As the COVID-19 outbreak in India has created a huge demand for critical medical equipment used in intensive care units (ICUs), a Chennai-based startup has developed a portable low-cost ventilator.
KritiLabs Technologies has designed the ventilator which runs on a microprocessor and can fine-tune the oxygen level as per doctor’s prescription. ‘Kriti digital ventilator’ also collects vital statistics of a patient and transmits it to a server for doctors to monitor even from a remote location.
The development comes when big corporates like Maruti and Mahindra & Mahindra have also come up with plans to manufacture ventilators and meet the future demand.
Indigenous design and manufacturing
While traditional ventilators are mostly imported and expensive, this one is affordable, says LN Rajaram, co-founder of KritiLabs. “Since our ventilator runs on a microprocessor, the respiratory volume, breadth and rate can be controlled accurately as per the requirement of the patient,” says Rajaram, adding that all these can be done through a mobile app.
The ventilator can be operated with a power bank when there is no electric supply. Both software and hardware were designed in Chennai with components imported from other countries. The company is gearing up to ramp up production as per the requirements of hospitals. For the time being, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has exempted ventilators from certification and hospitals and doctors can evaluate and validate the equipment.
Simple operation, lower load for hospitals
For the time being, Indian Council of Medical Reserch (ICMR) has exempted ventilators from certification and it is up to user-hospitals and doctors to evaluate and validate the
equipment. The Kriti digital ventilator is based on the ambu bag technology that is already in operation and is considered a established process, says Dr. Dinesh E, a veteran doctor specialising in anesthesia. Having worked with various medicare brands including Apollo and Manipal, he feels easy-to-deploy ventilators will be of immense use in a situation similar to the flood of patients in countries like the US, Italy and Spain.
“For make-shift medical facilities created at places like sports stadium to meet surge in patients, portable ventilators will play a critical role. Similarly, when a patient is shifted from one location to another, the ventilator can continue to function. Most importantly, there is no need for a doctor or anesthesia technician to constantly monitor the ventilator from the patients bedside since it can be done remotely,” he told The Federal.
Accurate delivery of oxygen to the patient is considered necessary since too much oxygen will be harmful to the lungs while vital organs will suffer if the quantum is less. In the ambu bag system, hospitals can check performance of the compression handle with a test lung since certification is not mandated now.
Coronavirus’ attack on lungs
The ventilator is based on the Ambu bag model that provides breathing assistance during lung failure. In coronavirus-infected patients, doctors have observed a sticky and yellowish fluid, called exudate, filling the lungs and preventing it from transporting oxygen to the body. Such circumstances are described as acute respiratory distress syndrome, when oxygen has to be pumped into lungs as per a patient’s weight, breathing volume, etc.
This is necessary to keep oxygen flowing to vital organs like brain, kidneys and liver until lungs recover. The syndrome affects heart too and this is considered as a serious condition. The use of ventilators becomes critical at this stage, and this is the key reason for massive casualties in countries like the US, Italy, Spain and the UK.
Data collection will be vital
Collection of a patient’s data from a remote location is important since COVID-19 reduces human interface with patients in isolation wards. So, transmission of data to a remote server is a major feature for any medical device, says GR Sivaramakrishnan, a Bangalore-based entrepreneur working on data science and artificial intelligence.
Only accurate data analysis can control this worldwide problem, he says. Since social distancing is the norm to avoid the spread of Coronavirus, remote operation of the Kriti digital ventilator and transmission of data to a remote server help in reducing physical interaction with the patient.
Shortage of ventilators
Even countries like the US, Italy and the UK faced a shortage of ventilators. Currently, India too faces he same problem, as only around 40,000 ventilators are available in the country. If India cannot contain spread of the virus, it will require a large number of ventilators, along with oxygen cylinders, PPEs and hand sanitisers.
To avoid such a situation, the government has roped in corporate players as well as government organisations like the DRDO to enable quick production of ventilators in a short notice.