The need for real-time cardiac monitoring
Many doctors have long believed that the true solution to the problem of cardiovascular disease would come through real-time monitoring ECG (electrocardiogram) devices. CVD is the biggest killer in the whole world and is often hard to monitor, especially in the developing world, where resources are minimal and specialists hard to find.
That is not to say that we have not experienced breakthroughs in the last few decades. ECG testing has become easier and more convenient, with many hospitals offering free walk-in ECG tests. The problem is that these routine tests are only taken when the participant is in a resting state, meaning that they can only really detect acute cases. If you have a suspect heart condition and make an appointment the next day, there is a large chance that the ECG test will not pick up on any abnormalities.
This is why doctors require real-time monitoring to get a true grasp of a patient’s situation. There are some devices on the market but they are not fully automated and the doctor has to download the data. These devices are also not sufficiently mobile or rugged, meaning that there is a certain level of inconvenience that comes with wearing the device. The doctor also has to analyze the data themselves in order to make a diagnosis, which is an often an unwelcome task to already over-burdened practitioners.
A low-cost, wearable cardiac monitor for India
In India, the aforementioned problems are more pressing as the average hospital does not have the funds to offer proper diagnostics, especially in rural areas where the quality of medical care is often poor. India currently only has one cardiologist for every four hundred cardiac patients.
To remedy the problem, a Bengaluru-based startup, Cardiac Design Labs, has developed an affordable, wearable cardiac monitor, MIRCaM, which can help to give cardiac reports and send the diagnosis to the doctor. While other ECG machines only push PDF’s or image to a handheld device, the MIRCaM is able to send binary data which is coupled with the metadata. The doctor receives information to their phone on how to treat a patient in real-time while the app is plotting the ECG.
The team at Cardiac Design Labs refused to use an off-the-shelf algorithm for analyzing the data, instead choosing to work with top cardiology specialists and departments to code their own. They programmers took bi-weekly cardiology lesson from specialists and embedded almost the whole textbook of cardiology into their algorithm. Rather than just pulling the data sets and comparing to the latest ECG data, the MiRCaM algorithm is able to analyze the data as a doctor would.
Explaining the benefit of this setup over competitors, head of hardware and production, Praveen Murthy told an interviewer for livemint.com, “Because the entire intelligence is on the back-end device—most companies try to load the front end—only cardiac events are pushed into the cloud or the doctor’s phone. In the case of an event, the expert system can send alerts, which can be customized. Say, you are jogging around a park and you experience pain, the doctor can analyze in real time what is happening—it could be a rhythm problem or a secondary block”
In case of an event, the expert system can send alerts…….you are jogging around a park and you experience pain, the doctor can analyse in real time what is happening
Praveen Murthy, Cardiac Design Labs
The MIRCam set up contains 12 lead ECG’s which are worn on the body. They are lightweight and cause minimal inconvenience to the wearer. The data is recorded through these ECG and transmitted to a tablet or phone via Bluetooth.
Patient Bedside Tablet
The patient-side device is a Samsung tablet where all the intelligence is found. The tablet is loaded with an intelligent cardiac clinical analytics engine. It can detect arrhythmia and coronary heart diseases. The device uses 2G/3G for real-time telemetry.
The cloud server detects episodes and diagnoses in the uploaded data. This data is encrypted for maximum security
MIRCaM Doctor’s App
Allows the doctor to remotely monitor episodes and access diagnosis. It also sends alerts and notifications.
This setup is smart, rugged and effective. The HWTrek platform also includes a number of experts who are skilled in ECG technology. For example, Biolight in Zhuhai, China have a full range of digital ECG solutions and products. Edan Instruments are experts in medical devices and can provide diagnostic ECG. Shenzhen Manridy Technology is a leader in healthcare and medical wearables and offers solutions for wearable ECG.
The MIRCaM has the potential to disrupt the whole cardiac diagnosis industry. At present, the system is being used in a few cardiac centers in cities, but its real target market is GP’s and 20-30 bed hospitals in smaller towns. Real opportunity will be with deployment by cardiologists and hospitals to increase their patient flow. MedTech has the potential to not only benefit the haves of this world but also make real changes for the less fortunate.
HWTrek has a number of experts inside the ecosystem who develop ECG related solutions:
Guangdong Biolight Meditech Co., Ltd. (Biolight) is a high-tech joint-stock company located in Zhuhai, which focuses on developing, producing and marketing of medical instruments including a patient monitoring system, central monitoring system, hemodialysis system and wearable medical devices.
Edan Instruments is a professional High-Tech company combining R&D, manufacture, and distribution of advanced electronic medical equipment. They can provide diagnostic ECG devices.
Shenzhen Manridy is a leader in wearable health and medical technology. They can provide full solutions for portable ECG monitors.
ACME Portable is a worldwide leader in manufacturing rugged portable computers. At present they can offer a full solution for portable ECG.