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3 IIT graduates build kiosks for those without access to doctors

mumbai Updated: Oct 15, 2016 00:10 IST
Musab Qazi
iit bombay

The founders said that the health ATMs have proven to be a success in rural areas.(Hindustan Times)

Three engineering graduates from Mumbai have developed kiosks that can dispense electronic medical diagnosis services.

Dhilly Babu and Shreyans Gandhi, who graduated from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B), and Arpit Mishra, a graduate from IIT Kharagpur, first came up the idea of a ‘health ATM’ on the lines of a bank automated teller machines, especially for areas with little access to healthcare facilities. So far, Yolo Health, the company established by the young entrepreneurs, has installed 18 such kiosks in different areas of the country, including two in Mumbai and one in Thane.

“Just like bank ATMs, the health ATMs provide primary-level services without having to go to a clinic. In majority of rural areas, there’s a dearth of doctors. The clinic-based model doesn’t work in most of these parts. Health ATMs not only provide basic diagnosis but also connect villagers to nearby doctors,” said Babu.

From basic health indicators such as blood pressure, body mass index (BMI) and fat and muscle percentage, to various blood and urine tests, as well as cardiac and respiratory check-ups, the kiosks are equipped with tools and sensors to perform the primary diagnosis, whose reports are generated instantly. For further diagnosis, the patients can be connected top a doctor through video-conferencing. A full-time attendant, who could be a community worker or a para-medic, assists patients.

In order to establish a wide network of their services, the young engineers have joined hands with various corporate firms and state governments, that provide the funding and infrastructure to install these kiosks. They also tie-up with local hospitals, whose doctors remain available for telemedicine and authenticating the diagnostic reports. While the general health check-up is provided free of cost, more advanced tests are charged.

The founders said that the health ATMs have proven to be a success in rural areas. “Every day, around 40-50 patients visit the kiosks. While availability of electricity is an issue, the kiosk doesn’t require much power. In fact, a single Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) unit can run one kiosk. Most of the tests are done offline and uploaded on the cloud whenever internet connectivity is available,” said Gandhi, who recently did his PhD in biomedicine from IIT-B.

Yolo has installed a few kiosks in corporate offices in Mumbai and Bangalore as well. Gandhi said that they are aimed at people in urban areas who are prone to lifestyle diseases like diabetes, blood pressure and heart ailments. However, he added, initially most of the people would visit these kiosks out of curiosity.

Yamini Poojari, who had come for a general health check-up at a Yolo health ATM in a corporate office in Parel, said that she got to know about the service through an email from her company. “I wanted to check my blood pressure. But I realised that I have put on some weight,” she said. Aniket Thakur, the attendant at the kiosk, said that around 15 people visit the facility every day.