Lab on wheels brings Covid-19 testing facility to your doorstep

K. V. Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on August 05, 2020 Published on August 05, 2020

A Vera Smart Healthcare bus collecting samples

Vera Smart Healthcare pilots mobile Covid care services in Andhra, Telangana

It’s agreed wisdom that the more we test, the better we can contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the challenge has been to make tests more accessible to people. Here is a solution on wheels to help overcome that challenge.

Vera Smart Healthcare, a US- and India-based healthcare start-up, has piloted a Covid-testing bus in the States of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana. So far, 170 buses have been deployed across the two States, charging citizens at pay-per-service rates fixed by the local governments.

Speed and reach

Each bus is equipped with 10 safe sample collection points and 500 samples are collected in an hour. Twenty technicians allotted to each bus collect and process the samples.

After collection, the samples are sent to the diagnostic laboratories in the network. Some of the buses are also equipped with ventilators and isolation spaces that can be converted into Covid clinics if the need arises. Of the 15 lakh samples that Andhra Pradesh collected until last week, the Vera lab on wheels brought in six lakh samples.

Data generated from the tests are fed into the company’s ‘iMASQ’ (Intelligent Monitoring Analysis Services Quarantine) solution which helps the government in surveillance and monitoring of Covid-19 patients and their contacts.

Armed with information on the availability of beds in various government hospitals, the bus operator can shift patients to the nearest facility if needed.

Affordable solution

“The beauty of the model is that there are no heavy investments by the government. We just collect a fee for each sample and process it. The fee is inclusive of the staff costs and technological assistance and the data,” says Dharma Teja Nukarapu, Founder-Chief Executive Officer, VERA Smart Healthcare.

Would the fee be enough to meet the operating cost of these buses?

According to Dharma Teja, Vera Smart Healthcare already has a sizeable fleet of Volvo and Benz buses (both owned and leased). The company was set up with a vision of providing home health care services in rural areas, and was engaged in smart monitoring systems for the last four years. It pivoted to provide Covid-care services during the pandemic.

Twenty buses have recently been deployed in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) area.

“We are starting the services in Telangana with 20 buses under the MASQ Golden Hour brand as they house beds to take care of the patients in critical conditions. We are hoping to increase the fleet to 50 in a week,” said Dharma Teja.

“We will increase the number of buses in Telangana to 100 in the next few weeks,” he said.

The firm has about 2,500 employees, including those in the technology development team and those manning the buses.

After covering Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, VERA hopes to expand operations to other States. “We are in talks with Tamil Nadu and Odisha governments to offer our services,” says Dharma Teja.


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Published on August 05, 2020
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