Doctors who come in contact with COVID-19 patients are at the highest risk of infection with the virus. Personal protective equipment (PPE) including face masks, face shields and full body gowns help them in preventing the infection. The doctors are required to wear a fresh PPE for their shift and discard them afterward. Given the large number of PPE required, it is not surprising that these are in short supply.
At the beginning of the pandemic, some doctors were reported to be using helmets as face masks to protect themselves while screening COVID-19 patients. Subsequent reports mentioned that the Indian Government had ordered 15 million PPE kits including face masks and gowns from China. The apparel industry also chipped in and declared that they were gearing up to start local production of PPE kits.
The shortage of PPE has resulted in the tragic death of many doctors and nursing staff taking care of COVID-19 patients. Going by the trends in the USA, UK and other countries where several hundred doctors and care-givers lost their lives to the pandemic, this has become a great cause for concern. With the rising rate of infections and death in India in spite of lock-down that entered the third phase on 3rd March, there is greater urgency for solutions to protect the healthcare professionals, especially who are screening COVID patients.
Ayu Devices, a start-up from BETIC (Biomedical Engineering and Technology Innovation Centre) of IIT Bombay responded to the challenge by developing a smart COVID OPD (Out Patient Department) booth. It contains two air-conditioned chambers – one for the doctor and one for the patient with a glass barrier in between, and a two-way communication system. The doctor checks the patient using a smart stethoscope developed by the start-up, which allows listening, recording and transmitting chest sounds over wireless networks without touching the patient.
The booth also contains a temperature gun, pulse oximeter and swab-taking provision for screening the patients. Contactless automatic sanitizer disposing machines are placed outside the separate entrances for doctors and patients. The smart OPD booth is also equipped with a disinfection system to sanitize the room after every patient has been screened, to prevent cross-contamination between patients.
Adarsha K, CEO Ayu Devices elaborates —
It was Dr Rangnath Jhawar, who identified the need for a smart, safe and portable booth to screen and diagnose Covid-19 patients. The booth was designed by Dr. Rangnath Jhawar, Dr. Durwesh Kadri and Mr. Shrishail Hamine, of Krea Design Solutions. They shared the concept with Sevak Trust, an NGO, who stepped forward under the guidance of Dr. Vidya Mane, Medical Superintendent of HBT Trauma Care Municipal Hospital. The team deployed the first Smart COVID OPD booth at the same hospital, and is continuously improving, manufacturing and deploying similar booths in other hospitals.
In addition to the HBT Trauma Care Municipal Hospital, the Smart COVID OPD booth is now deployed at many other hospitals across the city including Cama Hospital, Sion Hospital, JJ Hospital, St. George’s and Rajawadi Hospital. Many donors such as Money Life Foundation have pitched in to support this initiative. The fact that Ayu Devices is already a trusted name in the diagnostics space, improved the acceptance of the smart OPD.
More than 1000 smart stethoscopes of Ayu Devices are in use across the country, many of them in primary health centres in rural areas and telemedicine firms. Many doctors are checking COVID-19 patients using the stethoscope since it transmits data from the stethoscope to a mobile or laptop via Bluetooth. The data can be shared with other doctors for analysis, thereby distributing the workload.
“The smart OPD booth is an excellent example of multi-disciplinary collaboration and all-round cooperation in this period of crisis. The booth increases the efficiency of screening COVID-19 patients while minimizing the risk of infection to doctors. It can also be deployed in shopping malls, housing societies, offices and schools to halt the spread of this pandemic.” adds Dr Rupesh Ghyar, SEO of BETIC, who mentored Adarsha and his team.
Team members of Ayu Devices include Adarsha K, Ninad Kambli, Shashank Chaurasia, Srikant Mishra, Amey Haldankar, Hassan Kumar Gundu and Vishesh Sinha.
The smart stethoscope module called AyuLynk converts conventional stethoscopes into digital stethoscopes, and allows wireless transmission. It was invented at BETIC, IIT Bombay in 2016 by Adarsha K, who gave up a cushy job in Larsen & Toubro to incubate his start-up company Ayu Devices in 2017.