Intravenous (IV) drips may be the most common medical device in a hospital and thousands across the country may have one stuck to them, but the retraction or the reverse flow of blood in the IV drip can cause panic among patients and their by-stander. Even more alarming is the fact that an irregular dosage can be fatal for a patient already suffering from life-threatening diseases.
It was during a visit to a friend in the hospital when Vishnu MS, then a student of the National Institute of Design (NID) came up with the idea of Dripo- a product that regulate and monitor IV drips. “Dripo is a smart assistant for IV therapy,” shares Sanjai Rajendran, one of the founding members of Evelabs Technologies that produces the product along with Vishnu MS and Sruthy Gopal.
“During his visit, Vishnu noticed that his friends’ IV drip got over and a retraction of blood flow caused panic in the room. For his final year project in NID, Vishnu decided to create a smart IV therapy system. He visited many hospitals as part of his project and realised that there was an urgent need for a regulator device to monitor the administration of intravenous drips .”
What started off as a college project, led to forming of the company Evelabs Technologies by three electrical and electronic engineering graduates. “After completing our engineering we three took a different career path. I did my masters in electrical and electronic engineering, Vishnu joined NID and Sruthy went on to pursue journalism. We came together when Vishnu proposed the idea of our own venture in 2015,” expresses Rajendran.
Initially, they had to face a lot of difficulty in terms of design, functionality and accuracy, but the medical fraternity has been a pillar of support for these engineers. Rajendran says, “Since none of us are from the medical background, we did face initial problems, but our biggest supporters have been the medical practitioners. They have guided us in every step to improve the product and its functionality.”
Their product Dripo detects real-time drop rates and helps the nurse to set it accurately. Talking about the need for such product in the medical segment, Rajendran points out, “There is a wide gap between patient- nurse ratio in our country. Each nurse can not practically monitor the IV rate of every patient. Our product Dripo comes handy in such scenario.”
The smart device gives an alert to the nurse when there is a rate change, completion or block in the IV. “This device helps in ensuring there is zero margin of error as improper administration of drips can lead to many problems,” says Rajendran. The product comes in two variants – standalone and WiFi enabled. The standalone variant only sends an alert via an alarm if there is any irregularity in the drip, whereas the WiFi variant will provide real-time data at the nurses’ station and can be used as a record for future reference.
Elaborating on the product functionality, Rajendran says, “We have developed a connected infusion monitor, which will count the drops and calculate real-time drop rate. It also has a fine flow regulator to adjust the fluid flow, so that the nurse can set rate precisely and easily.”
According to Rajendran, their product improves clinical efficiency, safety and patient experience in hospital and home care compared to the existing products in the market and cost only one sixth of it. He says, “Most of the infusion take place in gravity, we also have infusion pumps – a pumping mechanism that pumps the liquid in a peristaltic process that can be installed in gravity drips.”
Talking about the need to go digital, Rajendan says the startup’s product provides better and safer care. “The device is WiFi enabled, thus all the data can be easily accessed in the nurses station. Generally, a nurse has to check the flow of the drip manually every now and then. Now, she can monitor multiple patients at a given time. Any variation in the functioning of the drip will be notified by the device via the software programme that is provided at the nurse’s station,” says Rajendran.
The device can also send data to a central hub installed at the nursing station, where rate change and completion of every course will be alerted. The hub is also a smart infusion chart, where the status of every ongoing and upcoming infusion and the patient histories will be shown. Doctors can also view the patient history and treatment status from the server and can make informed decisions based on the data.”
The team developed the digital drip monitor using the initial seed fund of Rs 50 lakh from Birac, a Biotechnology ignition grant. “We will receive another Rs 50 lakh grant from Birac after reaching the milestone of making our device fully automatic that can control the flow through a motor. We are trying to incorporate the working of the motorised pump in the same form as most of the infusion pumps are bulkier and cannot be portable,” shares Rajendran. The startup has moved to the Maker Village in Kochi with an aim to connect with the right kind of funders.
Capturing the right market is one of the key challenges in front of the team. Rajendran signs off by stating that they want to introduce Dripo in the home healthcare segment where the infusion takes place at the house of the patient. “Apart from hospitals and clinics we want our product to be used in home care too.
It will help the patient and ensure that the correct dosage is provided at the right time, especially for patients undergoing treatments like chemotherapy. Currently, you get an infusion pump in the market which are very expensive, whereas Dripo comes in one sixth of its price, making it much more accessible.”