Friday, June 5, 2015
Saturday, April 17, 2010
The diagram of a funnel is often cited to depict the various steps involved in filtration of “Needs-Identified” in order to successfully launch a medical device in the market. But then there has to be a driving force for the filtration to take place and a closer look will reveal that the driving force is fuelled mainly by the gravity of “Greed” rather than that of “Need”.
It is well known that the so-called filtration process gets influenced by the ability of the device manufacturer to translate the idea into a profitable venture, unless one is into philanthropy. Surely, no identified “Needs” are less important; otherwise it wouldn’t have caught one’s eye at the first place. However, the gravity of the “Need” is determined by the “Return of Investment” involved in addressing the “Need” in question.
Numerous technologies have been developed by the academia through research grants from government but there have been no takers for obvious reasons. The problem is universal as someone has rightly stated about the recently passed US Healthcare Reform Bill that no number of reforms would succeed in improving the healthcare scenario unless people stop being greedy.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Though the government’s policy is clearly aimed at protecting the interests of common man, this is viewed as a losing proposition by the industry because a potential licensee would never like to go for a “Non-Exclusive Licensing” of the medical technology for obvious reasons. No firm would like to have a competitor possessing the same technology in the market. Also, it is quite possible that if the new technology is perceived as a threat to the market of an existing product, then the technology owner of the existing product would try to seek an “Exclusive License” of the technology in question and then kill it by not taking it to the market.
This turf-war between the licensee and the licensor makes the industry go on back-foot while scouting for new technology churned out by the academia and ultimately, it is the tax-payer’s money which gets wasted when the technology developed does not move from the lab to market.
Friday, January 29, 2010
To address this issue, the government is planning to award extra credits to the interns for the rural visits or enable them to graduate on a fast track mode. However, this process will not be helpful in long run as not many doctors are really motivated to serve in the rural areas and a job done half-heartedly does not really bring the benefits expected out of this program. Also, it is obvious that people used to city-bred life find it difficult to adjust to the rural setup and that too where there are no accompanied monetary gains.
A more logical step would be to tackle this problem at village level. As a part of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), one should visit the schools in rural areas and through lucid lectures / presentation, explain to the students as to how engineers and doctors can work together to provide a proper healthcare setup to their village. Then through a screening process testing their aptitude and academic performance, a few selected students should be groomed to take up medicine / engineering through scholarship in institutes of repute. Of course, proper mechanism needs to be put in place to ensure that the selected students do not drop out from the course mid-way and on completion of their courses / training, should go back to their respective villages to help run the healthcare centres already setup by the government.
It is envisaged that such a program would churn out trained people who would be genuinely concerned about the welfare of their village and hence, address the concerns of their community in a more efficient manner.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Keeping in view the above scenario, it is proposed that each project funded by the government, be operated as a micro-enterprise incubated virtually in the “Scientific Establishment” and after the project tenure is over, the contractual employees working in that particular project be allowed to take the project forward as a spin-off, with the “Scientific Establishment” having a stake in that. This will not only make the contractual employees work as a team for the whole project duration but also motivate them to put in their best efforts to successfully commercialize the technology developed in the project.
While the researchers (scientists, engineers, professors) working in the “Scientific Establishments” have been empowered to claim an equity stake in such “Scientific Enterprises” during the course of their professional engagement with their parent organizations, the same may be extended to the contractual staff employed in the projects. This concept of “Virtual Incubator” would provide a better focus to the work done in the projects.
Friday, June 19, 2009
In a developing country like India, education, health and agriculture sectors have to work as brothers in arms to make an effective impact on the economy.
From the health point of view, since the majority of the Indian population is based in rural areas, the Government of India has the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in place to help increase the outreach of the healthcare delivery systems. Assuming that this mission is a success, one would expect the mortality rate to go down. Consequently, there would be not only an increase in the longevity of the population but also a steady growth of the population. As far as population is concerned, its growth has to be handled in such a manner that there are no deaths due to starvation whereas birth control measures should not lead to a dearth of “young working” population. So the two issues which come into forefront are that of imparting education to the young population and availability of food to feed the population.
There is no point in having a large uneducated population as they cannot be gainfully employed and unemployment is one of the key reasons for civil unrest. Also, not everyone is cut out for every sort of work. To maximize productivity, one needs to impart the right kind of education according to the capability of the person. For minimum level of education, the Government of India has launched the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) to provide employment which is a not a self-sustainable model in the long run.
Availability of a “balanced diet” for the population is a big challenge for the Government. The National Food Security Mission (NSFM) had been setup but merely, providing food for survival is not sufficient, as it is a “balanced diet” which keeps a man healthy enough to be productive at work. With the existing Public Distribution Systems (PDS) for food and various schemes like mid-day meal for school going children and subsidized food for people living below poverty line (BPL), the government has not been really successful in achieving its goals due to rampant corruption prevailing in the country and lack of proper implementation of these schemes as they had been used as mere rhetoric for garnering votes.
In such a scenario, it is technology which can play a significant role in interweaving all the three sectors to have a synergetic effect. Merely having the latest technology is not the solution as one needs to innovate to make them adaptable for the ground users. But then social acceptance of such technologies is easier said than done in a country like India which has such a diverse population. One of the ways to achieve this is to tie-up technology companies with organizations like National Innovation Foundation (NIF) who scout around for innovative technologies at grass-root level. While business is the main driving force for the technology companies to innovate, the technologies developed at grass-root level are borne more out of necessity and have a local contextual outlook. It is the mating of the two ideologies which can together address the three sectors (health, education & agriculture) effectively as it has been found time and again that it is the user or the ultimate beneficiary who can provide the best solution or inputs to overcome the hurdles to their path of development.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
In India, sufficient technical and infrastructural capability is present to replicate the functionalities of some of the imported machines. But the machines can’t be really claimed to be low cost. Often during comparisons, people forget that the expenses involved in manufacturing and marketing a device requires lot of investment and all these get added up to the cost of the machine in the market and in business, the aim is to earn revenue unless one is into philanthropy.
If one strips down all these additional expenses, then one would find in most of the cases that the cost of the imported machine is controlled by the local market prices of the components. This can be appreciated from a simple example. Suppose, a machine designed in India uses standard UL approved components. If two such machines are built with one set of components bought from the US market and the other set bought from the Chinese market, one would find that though there won’t be any difference in functionality / quality of the two machines, both being built from UL approved components, the one made from the US components would be more expensive, simply because the Chinese components are cheaper. So, technically speaking, the device is not really low cost compared to its imported counterpart on a level playing field.