One of the many anecdotes told by 37-year-old doctors Dhruv Joshi and Dileep Raman is how their “smart ICU” equipment detected early indicators of oxygen levels dropping in a district hospital in Karnataka’s ICU.
Cloudphysician, a start-up formed by the two doctors in 2017, uses technology to send visuals and data from the ICU to a manned command centre, where intensivists and otherspecialists make swift decisions on treatment protocol.
“Oxygen pressure at the ICU had plummeted to a dangerous level, which our command centre staff picked up by monitoring the ventilators,” Joshi says of the oxygen crisis at the hospital ICU in April, during the second wave of Covid-19. The amount of oxygen provided to the patient was far less than what had been set.” Cloudphysician’s early warning “averted a possible mass famine.”
The technology fills a critical gap in the country’s healthcare system: a scarcity of trained ICU specialists like intensivists, pulmonologists, and anaesthetists, which the two doctors identified five years ago when they went to the United States to pursue their specialisations after graduating from medical schools in Bengaluru and Thrissur.
“While we were at Cleveland Clinic (Ohio), we were solving many of the problems associated with the shortage of specialist doctors. We were using technology to solve these problems. While doing so, we realised that this problem is much bigger in India,” says Joshi.
Hundreds of ICU ventilators donated to hospitals through the PM Cares initiative have reportedly gone unused due to a shortage of trained intensivists and ICU experts to operate the equipment.
“You must remember that a ventilator is a complicated machine. Once you get one, you need somebody to use it appropriately,” he says.