A group of doctors and professionals from the diaspora in the US and from India has launched a first-of-its-kind online map that shows available hospital beds in India with real-time updates, aimed at providing critical and time-sensitive information to anxious Covid-19 patients, as the country battles a devastating second wave of the pandemic.

‘MadadMaps.com’ by Project Madad (help) is India’s first country-wide map of available hospital beds with real-time updates, said Washington-based Dr Rajesh Anumolu, lead architect of ‘MadadMaps’.

The portal uses a proprietary algorithm to extract information from all major online aggregators of hospital beds availability in every Indian city and State for both the government and private hospitals, he said.

It cross-verifies and filters this information across sites, prioritises official data and eliminates all data that has not been updated for long, he said.

Critical details provided

Project Madad, a unique initiative by the voluntary team of 15 Indian and Indian diaspora doctors/Covid-19 experts and 12 professionals, has been created with the mission that “proper education and training” of local healthcare workers and Registered Medical Practitioners (RMPs) will be “fundamental” in controlling Covid spread in rural India.

“Indian families combating Covid-19 are struggling to access proper care such as oxygen supply, ventilators or access to an ICU bed for their loved ones.

“Across the country, to find a hospital bed, our citizens are forced to call each hospital, manually find hospitals online, or place desperate appeals on social media,” a statement from Project Madad said.

The team said that such is the intensity of the crisis that hospital beds sometimes get filled before a patient reaches the hospital.

While State governments and civil society organisations are running a number of aggregators and lists of hospital beds in cities in India, with varying times of update, “there exists no single source to find a hospital bed anywhere in India in an emergency. We are losing too many of our citizens to Covid-19 before they even make it to the hospital,” it said. “This will no longer be the case,” the team said.

Project Madad lead Raja Karthikeya said MadadMaps is “India’s first real time map of hospital beds designed for Covid-19 and any other public health emergency that India may face” in the future.

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The website provides critical and real-time details such as hospital name and location, availability of ICU beds, ventilators, oxygen supply, non-oxygen beds, along with indication of the precise time of last update of availability, hospital phone numbers, directions to hospital as well as facility to call directly from the map.

For patients and their families, the website provides immediate information of all available Covid-19 treatment centres, expedites access to hospitals, seeks to reduce psychological stress of people in their time of crisis and provides directions and traffic conditions to any hospital.

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Tech to the rescue

For healthcare professionals and Covid-19 war-rooms, the portal seeks to help direct patients to hospitals that have bed availability, reduce crowds of patients’ families waiting to verify availability of beds outside hospitals and, in turn, eliminate risk of super-spreader events, assess which hospitals need more support to provide care based on supply demand and insufficiency, and reduce stress placed on hospital staff by patient overload.

Karthikeya said Covid-19 is an unprecedented pandemic but had this health crisis happened 20 years ago, “we would have been in a much more difficult place. But this is 2021. We have technology at our fingertips.” He said that there is a great awareness and understanding of technology among the population in India.

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He also offered that the Government of India and other stakeholders can “take over” MadadMaps.com and “share it through government platforms like CoWIN or Aarogya Setu so that it reaches as many people as possible across the country”.

Karthikeya added that with time, the team aims to fine-tune the portal and along with data of government and private hospitals, it is also trying to add data of vaccination centres and other emergency services on the portal.

India has been severely affected by the unprecedented second wave of the coronavirus and hospitals in several States are reeling under the shortage of beds, health workers, vaccines, drugs and oxygen.

On Wednesday, India reported 1,32,788 new coronavirus infections, taking the country’s tally to 2,83,07,832, according to the Union Health Ministry.

The Covid-19 death toll climbed to 3,35,102 with 3,207 fresh deaths, it said, adding that the active cases were recorded below 20 lakh for the second consecutive day.