes, and blood pressure levels among other health conditions.
“Kiran and I are long-term colleagues. When Kiran’s father suffered from chronic health conditions, we realised that it is a huge problem especially in developing countries where there are no tools to monitor such situations. That’s when we decided we needed to do something about it.” says Karan Shah, co-founder at Sensory Health Systems.
They began work on the ‘mobile chronic health management platform’ after being incubated in the Founder Institute startup accelerator in Silicon Valley. The device can be run via sensors and a smartphone. “What we did is, we put a whole bunch of sensors into one device, along with an algorithm created for diagnosis. The device will track and record different vital signs based on this.” explains Karan.
According to the World Health Organisation, chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and stroke, are the leading causes of death and disability in India. By 2030, nearly three-quarters of the deaths in India will be caused by chronic diseases. Of these, deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases, is set to double to over 4 million from 2.7 million in 2004 [WHO]. The impact is economic as well. The country is set to lose over $237 billion annually by 2015 from premature deaths owing to these chronic diseases.
How Does the Sensory Health System Work?
Sensory Health System will provide the hardware and software required for the remote monitoring system to work. “The beauty of our device is not the hardware or the software, but the harmony of it. The merger with the software is what makes us different.” says Karan
The sensor that is used for detection is the size of a credit card and will be patched near a user’s heart. From here any anomalies detected in a person are transferred wirelessly to a person’s smartphone. The company says they will release an app to co-ordinate between the two shortly. All data is then collected, and previous medical records of a user too are stored on a cloud-server accessible to healthcare practitioners, doctors or the patients themselves.
“The device will be constantly monitoring the users vitals and will immediately alert to the smartphone when there is any change or it detects any level that is dangerous,” says Karan, “ We have also ensured smart encryption on the cloud server to keep a user’s data and profile secure.” he adds.
Sensory Health: It’s Cost-effective & Unlike Usual Monitoring Devices
Health-care expenditure for the prevention and diagnosis of these diseases costs 70% of monthly-income to the low income groups in the country, and highest income groups spend 45% of their monthly income for the same [WHO]. Sensory Health seeks to solve this problem of expenditure, and has targeted the product in india and other South Asian countries.
“We have found that there are at least 6-10 million potential users in the country, but how many can afford the current system? With our delivery system, we provide much cheaper technology, that is not cumbersome to wear and is completely wireless. There will be no false detection and we will be achieving clinical level accuracy.” says Karan.
While the company has not decided on their pricing strategy as of yet, they plan to partner with healthcare providers and provide the system at subsidised rates.They are also mulling a subscription-based system for the weaker sections of the economy. “Heart rate monitors cost anywhere between 3 lakhs to 10 lakhs to maintain a year, our device will be significantly cheaper.” says Karan.
The two former engineers are also in the process of patenting their remote chronic disease monitoring system as well. “Patents are quite expensive to acquire. We are working with lawyers as of now to protect the Intellectual Property of our system.” informs Kara.
Currently bootstrapped by the founders, the company have a team of 10 members spread across India and Silicon Valley for the system’s R&D. Sensory Health has developed the prototype of the system and plan to go into beta and launch products by the end of summer 2014. They are also on the lookout for funds from investors as they scale their business and look to commercially launch the product.