Proposals to help patients and physicians communicate and store data, to address chronic blood supply shortages, and to provide individual air-quality testing received highest honors at the 2012 IIT mHealth Business Plan Competition finals last week.

The event capped a four-month competition that gave teams of students from throughout the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) network a platform to showcase innovative, financially sound solutions for public health issues around the world.

First place winners Team MedNext, second-place Team ABO and third-place Team Antigens were selected for the novelty, feasibility, and scalability of their proposals, and quality of their presentation skills. Critically, they – and the dozens of teams who entered the competition – represent a generation of young healthcare leaders who bring promising ingenuity and considerable education to bear on global health challenges. You can read more about the winning proposals below.

In addition to presenting ideas, student finalists had the opportunity to network with professors and executives from Fortune 500 companies with a strong footing in mobile health (mHealth). A distinguished panel of health IT leaders generously donated their time and talent to judge the competition:

•    Professor SK Jain, HOD, IIT Department of Management Studies
•    Prof. MP Gupta, Professor, IIT Department of Management Studies
•    Prof. SW Kachnowski, Visiting Professor, IIT Department of Management Studies and Research Chair, HITLAB
•    Mr. Subrata Mukherji, President, ICICI Foundation
•    Ms. Padmaja Ruparel, President, Indian Angel Network
•    Dr. Audie Atienza, Senior Health Technology Advisor for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, representing Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer, HHS, through video conference

Overview of winning proposals

First place: Team MedNext
Sonupam Kaur and Varun Arora
Department of Management Studies, IIT Delhi

The MedNext team proposed an audio record prescription system which would leverage the fast-growing rate of mobile phone use in the developing world to facilitate patient-provider communication and support the development of centralized databases of medical records. Patients and physicians would access the system via a mobile application which:

•    Features voice recognition technology to ensure secure user authentication;
•    Enables providers to record symptoms, diagnoses, prescriptions and other details;
•    Allows patients to retrieve and listen to current prescription information, and receive reminders and alerts to take medications;
•    Stores patient information in a central database to create a longitudinal patient record; and
•    Connects rural primary care providers with specialists in urban areas.

In addition to supporting individual care, the MedNext team discussed the potential to leverage the central database for public health research, and to identify potential patients for regional and national prevention and condition management initiatives.

Second Place: Team ABO
Yadvir Singh, Hemtanu Saha, Robin Das, Parnab Das, and Bhaskar Kumar Chatterjee
PhD, Mtech and MBA students at the Department of Management Studies, IIT Delhi

ABO’s proposal involved the design of a portable mini bioreactor that would convert A, B, and AB-type blood into O-like blood, which can be used universally in blood transfusions, regardless of the recipient’s blood type. The device, which builds on current enzyme immobilization research being tested in a clinical trial, would help to address shortages in available blood supply. Additionally, because patients in need of transfusions are often treated in rural areas, away from blood banks, the device would enable caregivers to instantly treat donated blood and transfer it to the recipient.

Third place: Team Antigens
Kaaviya Mariappan, Kushal Agrawal, Sanjeev Priyam, Sowmya Seethamraju
MBA students in the Department of Management Studies, IIT Delhi

Team Antigens proposed a mobile application integrated with a pollution sensor. The device would detect the pollution level or presence of harmful gases in the air and automatically send an alert to an individual’s mobile phone, warning if air quality is over healthy permissible limits. The application also would enable users to access real-time data on air pollution available from the metrological department, helping them avoid highly affected areas.

Antigens’ proposed device offers wide implications for the general population, and particularly for individuals suffering from asthma and other respiratory conditions.

We congratulate the winners of this year’s competition, sincerely thank the judges, salute all of the participants, and eagerly look forward to next year!