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Innovation in Healthcare: IOT-Enabled Tele-Ventilators to Fight Against the COVID-19 Pandemic
Following the announcement by ABM Respiratory Care, a Singapore-based medical device start-up, APBN interviewed Vinay Joshi, CEO of ABM Respiratory Care to gain further insight to the Tele-Ventilator which was created by ABM Respiratory Care and also understand the importance of innovation in times of a global pandemic. Innovation in Healthcare: IOT-Enabled Tele-Ventilators to Fight Against the COVID-19 Pandemic

1. What is the importance of innovation in healthcare in the current COVID-19 global pandemic?

Vinay Joshi: The current COVID-19 crisis has not only shocked the world but has sparked innovations in the healthcare industry. The role of technology and innovation is important in helping the strained healthcare systems in the short- and long-term. Also, due to the novel coronavirus, countries across the globe are not only grappling with the short supply of ventilators for patients with severe cases of COVID 19 but also a shortage of trained healthcare professionals to manage the large volume of ventilators when needed.

ABM's Tele-Ventilator, branded as BiWaze? ION, enables healthcare professionals to securely monitor and adjust ventilator settings through their online portal from any location. BiWaze? ION can be used in both Invasive and Non-Invasive modes, and can be deployed in an ICU, ambulatory or subacute settings for pediatric and adult patients. BiWaze? ION is a groundbreaking innovation and will play a key role especially in the present scenario where healthcare infrastructure is overburdened because of an unprecedented demand of demand-supply fall-out.

2. Could you share how the tele-ventilator works compared to conventional ventilators?

Vinay Joshi: Conventional ventilators allow an alarm to sound on a central nurse station. Following that, the staff has to physically walk over to the patient's bedside, understand the cause of the alarm from the ventilator monitoring screen and re-program the ventilator settings. This is not a feasible approach when handling a large number of ventilators, especially when 90 percent of the need is to monitor and adjust ventilator settings with change in patient condition.

On the other hand, BiWaze? ION allows multiple ventilators (which could be hundreds) to be monitored from a single dashboard within the same hospital location or remotely (anywhere across the world). The staff at central station can choose to manage any ventilator showing critical alarms; functioning and monitoring of ventilator is possible with a single touch without any lag. The underlying ABM technology makes these ventilators work out of the box without any complex configuration for connections or IT infrastructure and provide super-fast response even on low bandwidth network like mobile hotspots.

3. How will having the ability to remotely monitor and program ventilators assist healthcare professionals in their daily work?

Vinay Joshi: BiWaze? ION technology will not only improve the efficiency of healthcare professionals by working remotely on these ventilators if required but will save more lives with lesser staff. The technology is a breakthrough innovation in healthcare industry that will introduce a new paradigm shift in workflows needed for care of large number of patients in pandemic situation. Especially in the current COVID-19 situation when the virus is superlative infectious, the remote functionality of ventilators is a boon to front-line health staff and caregivers as it minimizes exposure to the virus.

4. With cutting-edge technology and innovation available, what will be the go-to-market strategy for new medical devices that will benefit healthcare professionals overcome the high demand amid the COVID-19 crisis?

Vinay Joshi: We are currently in the process of setting up two manufacturing lines, which will give us enough flexibility with supply chain and ability to scale up in restricted environments. We are currently in advanced discussions with our partners in India and rest of Asian markets as well as regulatory agencies to fast track approval for this platform which has been developed in last 30 months and already has one US FDA approved product. As pioneers in the field of AI-enabled remote ventilators, we feel we are in a very strong position to get emergency use approvals in short time under current guidance and be able to start placing our products in these markets in few weeks' time. We are also monitoring the ventilator fulfilment status in Europe and USA and if the supply gap persists, we will approach these markets as well.

5. Are there presently any plans for collaborations with healthcare institutions for ABM Respiratory Care to provide the tele-ventilators during the current COVID-19 crisis?

Vinay Joshi: We are in advanced stages of communication with multiple partners. As the launch is still few weeks away, we will start sharing information of our valuable collaborations with specific health institutions at the earliest.

6. Following the launch of the tele-ventilators what will be the next step to further improve and innovate the product to continue helping healthcare professionals?

Vinay Joshi: We strongly believe that this technology will be a game changer in a post COVID-19 world too, especially given the fact that respiratory diseases are leading causes of death not only due to environmental reasons but also due to aging population. In coming times, we will see more and more chronic patients being treated at home and this technology being used not only in our ventilators for home patients, but also other associated products related to secretion clearance and monitoring devices.

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