March 21, 2013

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Smart Heart Care Application

A few days back, I learned that one of my neighbors had passed away of sudden cardiac arrest. He had been a heart patient for the past few years, and this incident, which happened when he was alone at home, came as a shock to his family. Had there been a way to notify a doctor in time, even when no one was around him at the time of attack, could have saved his life. This triggers me to think how easy or difficult it would be to have a smart heart care application in this era of new age communication and smart devices, where such care can be made available anytime, anywhere.

Let’s imagine an application that runs on a smartphone to receive the continuous heartbeat rate of the user, and as soon as an abnormal rate is detected, a message is sent to the nearest hospital and to family members. Such a quick response can serve the need of the hour. It is also well known that the sooner patients are admitted to the hospital and given the necessary treatment, the higher the chances are of survival while lowering the risks of long-term implications.

An estimated 17 million people die of cardiovascular diseases, particularly heart attacks and strokes, every year. Stroke is the third most common cause of death in developed countries, exceeded only by coronary heart disease and cancer. That shows the huge need for such an application, which not only has a good market but also has the ability to save valuable lives.

It can be deduced from the above figures that the penetration levels of smart phones in the prevalent age groups affected by heart disease is reasonable, and this would reduce any doubts about the application’s market reach.

Also, a complete new business model can be worked around this. Considering that users of such an app are most likely to be heart attack conscious, with the users’ permission and by abiding to all medical privacy laws, the data of the registered subscriber base can be shared with health, life insurance companies and hospitals. Linking patients, hospitals and insurance companies could be a mutually valuable proposition. The features can further be extended around this basic idea to effectively cater to those needs. One such a feature could be to send a voice message to emergency numbers like ambulance as needed, along with the patient’s location details with the help of GPS.

There are some heartbeat measuring apps available in the market, but none has the functionality of continuous monitoring and anomaly identification and intimation. “Instant Heart Rate” is one such Android app, through which the heart rate will be shown by placing the tip of the index finger on the phone’s camera. It cannot meet the need of continuous monitoring, and moreover it doesn’t have the capability to communicate any anomalies.

There are some constraints associated with the implementation of this idea. There are some devices (wristband or wristwatch- like devices) that can read the heart rate of the user and transmit it to the smartphone. So, the market reach of this application has its dependency over such devices, as the input needs to be fed from that device. This means the application’s market entry can be in the form of a bundled service, to include both the application and the heart rate detecting device, offering better penetration. Also the feasibility of the algorithm/criteria to be used to indicate the medical condition and approvals from appropriate governing bodies for algorithms/criteria would stand as other important implementation challenges.

But looking at the huge market need, size and the way the idea can address this need, it brings out a positive outlook on the potential business opportunity, besides the ability to save valuable lives.For more information regarding HCL Tech's medical service offerings, visit this section today.

References:

  1. Deaths From Stroke- WHO, Available From: www.who.int/cardiovascular.../cvd_atlas_16_death_from_stroke.pdf

  2. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics — 2009 Update, American Heart Association, Available From: www.nanocorthx.com/Articles/HeartDiseaseStrokeStatistics.pdf

  3. SMARTPHONE USERS AROUND THE WORLD - STATISTICS AND FACTS [INFOGRAPHIC], Available From: http://ahmadfaizar.blogspot.in/2012/07/smartphone-users-around-world.html

  4. Instant Heart Rate Android Application, Available From: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=si.modula.android.instanth...