• New Delhi
  • 5 May 2014
  • Features
  • By Maninder Sra

"Social innovation in healthcare is rising"

'Observe Design', a social innovation based start-up, located at Stanford India Biodesign, AIIMS, has come up with an innovative product to deal with hospital acquired infections. Here is a guest column from its co founder


About Author: Mr Maninder Sra is a bioengineer with an active interest in medical device innovation. He has been involved in multiple projects in the neonatal space focusing on birth asphyxia, neonatal-mother care and prevention of infectious diseases in NICU. He keenly follows the issues that healthcare workers experience at the ground level especially in developing countries.

How this start-up from Stanford India Biodesign is making hospital visits safer? In a short span of 200 years, medical science has come a long way from bulky tube based stethoscopes to robots as small as bacteria, swimming in your blood stream to identify and fix problems before they even become known to you. While medical science trots on verge of achieving immortality, India is still combatting public health problems such as tuberculosis, dengue, access to clean water, maternal and infant deaths and access to the most basic medical equipment.

Our nation of 1.25 billion people can hardly be called self reliant when it comes to healthcare devices with over seventy percent of all medical devices being imported into the country. Our so called indigenous products are merely low cost disposables or reverse engineered products that are stripped down of features to reduce costs. The Indian government spends valuable tax-payers money on purchasing exhorbitantly priced foreign medical devices that are not even suited for our healthcare settings and needs. The situation has created huge unmet need for affordable innovative medical devices for our resource constrained settings. Our medical device industry growing at 23 percent per year is a huge opportunity for healthcare innovators to " Innovate in India, Innovate for India".

There has been a remarkable paradigm shift in the last decade with social innovation in healthcare sector rising rapidly to the challenge of addressing the burning needs in healthcare. Programmes like the Stanford India Biodesign are addressing these challenges by training professionals from different backgrounds to solve the unmet needs of our healthcare system. The programme which runs at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences is structured to train professionals in identifying indigenous needs, coming with feasible solutions within various constraints and making their invention affordable, sustainable and scalable. Dr Balram Bhargava, executive director of the programme says that "We are trying to change the milieu of innovation in India through this initiative." The structure of the programme has rapidly caught on with a lot of institutes across the country, which are now following the model of Stanford India Biodesign in order to develop the medical device innovation ecosystem.


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