Mukesh Patel, a 71-year-old retired stockbroker, has been suffering from diabetes and hypertension for over 10 years. He has been prescribed a list of medications, insulin shots as well as regular exercise, but in between his visits to the doctor, the widowed septuagenarian is all by himself—his children are settled in the US.
Clearly, he runs the risk of forgetting and mixing up his pills. Neither does he have a dependable system to track his treatment and the progress he is making.
If it weren't for an app his son installed on his phone, that is!
Run by SmarterHealth TechServe Pvt. Ltd, the BetterConnect+ app allows healthcare professionals and doctors to set goals for their patients, keep track of the prescribed treatment and provides alerts to better manage care.
The founder of the company, Sanjeev Jha, struck upon the idea when his father was diagnosed with hypertension. Jha’s father often measured his blood pressure and his reading always fell in the 190/110 zone, which he thought was standard. Normal blood pressure reading is 120/80.
Bootstrapped by Jha, the firm was initially launched in October 2015 as Smarter Clinics. Almost a year later, Smarter Clinics became BetterConnect+, with a focus on chronic care management. Currently, it provides services for diabetes and blood pressure, but the platform can be customised for any disorder.
Patients can use the app to keep track of the goals their doctors set for them. For example, if a patient’s current blood pressure is 190/110, the goal can be to reduce it to 120/80 in the next three months. The rationale is that chronic conditions can adversely affect an individual in the long run, even though a patient may feel fine in the short term.
The app also provides an add-on service where care managers, who are trained medical professionals, handle patients’ queries. For example, if the medicines a patient is taking are unsuitable, he or she can chat with the care manager and get the medication changed.
“Usually, doctors can only see the impact of the medicines they prescribe three months later. With our product, the complications can be figured out in real time, and everyone is on the same page,” says Jha.
Jha has more than a decade’s experience in healthcare research and consulting. One of his projects on cardiac care, Healthy Heart for All, was selected by Harvard Business Review.
Besides diabetes and blood pressure, BetterConnect+ provides patients of chronic diseases a fresh list of tasks every day. These activities are selected using artificial intelligence, taking into consideration the patient’s lifestyle. The system can also change the activities if a patient’s health improves.
“We would know their demography and lifestyle conditions. The system would be able to detect and identify future complications based on the basic information fed into it,” explains Jha.
BetterConnect+ has also integrated itself with hardware companies in the healthcare space, such as US-based iHealth, to seamlessly track vitals. When the iHealth device shows the value of blood sugar, the data is fed into the app and made available to the doctor and care manager. The system identifies if this value is normal or not, and accordingly raises an alarm.
The app also undertakes profile-matching, which identifies whether a patient with a particular disease is at risk of developing other complications.
“For diabetes patients, there are chances that they can have heart attack symptoms. These are called co-morbid conditions,” explains Jha.
The company is also looking to automate the process of goal-setting through a bot using natural language processing since goal-setting takes nearly 20 minutes to get configured for a new patient—a luxury that doctors do not have.
“Once we have significant amount of data and patient information, we would be looking to automate these goals. Similarly, we would be looking to automate the role of the caregiver as well,” said Jha. Once the bot becomes operational, 80-85% questions can be automated.
In the free version of the app, users can avail of basic health management services to keep track of their medications and get pill reminders. Users can also make use of a 30-day goal-setting trial, which gives them a set of tasks to do every day, such as yoga or a 30-minute walk. The app has around 100 registered users, which is 18-20% of the total downloads in the private beta mode. Until last week, it had 40 paid users. The company is also in the process of integrating fitness tracking apps on its platform.
Last year, Ankit Gomkale, a computer science graduate, joined the firm as co-founder and chief technology officer. The company currently has five full-time employees.
BetterConnect+ was previously part of Microsoft Accelerator and AIM Smart City Accelerator, which is supported by Ashoka University and Dalmia Bharat Group.
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