Anidra: Continuous Remote Patient Monitoring for Improved Healthcare

Dr Venki Balasubramanian suffered a personal loss in 2006 that set him on the path to entrepreneurship in the HealthTech industry. His father’s demise due to lymphoma that year got him interested in understanding how remote patient monitoring wearable sensors work. He realised that if doctors had continuously monitored his father’s oxygen saturation—one of the vital parameters in the human body—they might have diagnosed cancer as the suspected malady. Dr Balasubramanian also chose ‘remote patient monitoring using wearable sensors’ as the focus area of his Ph.D research in 2007.

A decade later in 2016, Dr Balasubramanian founded Anidra, along with his colleague, Prof. Andrew Stranieri. Anidra is a startup dedicated to leveraging cutting-edge technologies to save lives in cost-effective ways. The Anidra Group is an Australian-Indian consortium that provides smart remote patient monitoring solutions that can proactively identify a patient’s deteriorating health.

Anidra: A solution that every patient needs

The founders, Dr Balasubramanian and Prof. Stranieri conducted an independent market research study that factored in the views of over 200 clinicians and data from the Indian government and WHO to validate the startup’s basic premise. According to WHO, over half a million Indian patients die in hospitals and ambulances due to a lack of skilled nurses, a shortage of doctors and delays in emergency transportation. Amidst these challenges, the patient’s health condition often goes unmonitored and deteriorates to the point of no return.
The research findings inspired the founders to design the Anidra Remote Monitoring Solution that remotely monitors all the five vital signs in the human body: blood oxygen, temperature, respiratory rate, blood pressure and heart rate. The product monitors the parameters in real-time, enabling doctors to receive alerts if they go beyond the allowed thresholds.
The founders chose the name Anidra for the startup as it means ‘awake’ and ‘sleepless’ in Sanskrit. The name carries significance for the startup’s technology as the entity aims to stay ‘awake’ always and continuously monitor patients in real-time. The startup is bootstrapped, and USD 250,000 of the founders’ personal savings has been invested into the company. The team is exploring seed-funding opportunities to further expand into India and Australia. To date, Anidra has partnered with three clinics that use its device. The startup’s primary client is the Indian army (DRDO and CRPF) that uses Anidra’s solutions for its motorcycle Rakshita Ambulance.

Target the right audience

Anidra services the following key target segments:

  1. Hospitals with real-time remote patient monitoring systems
  2. Homecare and ambulance
  3. Homecare and clinics

The startup’s revenue model maps to the three customer segments. The second segment has an option to pay for services through EMIs. The company supplies the device, along with its local monitoring app, to the third segment to enable doctors and patients to record the vital signs offline and send the readings via WhatsApp or email.

Revolutionary products that save lives

Following the successful research clinical trial that was conducted, Dr Balasubramanian partnered with his colleague and senior researcher Prof. Andrew Stranieri to establish the Australia-based startup. The founders envisioned the company to be a pioneer in building innovative remote/ isolated patient monitoring solutions with a strong thrust on R&D and affordability. The cutting-edge wearable technology equipped with intelligent next-generation alarms is a path-breaking solution to the age-old problem of monitoring the early signs of a patient’s deteriorating health.

Anidra’s products include hardware and pre-configured software comprising health data analytical algorithms that continuously collect vital physiological data in an automated manner. These include:

Remote Monitoring Solution:

This product is designed for doctors to view a patient’s vital signs, blood oxygen, saturation, blood pressure, body temperature, breath rate, ECG and heart rate, continuously in real-time from anywhere in the world. It’s a cost-effective, portable and easy-to-use medical-grade CE 0123 and TGA Australia-certified device to monitor patients in isolated care. The Anidra solution raises AI-based notifications, developed by Australian researchers, to identify the deteriorating health condition of patients. The technology alerts doctors to take appropriate action before the condition becomes complicated. Thus, the solution saves lives and time.

Ward Telemetry Solution:

This product is designed for doctors within the hospital to monitor the patients’ vital signs in real-time continuously.

Ambulatory Care Solution:

This product is designed for patients at home. It enables nurses, doctors or family members to monitor the patient’s vital signs remotely in real-time

Anidra to India’s aid during the pandemic

Several reasons prompted the founders to target India as a core market for their innovative HealthTech solutions.

Dr Balasubramanian and Prof. Stranieri were convinced that India’s high population density will be a determining factor for a potential healthcare crisis in the country. The startup’s clinical trials and in-depth market research study identified nearly half-a-million patients in India dying unnecessarily in the country’s hospital system due to multiple factors, such as the lack of a proper monitoring system, delays in emergency transportation, severe shortfall of doctors in government hospitals and the doctors’ busy schedules.  Besides, studies also indicated that it’s important to observe patients’ vital signs every 4-6 hours, otherwise, 70 per cent of patients could deteriorate between observations, leading to emergency treatment or even death. Further, 20 per cent of patients deteriorate in home care after a hospital visit.

Anidra offered its revolutionary solutions to hospitals, clinics, ambulances and home care patients during the pandemic. The startup’s best-in-class products saved lives when India’s healthcare infrastructure was crumbling due to the rising COVID-19 cases. The pandemic presented Anidra with a unique opportunity to find effective and affordable solutions to India’s overwhelming healthcare problems. For instance, during the pandemic, the concept of remote/isolated monitoring of patients has gained currency. This practice has given a fillip to Anidra’s tech-led solutions. The startup has also been able to move ahead of the curve in the current market situation in India.

Challenges faced as an entrepreneur

According to Dr Balasubramanian, Anidra faced market entry challenges as it’s a pioneer in remote patient monitoring. Unfortunately, the market was not ready to adapt to the startup’s advanced technology in early 2016, although hospitals could have done so to improve healthcare outcomes for patients. The founders modified the product offerings to suit the market needs at the time, hoping to build long-term relationships with their customers.

The challenging period taught the startup to be flexible, adaptable and nimble to ensure it laid the foundation to scale.

The roadmap for the future

Anidra aims to create predictive algorithms for various conditions, such as arrhythmia, COVID-19 and sepsis deterioration. Also in the pipeline is an AI-led telemedicine platform to usher in the next-generation healthcare ecosystem in India.

Further, after focusing on building foolproof products for the past three years, Anidra is now ready to promote and market its solutions. The startup has engaged a digital marketing agency and designed an appropriate marketing strategy through T-Hub and its vast ecosystem of mentors.

Dr Balasubramanian sums up the good, the bad and the ugly of his entrepreneurial experiences to date:

Good – if you believe in an idea and feel that it will help the masses, go for it! When the requirement comes, your startup will be noticed.

Bad – Get rid of the bad apples in your startup quickly – they make the whole team weak. Make sure to partner with the right people.

Ugly – Don’t trust everyone—not even your friends.