Despite the rapid advances and adoption of technology, the sheer size of the country, the demographics and the economics of healthcare, make it a huge challenge for the innovators. Marrying technology and clinical innovation to the delivery of healthcare services is a challenging problem statement. Niloy Banerjee| Consultant Editor of BIS Infotech loops Suhas Tamras, Global Head – Medical Devices and Healthcare Practice at Tata Elxsi for exclusive talks. Wherein, Mr. Tamras explains on how they have been engaging with some of the largest medical devices brands in designing & building products and solutions for the future and how healthcare is acting as a stimulus towards the emerging buzzword technologies like AI, ML, IoT, Cloud etc. Edited Nub.
- What are the engineering and innovation of Medical Devices for emerging markets like India?
Emerging markets, such as India, provide the best and compelling opportunity for frugal and innovative engineering in Medical devices. The size of the market & the potential scale of growth has made global OEMs relook at traditional design & engineering approaches and methodologies. Let’s look at Diagnostics. As diseases, both lifestyle and viral, are prevalent, there is a growing need for low-cost, portable & ruggedized point-of-care diagnostic products which are yet of clinical standards. These devices are now disrupting the diagnostics space, with a number of service providers providing in-home diagnostic tests with digital reports made available in no time.
Health screening devices are enabling patients to take charge of their health at home and regularly monitor health indicators. Further, devices are being used to monitor patients remotely for early diagnosis thus minimizing hospital visits and reducing pressure on the country’s over-burdened medical resources
Minimally invasive surgical procedures and Advanced surgical equipment is another area where design & engineering expertise will play a greater role in providing quality treatment. However, there is still a gap in making these affordable for the larger rural & semi-rural India. With greater emphasis on the Make in India program, the future is promising for engineering and innovation to be made mainstream and affordable.
Despite the rapid advances and adoption of technology, the sheer size of the country, the demographics and the economics of healthcare, make it a huge challenge for the innovators. Marrying technology and clinical innovation to the delivery of healthcare services is a challenging problem statement.
- How Tata Elxsi helps Medical Device manufacturers adapt and meet the needs of the geography-specific regulatory compliance and help go-to-market with medical standard products?
Elxsi’s Medical Device and Healthcare practice provide end-to-end medical device engineering services with a user design and experience-centric approach.
We provide the complete gamut of design engineering services starting from consumer/market research to mechanical design (styling & prototyping), hardware and software engineering, value-engineering, regulatory standard adherence profile, independent verification and validation, and complete documentation support for certification and approval.
This gamut of one-stop-shop services is modeled to help Medical device OEMs to conceptualize/develop products, innovate and redesign exisiting products, and go-to-market for necessary certification support.
- Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, IoT has nudged every sector, in which, healthcare was said to be the foremost. How Tata Elxsi help design and engineering of next-gen medical devices?
Our ability to innovate in the product design space has been the fundamental differentiating factor for Tata Elxsi. We have numerous examples of engaging with some of the largest medical devices brands in designing & building products and solutions for the future. Tata Elxsi has played a major and pivotal role in most of the innovations that have enabled Medical devices OEMs to enter and expand in the emerging markets and some of the mature markets as well.
We are working on some futuristic concepts of early diagnostics and detection using AI-ML based platforms. These are solution accelerators that we are building, which will undergo User Testing and a restricted clinical testing as well. The intention is to build resusable components that can easily be plugged into our customer’s larger solutions.
One great example where we are helping customers commercialize path-breaking innovation is Hemex Health, where we are engaged in a partnership to develop a Point of Care Solution for detecting malaria and sickle cell disease. In addition to being POC, this device promises to be reliable than most of the RDTs available today, and at much lower price points.
- How will you define Digital Transformation for the Healthcare Industry and Tata Elxsi’s role in this mutating period?
The Digital Transformation is not sudden and we have been seeing the transition to a connected health paradigm, for almost a decade. There have been attempts to standardize communication interfaces via protocols like Continua, HL7, DICOM etc.
In the latest development, the digitization is focused more on the decentralization of healthcare and making it available to the end user. Hence in addition to the technology, this paradigm also poses risks arising out of the Usability aspects. Tata Elxsi’s “Design + Digital “theme addresses exactly these issues.
- Remote monitoring, tele-health and disease management etc. are also among the growing trends. What is Tata Elxsi take on these buzzwords?
As mentioned earlier, Tata Elxsi has been developing platforms for telehealth, Remote Monitoring and similar converging applications for a decade. These are not mere buzzwords. For example, Tata Memorial has a fully functional telemedicine service since the early 2000s. Similarly Narayana Hrudayalaya, KEM, Apollo Hospitals and many more have their own telehealth platforms.
This is helping the underserved population, access to some of the world class specialists, and helping to bring down the costs at the same time.
IOT and the cloud infrastructure will generate huge data for the researchers, which will, in turn, fuel path-breaking innovations in disease prevention, immunology etc.
- The Government initiative ‘Make in India’ has also included medical devices sector in its agenda. Do you think that India has the wherewithal to become the likes of the big dominators around the world?
Absolutely, the innovation is broadly on two fronts. Clinical innovations, where disruptive clinical solutions are being worked upon, and technology innovations, where service delivery models are being challenged. Tata Elxsi is working with startups who have the potential of changing the healthcare paradigm, not only in India but globally.
Additionally, most of the proven medical devices in the developed market are being localized for India and the est of the emerging markets. That space provides a unique opportunity for innovation as well. The challenge will be to address very competitive price points at the same time ensuring the highest reliability and ease of use.