Written by Jaya Raizada
Cloudphysician is a healthcare technology company that aims to blend quality healthcare with modern technology to increase the ICU capacity of small and medium sized hospitals. Their smart-ICU solution allows their intensivists (certified critical care physicians) – located at the command center in Bangalore – to connect remotely to hospital ICUs across the country and leverage technology to provide 24/7 ICU coverage. The flexibility of this solution allows Cloudphysician to take quality ICU expertise to regions and hospitals with no access to such resources for improved patient outcomes. The goal is to increase the number of ICU beds an intensivist can reach in a timely, affordable and cost effective manner.
The COVIDActionCollab (CAC) spoke with Dr. Dhruv Joshi (Co-Founder of Cloudphysician) to discuss their COVID-19 response.
What have been your key actions and initiatives around the COVID-19 response?
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the preexisting shortage of ICU specialists in India. We are working with various organizations to plug this gap and increase the capacity of hospitals in different regions. The first deployment of our smart-ICU solution in response to the pandemic was at the COVID-19 hospital of the Ramanagara district in Karnataka. We set up 16 ICU beds and 20 High-dependency unit (HDU) beds at the hospital which had no ICU specialists. We then trained 30 doctors and 50 nurses and connected them to our command center in Bangalore for real time monitoring and guidance.
We are currently working on a similar deployment at the COVID-19 hospital in the Gulbarga district of Karnataka where we will set up a 20-bed ICU facility. Gulbarga is a district that has a high incidence of cases and is running low on ICU capacity to support the growing need. All of this work we are doing to combat the COVID-19 fallout has been made possible with the help of the ACT Grants Initiative.
Besides this, we are continuing to work with our existing partner hospitals – 18 across 7 states – and supporting them with training and establishing COVID-19 protocols to tide over the crisis. The aim is to ensure the safety of both the patients and the healthcare workers in these hospitals.
To share information and learnings we have opened our COVID-19 resource folder to the public. This folder contains protocols and recommendations for hospitals to prepare themselves for COVID-19. Additionally, we have been sharing a lot of educational content including position papers which are being circulated widely on social media. Some of our content has also been published in magazines like The Wire and other online media publications. We are also currently working with several partners to develop training content for hospital staff across the country in regional languages and will be conducting training sessions soon.
Would you like to share any stories of impact that have emerged from the field?
The Ramanagara deployment was a story of great impact on the ground. This was a hospital where less than 10% of the staff had experience in ICU care. All of them wanted to learn and do right by the patients but they just did not have access to the guidance and support they needed. They were unfamiliar with the ventilators, medication, etc. and had to be brought up to speed. Training was imperative, as was making sure that the processes, protocols, medication and equipment were correct and adequate.
After our intervention, the hospital is fully equipped, trained and supported and will be able to provide quality ICU care for 1000s of patients in the coming weeks and months.
How do you plan to leverage the COVIDActionCollab?
The COVIDActionCollab is a great platform to showcase the work we are doing, build awareness and connect with central/state governments that are looking to increase ICU capacities. There are several vulnerable districts across the country where the deployment of our solution can improve healthcare capacity and save thousands of lives. To be able to reach these we will have to work with and through the government and we believe that the CAC can help us do that. We also hope to be able to connect with funders through the platform whose support will be crucial in increasing our outreach and support capacity.
What are some of the learnings and insights you would like to share?
There are two main insights we have come to have through our work so far. Firstly, understanding ground realities and challenges is crucial to developing workable solutions. Work from the ground up when trying to solve a problem – make field visits (if possible) and speak to the people who work at that level to understand their challenges. Changes in outcomes will be much more effective and long-term when approached in this way.
Secondly, leverage your networks and get as much help as you can! Government infrastructure can be challenging to navigate alone but using platforms like ACT and COVIDActionCollab will help make the process much more efficient and productive. We have to accept that the Government is front and center when it comes to dealing with the current situation – and rightly so. We, therefore, need to work with the Government machinery and the best way to do that is through networks and partnerships.
Resources from Cloudphysician:
- Innovative solutions for India to manage critically ill COVID-19 patients, a five point agenda
- Alternative approaches to the problem of COVID-19 related respiratory failure
About the Author
Jaya Raizada is a senior fundraising and partnerships specialist currently working with an Anti Human Trafficking organization in India.