IoTMAT 2020 3- Healthcare - India Unlocked - Devices to Scale, Story of Design & Manufacturing Intrusive Ventilators for India

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Session Blog. See overview at  IoTMATRIX 2020 Conference Summary


Fireside Chat

Participants -

Srikant Sastri  - https://www.linkedin.com/in/srikantsastri1/ 

(Global task force to design and manufacture intrusive ventilator for India) IIT-K/DST/MoH/HNIs  in conversation With 

Vijaya Kumar Ivaturi  (IVK), Co-founder & CTO, Crayon Data 

This is the journey of a team that went on to design and manufacture India’s first intrusive ventilator. The story begins with the government of India calling India’s premier technology institutes to build high quality and affordable world-class intrusive ventilator to counter the shortfall that arose due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

This call was answered by IIT Kanpur through its incubator in getting together a team of 20 stalwarts who were alumni, startup founders, CEO’s, supply chain expert, legal and regulatory expert, students, ex-govt officials, faculty members and all in the age range of 73 to 23 years.  

Here comes a self-volunteered robotics company that expressed its willingness to build and manufacture this medical device.   

The task force had never met or known each other before and all were connected by one noble cause and then all the connections happened over Zoom calls.

The team says it was a design by accident and the skill gaps were filled by collaborating. The team followed a 3 pillar strategy.

First Pillar - External team of experts 

Second Pillar - Startup Founders

Third Pillar - a team of youngsters who interfaced between the first and third pillar.

Some of the learnings during this journey,

  • To do documentation at each and every step
  • Agreeing on common cause through discussions and deliberations
  • Collaboration between academia, industry and government agencies
  • In today’s situation location doesn’t matter to develop or collaborate on any product design, development or manufacturing 
  • How to work with a diverse team in a remote environment
  • Pricing a product thru various iterations 
  • How to scale faster with a combination of self-manufacturing and thru licensing 
  • Working groups with the right mix of talent and experience are essential for every team to succeed 


Finally, the ventilator which otherwise would have taken anywhere between 18-24 months was ready in 82 days against a target of 90 days.


Healthcare Panel:  A Device to Scale - India Unlocked -


Moderator - Vijaya Kumar Ivaturi (IVK), 98450 27241 Co-founder & CTO, Crayon Data.     https://www.linkedin.com/in/vkivaturi/ 

Panellists: 

Mr Suthirth Vaidya Predible Health 97899 58684 (Lung IQ) https://www.linkedin.com/in/suthirth/ 

Dr Vishal Rao 97397 74949 (AUM Box) HCG.

Ashish Gawade +91 98508 19688 (Jeevtronics)  https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashishgawade1/ 

Mayur Sirdesai +91 98338 60455 (Somerset IndusCapital Partners) https://www.linkedin.com/in/mayur-sirdesai-b69b338/ 

The panel joined to discuss the Affordability of Healthcare devices in India both from coverage and diagnosis with two devices manufacturers, one from software and the other from the investment company. While Ashish from Jeevtronics built the world’s first cranked defibrillator, Dr Vishal came out with an affordable voice box for cancer infected patients

Developing the defibrillator was conceived as a solution for rural India where power supply is always inconsistent and the cardiac arrest patients had to be responded to within a 10 mins window. This device also works with an inbuilt generator. With Ashish’s earlier work experience and exposure to the automotive industry and supplier, the ecosystem helped them leverage vastly to bring down the costs and really turned this product into a world-class ultra-durable and affordable device in its category. 

Dr Vishal started with a quote from Dalai Lama who said, “Idea comes to you, not from you”. He further added Healthcare innovations should have their roots in Patients and being a doctor, he could relate this over a couple of years. His motto was, Can I make my patients speak? This followed by mention of Occam's razor, 

“A principle in science and philosophy, much applied in medicine, that one should try to account for an observed phenomenon in the simplest possible way and should not look for multiply explanations of its different aspects”.

He stressed a need for Design Thinking for Health and Collaborate effort between health and non-health expert’s ecosystem has to be nurtured to bring simplicity to the device and always keeping the end-user need in mind. Adding to that was, understanding demand and building a scalable business model with the role of distributors was very essential. 

Suthirth Vaidya from Predible Health highlighted the challenges faced by their firm when they went to market as a software company as people never would want to pay for software and when they flipped around the model of giving built-in software with the hardware is which something worked out with them. They specialized in applying machine learning techniques to patient’s radiology images. Like the previous panellists, he too was of the opinion to identify the right problem and having scope to scale.

Our last panellist Mayur Sirdesai opined that MedTech and Diagnostics were a lucrative and opening up sector for investors and they looked for startups or companies with technology for the right use cases who good quality products in terms of innovation and for masses. He felt that MedTech is seeing similar patterns to the Indian pharma industry in the 1980s. 

He highlighted that in India there are many distribution companies that have access to the ecosystems, and they should try to collaborate with innovators for product development and they can offer market access to these devices. While he mentioned that investment decision making takes longer in capital intensive business, but certain platform investors and innovators have come together to speed up these businesses.

Some of the other points that were touched upon where the panel felt were there has to be a balance between the social goal and investor community. Price, volume, target segment had to be understood and researched well before the launch of any devices. The role of Govt. played an important role as a regulator and also as an important participant in the PPP model which mostly works in India for the healthcare sector post-Covid environment. 

On the Talent side, panellists uniformly addressed the need for a well-balanced between knowledge and skills. Engineers need to hands-on with stuff they work on. Also, cultural awareness about working in startup’s vs MNC’s was critical with interdisciplinary and other domains exposure was a must. 

Pricing the devices was a critical factor and hence the panellist added do proper market research first and then do engineering. Pricing models have to be different for each target market and they have to be dynamic and now the annual subscriptions model is moving to pay per use.

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