A hospital in Tamil Nadu which treats adivasis is using a unique technology to help patients receive access to diagnostic reports within hours.

Ashwini - Gudalur Adivasi Hospital has installed an AI device to run remote lab tests built by the Bengaluru-based start-up SigTuple. President of Business Growth and Strategy at SigTuple, Pranat Bhadani, told BusinessLine that there are huge nutritional deficiencies of sickle cell and anemia found in the region.

“One cannot simply diagnose sickle cell, or anemia just based on a consultation. They need to look into the cell type, morphology of the cell, and then confirm the diagnosis,” he added.

With SigTuple’s device ‘Shonit’, biological samples (for ex, blood samples) can be digitised on a glass slide, analysed by cloud-based AI algorithms, and sent to remote pathologists for the final diagnosis. “Once we have digitised the sample, we push it on the cloud, where AI algorithms run on those images and give visual evidence back to the lab. Along with the AI report, we also send visual evidence, corresponding to every single cell type. Making the diagnosis process more efficient,” said Bhadani.

Reducing turnaround time

Typically, the hospital receives 50 samples a day of which 25 would need microscopy. SigTuple claims to have brought down the hospital’s turnaround time of lab tests from more than two days, to less than 15 mins.

The device comes with on-device storage, which allows it to store all the images even with low internet access. Once there is a viable internet connection, the device uploads all the images to the cloud and analysis can take place.

“We’ve also seen it working with the mobile hotspot as well. It might take a bit longer to upload but it will work. Further, it does require a constant power source to run but does not need any new socket type,” Bhadani added.

SigTuple has tied up with Silicon Valley Bank to waive off the initial buying cost along with the monthly usage charges for a five-year period. The typical pricing of SigTuple’s device is ₹14 lakh for corporates, followed by a monthly cost of ₹15,000 which includes cloud, AI, and maintenance costs.

Going forward, the start-up hopes to partner with more corporates like Silicon Valley Bank to deliver quality healthcare in remote locations. However, SigTuple does not want these rural setups to be perpetually funded by a CSR initiative.

“The idea of giving a five-year free usage is to give the hospital enough time to build good practices and pay us a reduced amount of ₹10,000 a month. Eventually, making it a sustainable model for a longer time period,” said Bhadani.