Get new exclusive access to healthcare business reports & breaking news
AstraZeneca India, a leading science-led biopharmaceutical company, together with health-tech startup, Tricog, rolled out a program called ‘Project Heart Beat’, focused on an early and accurate diagnosis of Heart Attack patients to thus lower mortality rates.
The need for early diagnosis and timely intervention for patients with a suspected heart attack is met by enabling cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) supported interpretation of electrocardiograms (ECGs), routing patients to the nearest Cath Labs or fibrinolysis centers, which then ensures accurate diagnosis and rapid treatment, improving patient outcomes. It is currently deployed in tier 1, 2 towns, and villages that have no access to quality healthcare.
This initiative also aims to upskill the physicians and technicians at the primary & secondary care centers to better manage heart attack patients, by following the guideline-recommended ACS (Acute Coronary Syndrome) treatment protocols and early referral to the tertiary care centers for better results.
Project Heart Beat has already touched over 13,000 patients, and impacted the lives of over 6,000 patients with abnormal and critical MI, with an average diagnosis time under 4 minutes.
This is not the first time AI is used to help early diagnosis of heart disease. In September 2018, Apple launched the Apple Watch Series 4, with the new, much-awaited capability of taking ECG (electrocardiogram) readings right from your wrist. This feature, which had just been given approval by the FDA at that time, has gone live in the United States and was designed for people aged 22 and over.
Commenting on the successful rollout of Project Heart Beat, Gagan Singh Bedi, Managing Director – AstraZeneca India, said, “With regards to heart attacks and its treatment, early diagnosis and timely treatment is the key. As the young population is also prone to heart attack these days, it is vital that we arrange facilities for early diagnosis and treatment in rural parts of the country, as they don’t have easy access to modern healthcare facilities. The key objectives of this program include early and accurate diagnosis of MI patients, reducing the door to balloon time/needle time, and making necessary drugs available at the primary care centers. Through this program, we have already touched the lives of more than 13,000 patients and resulted in the early identification of abnormal ECGs that were referred to their respective tertiary care hospitals to further aid in effective disease management.”
Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is using AI to impact other Asian health markets. In 2018, the company was looking to tighten its grip on the Chinese market by using AI, robotics, and digital apps to improve the diagnosis of diseases in the Asian nation.
In 2018, AstraZeneca partnered with Alibaba and Tencent as part of its plans to provide “better service and treatment for China’s patients suffering from chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and respiratory disorders, and ultimately increase its drug sales in China. The two internet giants will help develop smart health services, AI-assisted screening and diagnosis, and tackle online sales.”
The company continued investing in various healthcare domains. Last December, AstraZeneca, the developer of one of the pharmaceutical industry’s first COVID-19 vaccine, announced that it will acquire US-based Alexion for $39 billion.
Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca, British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company, indicated that Alexion shareholders will receive $60 in cash
and around 2.1 from the company’s US-listed shares for each share of Alexion they own, and they will own around 15% of the combined company.
Chief executive of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot, said, “Alexion has become established as a leader in complement biology, advancing life-changing benefits to patients with rare diseases. This acquisition allows AstraZeneca to enhance its presence in immunology.”
For this campaign, AstraZeneca has deployed a Hub & Spoke model, partnering with a Bengaluru-based startup Tricog Health. Currently, there are 8 Tertiary care centers (Hubs) connected to 39 primary/ secondary care centers (spokes), where a 12-lead ECG machine with a communicator device has been deployed.
The device sends the ECG readings to the cloud in real-time, where artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms interpret the data, which is reviewed and finalized by a trained medical practitioner, and the response is relayed back to the primary/ secondary care center as well as the tertiary care center in less than 10 minutes.
Commenting on this initiative, Dr Charit Bograj, CEO, Tricog, said, “We are glad to partner with AstraZeneca for this project as this is for something which impacts the lives of many Indians. India has one of the highest burdens of cardiovascular disease (CVD) worldwide. Data by the Indian Council of Medical Research indicates that it takes more than six hours to reach a hospital in more than half the cases of heart attacks, and unfortunately, many are losing their loved ones due to the delay in diagnosis and treatment. Here we are trying to bridge this gap.”
Currently, Project Heart Beat has eight major hubs with all facilities to treat heart attack patients in India. To name a few, Sanjeevan Medical Center, Karad- Maharashtra, Metro heart, Faridabad -Delhi NCR, Spandan hospital,Bhopal -Madhyapradesh, CKS hospital, Jaipur-Rajasthan, Lifeline hospital, Thane -Maharasthra, B K L Walawalakar Rural Medical College, Kasarwadi- Maharashtra, with a plan to expand the initiative across India in the coming months.