A tablet that’s also a mini lab for doctors


12 Jan 2012
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A tablet that’s also a mini lab for doctors

Imagine a cutting edge software - a tablet computer and an Android phone rolled into one - that works as a diagnostic tool for multiple activities like conduct ECG, measure heart rate, test quality of water and also take body temperature.

Swasthya Slate ( Health Tablet) - a first-of-its-kind diagnostic tool - created by a US-returned Indian biomedical engineer Kanav Kahol will not only perform all these tasks but will also test blood pressure and blood sugar on the spot.

Kahol, who has worked with Nobel laureate Dr Lee Hartwell at the University of Arizona's Biodesign Institute on creating "persuasive technology," said the slate will now help auxillary nurse midwives (ANMs) and accredited Social health activists (ASHAs) working in far-flung villages to diagnose diseases on the spot. Swasthya Slate is likely to be rolled out in the next three months.

Kahol, who is working for the Public Health Foundation of India, said, "Earlier , we had estimated it would cost $1.8 million, and take about three years to create. However, we completed it in three months at a cost of only $11,000."

The software verification and validation has shown that "our readings on the software are 99.94% accurate . We can store the information on a local file which can be uploaded onto a server. A demographic system has also been developed to store the patient's detail."

"At present, when ANMs or ASHAs visit villages, they have to take people to the primary health centres to get tested. Hence, they wanted something that enabled them to make decisions and deliver better quality care on the spot. Empowering them with Swasthya Slate, the on-the-spot recommendation system and guidance by physicians through the phone/videoconferencing will allow healthcare workers to monitor population health and also identify high-risk cases that need immediate care," said Kahol.

The device can capture ECG data at 1,000 Hz, providing with enough information to make clinical judgements . "Our software and hardware prototype cost is only Rs 7,000, excluding the cost of the Android device. In high volumes, the device cost will dip greatly," he added.

Over the next three months, he will create an interface for blood pressure and blood sugar machines to the device, and also incorporate diabetes and cardiovascular screening software.

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