A mobile connected device offers quick and easy tests for diabetes, congestive heart failure and chronic kidney disease. The story began when Sidhant Jena, an MBA student at Harvard Business School, met Michal Depa and AJ Kumar, both graduate scholars from MIT, at an MIT Volunteer Research Group which was working on a challenge posed by Dr Devi Shetty, a reputed Indian cardiac surgeon and a pioneer in using tech for accessing healthcare.
Sidhant Jena, Co-founder & CEO, Jana Care
Dr. Shetty had asked if students could build a smartphone app that could be used by health workers in remote corners of India to screen for oral cancer and cardiovascular diseases. This was in 2009 when Android (a mobile operating system developed by Google) had just been launched.
Their prototype Aina, became one of the largest chronic disease screening programmes in the world and eventually led to the trio setting up Jana Care, a medical R&D company to make mobile diagnostic devices for screening, monitoring and managing chronic medical conditions. Founded in 2009, the company consists of an interdisciplinary team of engineers, designers, medical professionals and behavioral scientists.
“The healthcare industry and society around us are moving towards a digital world, and so it just makes sense for innovators like us to bring the digital transformation into diagnostics as well.”- Sidhant Jena, Co-founder & CEO, Jana Care
Working with a partner, Jana Care screened 50,000 people for diabetes (HbA1c tests) at the Kumbh Mela 2019 in Prayagraj. The event is one of the largest religious pilgrimages in the world and millions of practicing Hindus congregate for a dip at the confluence of 3 sacred rivers.
Incubated at the Bangalore Bioinnovation Centre, this cutting-edge company is working towards “bringing digital transformation into diagnostics,” says Jena. “While a traditional diagnostic laboratory could take up to 48 hours to provide test results, the Aina device can email and SMS the test report to patients immediately after running the test.”
Aina’s growing menu of tests includes HbA1c, NT-proBNP, blood glucose, lipid profile and hemoglobin. The entire process takes less than 5 minutes and unfolds as follows: a paper-based test strip collects blood from the patient and is fed into the device, which further reads the signals and connects to your smartphone to merge into a seamless diagnostic platform. Finally, biomarker data from the Aina is used to deliver personalized care plans to patients through a digital coaching programme called Habits.
What causes this handy device to stand out is its affordability and efficiency, making it a potential game-changer in the field of diagnostics and disease management, both globally as well as in the country. The Aina station comes with integrated patient registration and check-in, connected cloud-based EMR (Electronic Medical Records) and a doctor app for a comprehensive healthcare experience. Moreover, the costs of the expensive equipment and capital-intensive manufacturing associated with laboratories are reduced drastically, paving the way towards sustainable, small-scale diagnosis facilities.
The integrated Habits app is a valuable component of the Aina device, helping patients reach their diet and exercise goals through personalized daily checklists including tips, tasks, lessons and quizzes.
In a testament to its acclaim, Jana Care has raised around US$10 million in venture capital funding and grants since its inception. It is all set to launch serum creatinine testing later this year.