Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) had been tiptoeing for a while with ideas about developing technology-driven products for personal healthcare and for use in rural India. The portable cardiac device emerged from this broad-gauge thinking, with particular focus on what has become a deadly health condition in India and many other parts of the world.
TCS found out that two of the main reasons heart patients in India suffer is that their access to doctors is limited, and they lack continual and detailed information about their health. This could be addressed, they reckoned, by providing an accessible and affordable personal healthcare service with wireless connectivity.
TCS was betting that mobile handsets and sensors within devices could usher in a transformational shift in the way personal health is monitored, independent of location and time.
The portable cardiac device created by TCS's project development team is small in size — just 16cm x 8.5cm x 3cm — but it packs a big punch with its capabilities to monitor, record, display, store, print and analyse heart-function signals and transmit electrocardiogram data wirelessly, all in a single integrated package.
The device can also transmit remotely accessed data — to a physician or a hospital — through short messaging. It can, in an emergency, be directly hooked to a patient's chest; two electrodes collect electrocardiograms, detect anomalies and raise an alert. The TCS project team believes that future device variants can aggregate various other remotely accessible health data and be integrated with hospital management systems.
The potential in TCS's product is plainly evident. There is no comparable heart-monitoring device available in the market with such features along with portability, affordability, and wireless data-transmission capability. Besides, the concept is extendable for the remote monitoring of other critical health parameters.
The device and what it offers have yet to find traction. The reasons for this: the medical devices market is new and untried for TCS; it could not be carried through the clinical-trials phase; and it could not draw interest from potential manufacturers.
The portable cardiac device is all about potential and promise to impact rural healthcare. What it has done is bring indirect business to TCS by way of new projects and new clients who were previously unaware of the company's product-engineering skills. It has also demonstrated TCS's embedded-engineering capabilities.
TCS has crafted an indigenous healthcare service model around this innovative offering, one that could have a positive impact on India's healthcare system. Significantly, it has captured the attention of government agencies and life sciences players with this endeavour from the heart.
Tata Consultancy Services was one of 13 award winners at the Tata Innovista 2011, the annually held celebration of creativity in the Tata group. Read about the other winners and the innovations that brought them to centre stage >>