Written by Usha Rani Das at Business Insider, June 22, 2015

Link to the article

Ninety-nine percent of all deaths in children less than 5 years old occur in low and middle income countries. Fifty-three percent of these children or 3.5 million die from diseases that are completely preventable with early clinical assessments and treatment interventions.

India is one such country where there is a severe dearth of professionals. But the healthcare delivery system in India has proven the importance of community healthcare workers for improving health outcomes, especially where access to doctors and nurses is limited. So MEDSINC, an app developed by THINKMD, Inc (University of Vermont), that holds the promise to deliver healthcare to the remotest villages, would surely have a significant impact in India.

“The problem is that in these countries there is one physician for every 20K to 100K population and one nurse for every 2K-10K population. So access to healthcare professionals who could perform quality clinical assessments in children less than 5 years-old simply does not exist in many parts of the world,” said Barry Finette, CEO and Founder of THINKMD and director of the Global Health and Humanitarian Opportunity Program, University of Vermont College of Medicine.

MEDSINC is being developed to ‘disrupt’ the healthcare delivery model by empowering nurses, aids, and unskilled health workers with the ability to perform integrated clinical severity assessments to determine if a child is sick and to generate evidence based treatment recommendations that can be implemented immediately in communities where access to physicians and skilled nurses do not exist. The global effect this will have is to increase pediatric healthcare capacity in these regions, and lead to a decrease in childhood mortality and disability (DALYs).

“Most of the time, large populations do not have access to these physicians, but do have access to community health workers where they live. We want to shift this paradigm to include the community health worker in communities in concert with the local and regional physicians,” he said and further added, “India has also proven with great success the benefits of mHealth technology and mobile technology for improving both health and economics of major populations groups.”

Hence, they think India will soon become a benchmark to prove the novelty of this app to the world. Beta/development testing of MEDSINC has been performed in the US at the Univ. of Vermont, Bangladesh, Peru and Ecuador. The researchers have experienced extremely quick adoption and satisfaction with the platform and have also seen clinical severity assessment correlations generated by unskilled workers assessing children less than 5 yrs-old to that of local and board certified pediatricians to be between 80-100 percent.

“This demonstrates that our platform is easily adoptable, satisfying to use and correlating well with board certified pediatricians,” said Barry.

Barry does acknowledge the safety risks attached to any new project related to healthcare.

“Any clinical severity assessment tool or clinical decision tool will have some risk especially if it is being used in the absence of a physician to oversee its use. Our data to date suggest that it will be effective but clearly additional studies will need to be done to see if performance continues to meet or exceed approved clinical and scientific QA standards,” he added.

The team believes that it will lead to a marked decrease in infant mortality rates in developing countries. Barry told that MEDSINC will be able to significantly increase pediatric healthcare capacity. All clinical studies to date have shown that an increase in healthcare capacity leads to a decrease in mortality and morbidity.

“The main motivation for this project stems from my experience in seeing first hand children dying from preventable clinical conditions all over the world simply because they are poor. We want to try to change this and provide these children an opportunity to receive better healthcare and thus decreasing their chances of dying prematurely or preventing long term disability,” said Barry, whose brainchild MEDSINC is.

Link to the article