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Health care at fingertips

- US grant for project

A promising chapter is set to begin in the city’s health care service with three Calcutta-born entrepreneurs winning the Rockefeller Foundation 2012 Innovation Challenges competition for a project that proposes to develop a centralised system to manage availability of emergency Health care facilities and products.

The competition was a part of the centennial programme of the foundation established by John D. Rockefeller Sr.

Metro had reported on August 28, 2012, how Rita Bhattacharjee, Rajib Sengupta and Tanmay Mahapatra mooted Kolkata Medical Emergency System (KMES), a groundbreaking proposal, under the banner Mission Arogya, to beat more than 2,000 entries from across the globe and reach the final eight. They were also the first to be assured a $100,000 grant for implementation of their project.

Rita and Rajib have now relocated to Calcutta from New York to steer the project. “The Rockefeller authorities had asked us how we would run the project from far. We assured them that we would shift to Calcutta if we got the grant,” said Rita, project co-ordinator and a post-graduate from Jadavpur University who shifted to the US in 2001 after marrying Rajib, a software engineer.

On reaching Calcutta, Rajib and Rita hit the ground running. “The KMES data centre has already been set up in Mumbai. Work on developing the software has also begun. Every hospital and blood bank has its own portal with which the software will be integrated to update availability data.”

All one has to do is click on the appropriate button when a patient is admitted to or released from a hospital or a blood unit is issued or acquired. The information will get transferred to a cloud-based data centre.

When a person requests the information through SMS, website or phone, the system will respond with the nearest available locations where the service or the product is available, thus saving precious time.

Mission Arogya officials have drawn up a list of 18 super-speciality and tertiary care hospitals and blood banks, with which talks are on.

“Our proposal was the only one in the health category that got approved. Once the grant was approved, they asked us to do the groundwork for the next three months — set up a team, get infrastructure in place and prepare the project plan,” said Rajib, the director of technology and chief operating and technology officer of Mission Arogya.

The grant carries a use-it-or-lose-it condition. “The quicker we get the system in place the better it is,” Rajib said.

R3G Foundation has already received $50,000 on signing the grant agreement. “The project will run from January to December 2013. In April, we have to submit the second interim report on our progress. In May, the foundation will showcase our work at the Innovation Forum in New York,” Rajib said.

“We hope to complete the paperwork by end-March. We have also met health officials who have expressed interest,” said Tanmay, an epidemiologist from the School of Public Health, University of California, and the medical research director for the project.