A Bengaluru startup aims to take the pain out of pre-delivery monitoring of mothers-to-be

Kavita Patil July 21, 2017

Story Highlights

  • Bengaluru-based startup Janitri has developed a software that continuously monitors the vital parameters of a pregnant woman in the hours leading to delivery
  • Daksh presents this information in an easy-to-understand format for doctors and nurses, alerts them when any indicator begins to chart abnormal territory, and recommends the best course of action
  • Daksh seeks to ensure compliance with the WHO protocol so that every pregnant woman gets the required care in the critical hours ahead of delivery

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Most hospitals and clinics in India are understaffed and doctors and nurses overworked. So while other industries may be reeling under the threat of job losses due to technology, medical professionals in India would only be happy if tech took over their tedious tasks.

A Bengaluru-based startup has developed a technology that aims to do just that by ensuring proper care and assessment of an expectant mother, thereby taking a load of obstetrics and gynaecology professionals.

Daksh presents this information in an easy-to-understand format for doctors and nurses, alerts them when any indicator begins to chart abnormal territory, and recommends the best course of action, including if the woman needs to be referred to a better-equipped hospital  

The startup, Janitri, has developed a software that continuously monitors the vital parameters of a pregnant woman in the hours leading to delivery. The software, originally called Laborconnect and renamed as Daksh, comes pre-installed in a tablet attached to a stand. It monitors and evaluates health indicators such as the heart rate of the mother and the unborn child, duration of the labour, blood pressure, contractions etc. Daksh presents this information in an easy-to-understand format for doctors and nurses, alerts them when any indicator begins to chart abnormal territory, and recommends the best course of action, including if the woman needs to be referred to a better-equipped hospital. Once the device is fully charged, it can be used for two-three days.

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Staff nurses learn how to use the Daksh application in the maternity ward at a PHC in Bellary

According to WHO protocol, hospitals need to maintain these records — called partograph or partogram — for every pregnant woman who gets admitted for delivery. In India, the normal practice is to manually monitor the mother and fill in eight pages of data in a physical form at regular intervals. On paper, this practice started here about five years ago. However, due to its time-consuming nature, hard-pressed medical staff often skip this step.

By taking over the cumbersome process, Daksh seeks to ensure compliance with the WHO protocol so that every pregnant woman gets the required care in the critical hours ahead of delivery. The technology has been tested in Karnataka’s primary healthcare centres (PHCs) and is showing good results.

By taking over the cumbersome process of maintaining a partogram, Daksh seeks to ensure compliance with the WHO protocol so that every pregnant woman gets the required care in the critical hours ahead of delivery  

In February, Janitri distributed nine tablets in PHCs — two in Bengaluru and seven in different districts in northern Karnataka. Before this, Daksh was tested in rural parts of Rajasthan. The startup claims that it has helped monitor about 250 pregnant women in the trials so far. Daksh was developed with the support of Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council and Villgro Innovations Foundation.

A PHC in Hirehalli village of Karnataka’s Tumkur district has been using Daksh for the past three months. Dr Kumar Yadappanavar from the PHC told FactorDaily that the software has made the job a lot easier for him and the three nurses at the PHC. It is simple to use, reduces paperwork and saves them time.

“Daksh helps us keep a check on all the patients simultaneously. In case of an emergency, it tells us what treatment we should administer, and helps us take quick decisions. While recording the parameters manually in the partograph, errors occur sometimes, but this software has zero errors,” he said.

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The software, originally called Laborconnect and renamed as Daksh, comes pre-installed in a tablet attached to a stand

At another PHC in Anegundi village of Koppal district, nurse Rita Pramila gave similar feedback. She said while they have been using Daksh since February, the district health officer has asked them to maintain the paperwork too. Drawing a contrast between the manual and the automated ways of monitoring expectant mothers, she said the software makes the task much easier and accurate.

Founder of Janitri, 27-year-old Arun Agarwal, holds a masters degree in biomedical engineering. He said the WHO protocol needs medical staff to check the entire partograph and then decide the course of treatment, but most doctors and nurses skip the step and take decisions based on their reading of the situation.

“Daksh helps us keep a check on all the patients simultaneously… While recording the parameters manually in the partograph, errors occur sometimes, but this software has zero errors” — Dr Kumar Yadappanavar, from a PHC in Karnataka’s Tumkur district  

“There is no awareness about the WHO protocol and neither are nurses taught how to interpret it. I have noticed there is also a lack of interest or lack of time to follow the protocol. This leads to wrong decisionmaking, often resulting in maternity deaths,” he said.

According to the World Bank, every one lakh childbirths in India saw 174 maternal deaths in 2015. However, the maternal mortality rate in India is declining fast and Janitri aims to help the cause further.

Agarwal said they were yet to decide the cost of their product. According to Rural Health Statistics, with about 1,53,655 sub-centres, 25,308 PHCs and 5,396 Community Healthcare Centres in India, he said there is immense scope for Daksh. He added Janitri is considering taking three tablets to Meghalaya for another phase of the pilot project. Currently, their focus is only on government hospitals.

An innovation similar to Daksh called PartoPen has already been introduced in Kenya.

 

Lead visual: Angela Anthony Pereira

Updated at 1.50pm on July 26, 2017, to correct a typo.

The ‘Tech Meets Bharat’ series brings to you stories on how technology is impacting and changing lives in hinterland India. Kavita Patil is a Bengaluru-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.