According to a survey, 70-80% of clinical decisions require lab reports and on an average, two tests are prescribed per patient. However, the entire process is still dependent on the access to pathology labs and trained pathologists. In their absence, health professionals often resort to empirical decision making or ‘gut feelings’ for treatment, leading to massive misuse of antibiotic prescriptions.
Although point of care devices (POC) continue to foray into underserved locations, they’re limited by recurring cost and minimal options. Microscopy continues to be a crucial component for pathology labs to inspect body fluids in order to detect infections and identify cellular abnormalities. However, primary and secondary care in the country faces an acute shortage of manpower and trained pathologists; with only 1 pathologist serving approx. 65K people in the country. This shortage has led to the proliferation of many unlicensed labs and personal operations in the market. On the other hand, pathology labs are majorly concentrated in urban areas and far from reach of the rural population. It is therefore important to address these massive gaps in the healthcare delivery system.
We’re observing a paradigm shift in pathology with the growing acceptance of digital microscopes over optical ones – given the ability to instantly store and share images from a remote primary healthcare set-up with a pathologist sitting in an urban setting. It is also easier to train the lab technicians in digital microscopes and the solution reduces the time taken for diagnosis by enabling better clarity of the images.
Cilika, a digital microscopy solution developed by MedPrime Technologies, aims to facilitate telepathology in low resource settings where both infrastructure and human resources are limited. For example, patients in Melghat in the Amravati district of Maharashtra have to travel about 100 km to get tests done. Additional costs incurred due to travel and wage loss often discourage them from availing diagnostic conditions, thereby often exacerbating their medical conditions due to lack of timely treatment. Cilika will allow pathologists to remotely analyse the test reports for patients living in Melghat without the hassle of transporting or storing the sample slides which will turn out to be quite cost-effective in the long term.
ACT For Health will support MedPrime in generating evidence for tele-pathology use cases by deploying Cilika devices in various CHC’s, rural hospitals, NGOs across India with the aim of decentralising such healthcare services.