A low-cost tech solution for hearing loss from Medtronic

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on August 29, 2019

At least 25.16 per cent of Kerala's population suffers from some form of hearing loss

Kerala may be ranked the best among States in terms of overall health index but statistics suggest its people might also be a little hard of hearing, a condition considered mostly curable either medically or surgically.

At least 25.16 per cent of its population suffers from some form of hearing loss against the national average of 20 per cent, points out Praveen Aggarwal, Advisor to the Gurgaon-based Medtronic Labs, quoting Government of India statistics.

A ‘desi’ solution

Medtronic Labs is piloting Shruti, a comprehensive ear care programme backed up by an innovative and cost-effective technology solution, that has screened 6.5 lakh patients and is now reaching out to the public health system.

The disability adjusted life years (DALY) for hearing disability in Kerala is 633.87 (per one lakh people) against a national average of 484.17, Aggarwal told BusinessLine here. DALY refers to years lost due to disability for the affected people.

Kaustubh Bhatnagar, Regional Head-Asia, Medtronic Labs, SAID the programme is five-years-old and has till now been mostly in the pilot stage. “We’ve now screened about 6.5 lakh patients with our ENTraview, a portable otoscope (medical device to screen ears) made in India, and generated sufficient insight in terms of patient behaviour and health worker training. With all that, we’ve now started to reach out to the public health system of the government. That’s where it can scale, and make maximum impact.”

Partnering with ENTs

Medtronic Labs has been trying to revise and improve the processes, testing the model, and whether an Asha worker or an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) can handle the technology device used for screening.

ENTraview is offering itself as a proven solution to tackling hearing disability at the earliest possible stage and ensure ‘accessible and affordable’ ear care of high quality.

“We’ve already tied up with a few State for pilots as private-public partnership initiatives and are now looking to approach the Kerala government with a proposal,” Bhatnagar added. Garima Sahai, Head-Government and Impact Partnerships, Medtronic Labs, concurred, saying that in the last two months that it has done pilots with three to four State governments.

Works offline, too

“They are more or less convinced about the technology. But they wanted to see whether a person like an ANM can be trained suitably, which we have now demonstrated.”

ENTraview works offline also, and that takes care of connectivity issues, if any. By taking care of preliminary diagnosis, it helps reduce the burden at the secondary and tertiary hospitals.

According to Aggarwal, this is all about process re-engineering, a model perfected by Sankara Netralaya or a Narayana Health to increase reach to the last mile.

ENTraview is a simple hand-held device working on 3G/wireless technology which anybody, not necessarily a medico, can carry into the field and deploy after six or seven hours of training. It takes less than 8-10 minutes for a screening and gives a preliminary diagnosis sheet that can be uploaded, along with images, into a cloud server for specialists’ reference.

Published on August 29, 2019

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