This digital health tech startup uses AI-based health kits and trained paramedics to serve rural and semi-urban population
A phone call from Bangladesh informed Professor Khondoker Abdullah Al Mamun of his mother’s diagnosis of fourth stage breast cancer. At the time, he was doing his doctorate at the University of Southampton, UK.
The doctor’s prognosis was that he had about six months left.
Mamun rushed to Bangladesh. And, after consulting several doctors, he managed to gather alternative opinions. As a result, he decided to continue with his mother’s cancer treatment and surgeries.
After six months, her mother beat the cancer and was declared cancer-free.
While the doctors said it was a miracle, Mamun thought the opposite. âRather, it was the result of informed decision making and treatment. The more informed you are, the more likely you are to [medical] success you get, âhe said.
Not only did her mother survive cancer, despite the loss of a kidney and diabetes, but Mamun also managed to regulate her pre-existing conditions with proper management.
This success gave him enough confidence to realize that many critical medical situations are manageable by knowing the patient’s condition. âWhile I was pursuing my postdoctoral fellowship in Canada, I began to think that I could save my mother with my knowledge and thanks to my networks.
Many mothers in our country may not have sons like me. I wanted to establish a system for all mothers in the country like mine, âMamun told The Business Standard.
Years after its realization, in the union of Sombag with Dhamrai upazila, each of the 32,000 people now has a “health account”.
âBecause of my pregnancy, after each visit, the health nurse gives me effective advice that I follow religiously,â said Tania Akter, a young mother-to-be.
“We don’t need to go anywhere. We are checked regularly at our doorstep,” said Fuziron Begum.
Akter and Begum live in the union of Sombag.
We all know Facebook and bank accounts. But have you ever heard of a health account, where all the details of one’s health are tracked and recorded for years?
Trained paramedics went door-to-door documenting health issues like blood pressure, diabetes, BMI, prerequisites, and more with smart health tools. The data is stored in an AI-based cloud-based system for further health monitoring, risk assessment and screening, essentially in the âhealth accountâ.
Audri Khatun, who works as a paramedic in association with the NDP (National Development Program) in Pabna, said: âAll information like blood type, blood pressure, diabetics is now easily accessible through CMED applications. Sometimes users ask me to check and compare with their previous records when I visit for reviews and we can check all the data in moments now. “
Anyone enrolled has the option of being examined by paramedics and then being referred to doctors, or even telemedicine, if needed, as many times as needed for an entire month. And, all of this can be used for almost $ 1 (Tk85). A full family is also covered for about $ 1 per month.
Khondoker Abdullah Al Mamun, Founder of CMED
Khondoker Abdullah Al Mamun, Founder of CMED
What started CMED
Mamun quit his job at the University of Toronto and returned to Bangladesh on a mission to establish practice-oriented research and laboratory culture, which he said was lacking in Bangladesh.
He established his research laboratory, AIMS (Laboratory of Advanced Intelligent Multidisciplinary Systems) at the United International University in 2015. After a year of in-depth research on the health system, identifying problems and structuring the framework of solutions, he has created CMED.
Dr Khondoker Abdullah Al Mamun, along with Dr Farhana Sarker, Moinul H Chowdhury and Md Ashraf Dawood, founded CMED, a digital health technology start-up in 2016. It offers IoT (a system of interdependent digital devices ) enabled for cloud-based preventive healthcare. platform that monitors health metrics, predicts health risks, and reduces health care costs.
Through a cloud-based medical system framework, documented data is automatically analyzed by AI-based health kits for referral to other physicians or for baseline screening for cardiovascular disease, autism , diabetes, blood pressure, etc. – making information available to patients.
The 60-member team works with healthcare professionals, engineers and IT professionals, to ensure digital health inclusion in Bangladesh by implementing comprehensive primary and preventive health care. By incorporating data-driven health surveillance and referral systems into the health care infrastructure, they are working to create accountability in the country’s health sector.
ABM Abdullah, former Dean of BSMMU (Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University) Faculty of Medicine and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s personal physician said, âThe project is in an experimental state. If they can extend this counseling work to people at their doorstep, it will be a sustainable plan for the health care system within a few years. “
After having successfully carried out its pilot project in Sombag, CMED is currently offering its service in 51 unions to 13 people on the lake.
CMED is patented in Bangladesh and has been published in international journals.
âThe health system in Bangladesh is very dispersed and fragmented. It is not preventive, but rather curative. As a result, people are looking for end-stage doctors with higher death rates from non-communicable diseases like heart attacks, strokes, asthma, diabetes, âsaid Mamun.
âFrom our research, we have three main conclusions: there is no medical record, no referral system and no health insurance in Bangladesh. Each year, the growth in the number of patients in hospitals increases by 22.5% in Bangladesh. While this is good for business, it reflects how poor our healthcare system is, âhe added.
To deal with this situation, CMED used the solution based on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, introducing digital health inclusion.
âWe’re bringing home health service with our app and AI-supported smart health kit. By keeping our goals aligned with the vision of a digital Bangladesh, we aim to mainstream digital health inclusion in this decade 2021-2030, âexplained Mamun.
CMED acquired the ICT division’s Innovation Fund in 2016, to integrate this framework into a business plan. Later, after winning the Grameenphone Accelerator to turn the idea into a commercial prototype, they officially launched their business.
During the first phase of the pandemic, using their same AI-based models and the same risk assessment tools, CMED implemented a surveillance system for risk reduction, public awareness, digital screening, referral system and contract research, additional testing and quarantine for Covid-19.
So far, they have trained 10,000 government health workers online and served 20 lake people for free with their platform and technology.
Additionally, CMED won the Innovation Award at the Seedstarts Summit 2018 held in Switzerland, the SDG Inclusion Bangladesh Innovation Award 2018 and the National ICT Award among many other national and international accolades for their work to date. .