Understanding the Risks & Complications, TN Man's Timely Innovation Ensures Safe Pregnancy For Lakhs
Over the last two decades, 1.3 million women have died owing to pregnancy-related complications in India. Reports suggest that at least 75 women in India die preventable deaths due to pregnancy-related complications every day. In rural areas, because many health departments are short-staffed and workers are overextended, women are nearly three times more likely to die from complications during pregnancy or childbirth than those in more wealthy, urban areas.
Many women are still wary of the modern healthcare system and cannot afford to make frequent visits to far-off hospitals. In addition, government-appointed healthcare workers have been known to make up data instead of monitoring the health of pregnant women.
In 2016, Senthilkumar, the founder of JioVio Healthcare, traveled to the outskirts of Madurai, Tamilnadu, to visit his sister who was pregnant. Carrying her first baby, his sister would panic for every little development her body faced. She wanted to keep her growing baby healthy.
However, the village did not have well-equipped healthcare facilities, and the family had to travel with the pregnant mother to the city, for a doctor's visit. Senthil wanted to help in some way and ease the process for his sister. At the same time, he wanted her to stay healthy. So he came up with a simple idea that not only eased her anxieties but also ensured a safe delivery.
Today, his innovation – ‘Savemom’, a wearable maternal healthcare device saves the lives of pregnant women and newborn infants across 100 villages in India. The innovation has won several awards, recognitions, and grants.
A wearable innovation
Senthil, a graduate of Anna University began his career as a software engineer. Apart from this, he was also passionate about product building and engineering literature. Using his experience, Senthil began working on a device to monitor his sister’s vitals.
He met the gynaecologist and asked her about the vital parameters that need to be tracked during pregnancy. Next, he bought blood pressure and blood glucose measuring devices.
“I replaced their display screens with a blue chip that would SMS my sister’s readings to the doctor who would then evaluate them and message her back. The device was also modified to remind her to take the prescribed medicines, and supplements, and follow a good diet,” says Senthil.
This simple intervention saved his sister and family from multiple anxious visits to the hospital.
“She was my first experiment and after her positive pregnancy experience, it struck me how I could help many more women who had no access to healthcare facilities,” he says.
The same year, he went on to launch JioVio Healthcare to improve his device and bridge the gap between gynaecologists and pregnant women.
The device was optimized from its initial prototype to provide longer battery life and work as an offline app owing to poor internet connectivity in remote areas. Further, it was modified into a portable model smaller than a mobile phone with six IoT-based software to measure vitals.
The Savemom device monitors a mother’s health and collects various physiological signals – blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, respiratory rate, ECG, oxygen saturation, and glucose continuously from the mother. These signals are processed with advanced techniques, and a risk assessment is done continuously to ensure that she is healthy.
Further, these details are uploaded to the cloud for doctors to view remotely. Caregivers and doctors are alerted if any mother’s risk assessment is negative so that preventive measures can be taken at the right time.
Savemom has successfully addressed data manipulation malpractices which ensures timely visits from health workers.
Impacting lakhs of women
To date, the organization has innovated various devices. This includes Allowear/Allobaby: A unique jewelry-inspired wearable device, Allotricoder/AlloLab: a non-invasive device that captures vital information, and AlloGate/AlloDoc: a contactless screening solution specially designed to speed up the screening process in offices, public places, and hospitals.
Health camps for women
Seeing the potential of JioVio’s work, Dayananda Sagar Entrepreneurship Research and Business Incubation (DERBI) Foundation trusted and invested in the company. DERBI Foundation is an incubation center that creates a sustainable ecosystem for entrepreneurship through state of art technology support and business wisdom.
The foundation entrusted the prestigious HDFC CSR Grant to JioVio which helped to deploy the Savemom device in three districts across Tamil Nadu. During this project, over 300 women were monitored by specialists.
DERBI team always worked with JioVio and provided support to scale up business strategies. They offered technical advice, contact with government officials, and one-to-one mentoring.
JioVio has collaborated with local government agencies and NGOs for providing 1000 days of care to mothers and children. It covers 15 antenatal check-ups of the mother and post-natal care of the baby.
The devices have been deployed in more than 100 villages in southern states and benefited over 36,400 pregnant women. So far, up to 3 lakh ante-natal check-ups were conducted and 7320 high-risk cases have been identified.
Senthil says, “I can’t forget the day I held a baby boy weighing 3.1 kilograms born to a tribal woman in Wayanad early last year. It was the first time in decades that a woman had delivered a healthy baby there. The villagers were all so happy, singing and dancing while holding the baby, feeling its healthy weight.”