Mobile tech to screen ear infections
Mobile Technology To Screen Ear Infections. In collaboration with a mobile health start-up, a design firm and local health clinics, Medtronic, is orchestrating a programme aimed at improving diagnosis and treatment of ear infections and hearing loss.
In collaboration with a mobile health start-up, a design firm and local health clinics, Medtronic, is orchestrating a programme aimed at improving diagnosis and treatment of ear infections and hearing loss.
The programme titled ‘Shruti’, has screened nearly 11,000 people across the country so far and referred dozens for follow-up care from ENT surgeons.
At the core of the programme is a small cohort of community health workers, a smartphone-based otoscope developed by Icarus Design and a telemedicine platform developed by MIT spinout ClickMedix.
Started in August 2013, community health workers at Dr Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital in New Delhi and Health Management and Research Institute in Hyderabad were trained on a screening protocol developed by Medtronic. It would be used to test people who come to the screening camps. They were also trained on how to use the otoscope to take pictures of the inside of the ear. The pictures would then be sent to ENT specialists stationed at the clinic.
Deafness and chronic ear infections are especially prevalent in low-income countries, where access to proper, timely and affordable care is an issue. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), early identification and intervention can reduce the impact of hearing loss.
Medtronic is funding the pilot project, which aims to screen 70,000 people in India, but sees it as a programme that’s both scalable and self-sustaining.
For the public, it means expanded access to affordable care. It also gives ClickMedix and Icarus an avenue to distribute their products in developing countries and opportunity to local ENT specialists to treat more patients.
“It’s really a social business – it’s not philanthropy,” said Medtronic representative Natalie Denis.