Lack of awareness, and general apathy, can sometimes lead to terrible complications for people on a course of medication for a chronic disease. Driven by his own experience, a young Computer Science student from Tamil Nadu has created a new solution to ensure that patients remember to take medications as prescribed, and avoid complications.
Ideas have a habit of striking through necessity! There was a time when Allan Das’s close relatives were badly affected by tuberculosis, and he had to go through a tiring process of procuring and delivering medicines for them. Through this experience, he found out that tuberculosis medication has to be taken daily, and the government organization DOT provides a weekly dose of medication in the form of pill sachets. Once the medication is over for the week, the patient needs to return the empty sachets of medicine and get new ones for the next week.
If the patient misses their medication consecutively for two days, then the tuberculosis bacteria become drug-resistant, and the entire three months’ medicine course goes down the drain. Many other chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, hypertension, stroke, arthritis, and anemia also require patients to take their pills on time.
That’s when the Computer Science student from Mount Zion College of Engineering, Tamil Nadu, decided to make something that will ensure medicines are taken on time—hence MEDBOX!
Passionate about robotics and automation since college days, Allan used to enjoy working with micro-controllers and find their application in the real world.
“I kept refining my idea and researching to reach a feasible solution. I started interacting with doctors and patients about what they felt about the issue at hand. Using suggestions from the stakeholders, I came up with this simple and effective idea. Once I had the architecture ready for my hardware and software product, I met with some experts in the fields of robotics, automation, cloud database, and mobile app development. I started speaking to my friends in tech companies, and within a week I was able to assemble a passionate team to work on the software and hardware solution,” he says.
Another smart move on his part was thinking through how almost everyone has a parent or a relative who is dependent on medication.
It would be easier to pilot the app with them and ask them how comfortable they felt making use of such a platform.
“We developed this solution for people in need of care and support, not ‘customers’. Former President Abdul Kalam is an inspiring icon and role model. His valuable words ‘Dream is not the thing you see in sleep but is that thing that doesn’t let you sleep’ hold true in my entrepreneurial journey. My passion to deliver the best doesn’t afford me the luxury of adequate sleep,” shares Allan.
“We were selected as one of the top 10 winners of the Code for the Next Billion by NASSCOM 10,000 Startups–Facebook–CNBC-TV18. One segment of the show was a research trip to an urban slum in Bangalore, where we could interact with the locals,” says Allan. When asked about the most memorable conversation around his idea, which made a difference, he shared how a nine-year-old boy, Arun, who heard him talk about his product, showed interest in buying it. He mentioned that his mother, who was a daily wage laborer, suffered with breathlessness and had to take medications every day.
“Though he did not know what disease she was suffering from, he knew that taking medication was important for her to stay healthy,” Allan adds.
“This experience touched me. It made me realize that good health should be for all, and not just for those who can afford it. MEDBOX can help mitigate and keep several chronic diseases under control. It can also help monitor the underprivileged so that they too can now stay in good health.”
As per the statistics published by the Government of India, two people die every three minutes due to tuberculosis. 25 % of the world’s MDR-TB cases are from India. Skipping medication is a major reason for death due to tuberculosis. WHO reports have confirmed that 50 % of the patients don’t comply with prescribed medications, ending up with other diseases. Also, as per a WHO survey, 33 % of the global population has some kind of chronic disease.
These patients occupy 60 % of the hospital beds and contribute up to 75 % of the medical industry’s revenue.
MEDBOX is a unique solution by Technovent Solutions, Allan’s brainchild that helps to store and monitor the patient’s drug intake. If the patient misses their pills, their doctors and relatives will get an alert so that they can take action.
Each MEDBOX is a mobile unit with a unique ID that notifies when the patient has taken his medications. It is equipped with sensors, micro-controllers, and a GPS unit. All the data that is fed in the patient’s mobile app is monitored by the doctor on the web. The medicine pill box shows an indicator light reminding the patient to take medicine as per schedule.
This solution is dependable, as it’s around 24×7; hygienic, as it doesn’t compromise on sanitation; customized, as each disease will have a different dosage pattern; wireless and portable; and, made with love.
For the last 18 months, Allan has been self-funding the product. At the moment, he is looking for support to expand and make MEDBOX available to the Indian markets. Since the product consists of a hardware component, Allan needs capital for the launch. He is hoping to start operations soon at Pune, Maharashtra.
“Our motto is simple—prevention is better than cure. Many people run into life-threatening complications because of the simple reason that they have not taken their pills on time. We want to save lives and the money of patients suffering with such chronic illnesses through MEDBOX,” says Allan.
It’s always possible to do it better, and especially with new technology, there are multiple ways to leverage ideas. That’s what Technovent is doing!
10,000 Startups is an initiative by NASSCOM to scale up the start-up ecosystem in India by 10x through incubation, funding, and support for 10,000 technology start-ups in India over the next 10 years. Submit your company/idea and apply for the 10k programme here.