The Hash Mag got into an exclusive interaction with Mr. Sanjeev Saxena, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, POC Medical Systems Inc., to know more about MammoAlert™, a breast cancer screening tool, and company's roadmap.
As we understand, MammoAlert™ provides an 82% reduction in healthcare costs and that's the main reason why the various States -Health Dept. has shown keen interest to implement MammoAlert™ as a breast cancer screening tool within the respective states. We would like to know more about your roadmap to implement this system across India.
As per the recent statistics from WHO, every second woman diagnosed with breast cancer in India succumbs to the disease & every seven minutes, we are losing one life to breast cancer. Breast cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers in women in India & various state governments are planning serious measures to control this critical problem. It has been amply clear that the fundamental issue is the unavailability of the screening tool, which can detect the disease early, is economical, accessible in the remotest corner of the country & is easy and reliable to use. And POC’s MammoAlert™ promises to suit the need.
During our launch event, Honourable Dr. Deepak Sawant, Health Minister, Maharashtra, commented, “In India, as per the current statistics, over 1.5 lakh women are diagnosed with the breast cancer and almost half of the deaths are reported every year. This innovation can help us save many precious lives and this technology brings cancer screening within the reach of a common man, which is a big goal for the government.”
We have received an excellent response from various states’ health department and they have shown a keen interest in utilizing the technology in their cancer control program. We are planning to launch our product in the Indian market in next couple of months.
POC is planning to spread its wings across India in a state-wise manner for effective implementation of the cancer control program.
Would you like to elaborate on the platform on which MammoAlert™ is based and how useful it is?
The Pandora CDx™, developed by POC Medical Systems, is a microfluidic platform for rapid and point-of-care blood screening. It is based on a unique and low-cost disposable microfluidic DISK. This easy to use platform runs on Pandora CDx™ technology that uses a simple drop of blood to generate results in 20 minutes. It uses multiple cancer markers for high accuracy. The Pandora CDx™ has a very high sensitivity and specificity which implies high accuracy and almost zero false positive results.
In simple words, POC Medical Systems has developed a lab in a box, which looks like and functions like a CD/DVD player. It consists of four major modules:
- A CD player size instrument
- A microfluidics DISK where a reaction takes place between the blood and the reagents
- The chemistry with various reagents that are already prepared and loaded on the DISK, hence no human interaction is needed, except for loading of a blood.
- The software that records and analyses the data and delivers an automated test report
Hence, the instrument, which runs on the rechargeable batteries, can be taken to any village, or in any neighbourhood, and can be run in any lab or doctor’s clinic with minimal or no training.
The way it works is as follows:
- The lab technician or operator enters patient’s information on a tablet
- Pricks the patient's finger with a lancet
- Applies the blood to the inlet in the disc where the blood need be inserted
- Selects the test and presses ‘Enter’
- Then the test is performed. The results are displayed and printed in 20 minutes
- The DISK is then removed from the Pandora CDx™ and disposed of.
What steps are you taking to make it available in the rural parts of the country? Also, family support is what makes any woman stronger. Do you think there is a need for younger men also to get aware of this situation and such systems to build a stable support system for women in their family?
Generally, people do not have access to diagnostics in the rural areas due to cost and accessibility issues. The idea is to provide low-cost solutions to those needed. But, reaching the nooks & corners of India is a challenging task, and we are looking forward to active support from government & NGOs for the same.
We are planning various communication activities to reach out to the masses. Be it Nukkad Natak (Street plays) or awareness through radio, billboards, seminars & workshops. We are not only planning to conduct workshops for the ladies but also their respective husbands and sons. The idea is to make everyone aware of the gravity of the situation & the possible solution. We wish to kill the fear of cancer, as early detection = faster cure, lesser cost of care & less mortality.
POC has been developing technology to strengthen the healthcare system and enhance the disease-fighting capabilities, according to you what kind of government support is required to take such innovations to the grassroots level?
MammoAlert™ has received a lot of appreciation from the Health Minister of Maharashtra & other dignitaries. Speaking on MammoAlert™ Honourable Smt Amruta Fadnavis, said, “I am extremely proud and feel honored to be part of a movement to promote an early screening of breast cancer. I would like to congratulate POC Medical Systems for its commitment towards making cancer screening accessible and affordable." She especially stressed on the ‘Shame’ aspect. In her words, “Till now women had to go through the humiliation of exposing herself to get tested for ‘Breast Cancer’, which was one of the biggest deterrence in India. With ‘MammoAlert™, now women can get screened with the help of simple blood test”.
What's your view on digital healthcare and how it can transform the overall healthcare system in this country?
Digital health is a convergence of digital technologies with healthcare to enhance the effectiveness of healthcare access and delivery. It uses the technology, information and communication tools to help address the critical health problems and challenges faced by the community & patient population, for e.g. a) Cost & b) Accessibility to reliable technology. Digital technologies include hardware, software solutions & services like telemedicine, web-analytics, e-mail, mobile phones and various applications, text messages, e-clinics and remote monitoring sensors.
With MammoAlert™, we have developed a disruptive technology that allows medical diagnostics to be brought to common people across countries and especially in villages through a distributed, but connected ‘Point of Care’ model using a ‘Lab in a Box’ in the form of a microfluidics CD. We are at the intersection of MedTech and digital health with a big data component. The results from MammoAlert™ are delivered to a mobile device through our app and are also uploaded to the cloud. The physician can receive results remotely and make the immediate decision about the next steps. This will allow critical access to screening for millions of women worldwide.
The Pandora CDx™ ‘Point-of-Care’ System, over the period, will enable the patient screening for life-threatening illnesses including different types of cancers (e.g. Prostate, Oral, Cervical), Malaria, Tuberculosis, and Cardiac Disorders. POC’s goal is to help save millions of lives through early stage screening and detection, and in turn, significantly reduce medical treatment costs.
What's your roadmap ahead?
As informed earlier, we are about to launch our test for breast cancer screening in next couple of months’ time. However, moving ahead, we expect to develop low-cost tests for other cancers, such as prostate, ovarian, cervical, lung, and liver, etc. Besides, we expect to develop tests for cardiac disease screening and infectious diseases, such as TB, typhoid, dengue, STDs, Ebola, and etc.
Also, there is a plan to develop tests for water-borne pathogens and food tests. I would like to specially mention that, we expect all these tests to be low-cost tests.