Tackling cervical cancer head on

Contributed by team Cerviscope – Top 10 Innovator

When our honourable Prime Minister declared his ‘Digital India’ vision from the ramparts of Red Fort, one envisaged aspect was that of “Quality Healthcare to percolate right up to the remotest regions powered by e-Healthcare”.

As someone from the healthcare industry, we - Team Embryyo, took it upon ourselves to contribute to this enormous vision. Little did we know, that we would actually be close to achieving our dream! For the past few months now, we have been shaping our product CerviScope at the Innovate For Digital India Challenge (IFDIC), under the women’s health vertical.


CERVISCOPE – THE DEVICE

CerviScope is an affordable, easy to use, image based screening device which would aid front line health workers in identifying visual markers for early stage cervical cancer. It would also facilitate remote consultation with experienced gynaecologists via a cloud based tele-oncology platform.

The device incorporates advanced optical techniques to increase the sensitivity and specificity of cervical cancer screening. The records of the previous screening sessions and screening cycle would be constantly recorded on our application, which in turn would generate alerts in case of missed/ ignored opportunities. We believe that such a technology would be the right tool to enable the public and private health systems to better manage and control the rising incidences of cervical cancer in India and the world.


WHY CERVICAL CANCER

The reason we started working on our product Cerviscope was the critical scenario of cervical cancer detection in our country. Globally, Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women with an estimated 5,50,000 new cases every year. A majority (around 80%) of the global burden occurs in less developed countries such as India. 75,000 women in India die annually due to cervical cancer, which accounts for 27% of the global mortality.

There are two main causes for such high numbers and significant divide ratio - 1) Lack of early screening for Stage 0 and Stage 1 cervical cancer and 2) Lack of trained gynaecologists in high burden and resource constrained settings.

Source: GLOBOCAN 2008

Source: Bhatla N et al; Vaccine 2008; 26 2811-17 6

We try to solve both the issues with Cerviscope. To validate our idea we entered Innovation For Digital India Challenge and soon we were among the top 20


OUR IDEA TAKES SHAPE IN IFDIC

The three months of the Accelerator Program, offered to all top 20 teams, was an evolutionary journey for us. It made us realize the right business model, key partners, revenue streams, customer channels& relationships and most importantly appropriate value propositions to each customer segment. Constant interactions with mentors and adjuncts have proved extremely beneficial during the evolving phase of product design and prototype development. The Accelerator and Intel’s support has helped us deliver quality prototypes and achieve all internal & external milestones on time.

The Embryyo Team at the Innovate For Digital India Challenge

Migrating to Intel’s architecture has been one of our best decisions so far. It’s far superior to our pre-chosen design, and has proved to be the right fit for our product. Working with the Intel XDK development tool, we exploited the power of the Intel Edison board to enhance CerviScope’s capabilities to handle the essential requirements of on-board image processing, hardware control and remote sharing capabilities.

More so, continuous and agile pivots around our business model through the support of “Lester Centre for Entrepreneurship & Innovation” at Hass business school, University of California, assisted us to a great extent in finding the most feasible, scalable and sustainable model. We are grateful to IFDIC for providing us support in many forms. They have been the perfect catalyst in our journey to convert this idea into a commercial product in the market and hence, bring us closer to creating the social impact, we always dreamt of.


SHOWCASING OUR INNOVATION TO VISIONARY LEADERS

The most encouraging boost to our endeavours has been the constant support and recognition that we’ve received during the IFDI Challenge. The challenge has offered us the huge opportunity to share our solution with some of the most inspirational, and proven thought leaders.

Whether it was being unveiled as part of the Top 10 at the brilliant Intel Showcase hosted at Delhi, or becoming a topic of focus for a special NDTV show, or meeting our honourable President Shri Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan; the recognition and exposure has been priceless - making us believe that there are many more out there who believe in our solution, vision and hope for a better future for the nation.

The showcase provided us a platform worthy enough to spread the significance of our solution, facilitating well justified traction. It also put light on the hard work of the whole team of IFDIC and the entrepreneurs, to have come so far. These memories of gratitude, give us another boost to fast-track our reach to the market and hence, positively impact the cervical cancer statistics enormously in years to come.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely of the participants and do not represent the views of Intel, the Department of Science & Technology and CIIE in any form or matter.