Please tell us more about Medtronic India’s partnership with Apollo Hospitals?
There is a huge unmet need with regards to stroke awareness and therapy in India and Medtronic has been leading the fight against acute ischemic stroke (AIS) – enabling physician partners with meaningful stroke technologies to empower their expertise. As no single entity can address the challenges of healthcare alone, Medtronic and Apollo Hospitals are collaborating to develop a comprehensive stroke program with the aim of reducing door to needle time by using artificial intelligence (AI) for advanced stroke management.
Medtronic will support Apollo Hospitals with stroke technologies, technical expertise, training and setting up of 10 comprehensive stroke ready centers in the country. The partnership with Apollo Hospitals will further Medtronic’s goal of creating awareness and providing quicker access to quality healthcare for stroke patients in India.By creating centers of excellence, we are aiming that patients are identified faster, and they receive early diagnosis and the best treatment in a timely manner. We are aiming to address the current treatment gaps in stroke with our innovative technologies, thereby potentially improving outcomes for patients.
How do you see technology impacting healthcare?
1 in 4 people over the age of 25 years will suffer a stroke during their lifetime, according to data from the World Stroke Organization. The fourth leading cause of death today, around 1.8 million people in India suffer from a stroke every year. Thus, it becomes critical to improve the treatment and management of stroke and digital technologies are a step in that direction.
Our strength lies in a strong product portfolio and our strategic partnerships that bring innovative, integrated solutions—we strive to improve outcomes for stroke patients. Through the comprehensive stroke program, we will integrate Artificial Intelligence which will help in getting access of brain scans remotely to physicians 24/7 which will lead to faster diagnosis and decision making and will save critical time required in treating the patient. The AI software will provide automated analysis in less than two minutes as against currently accepted imaging practices for diagnosis of stroke that takes up to one hour to complete, enabling faster decision making in stroke where every second counts. Thus, a stroke at odd hours of night will not result in patient losing time for an expert review to begin treatment.
How has Covid-19 impacted stroke treatment in India? What are the trends you have witnessed?
As per the study published in JAMA Neurology in July, 2020, there may a probability of Covid-19 to cause ischemic stroke. With Covid 19, the burden on healthcare systems has increased manifold and the fear of catching an infection has reduced visits to hospital and timely diagnosis of many critical conditions. Risk of acquiring Covid-19 should not delay life-saving stroke treatment where every minute matters. People need to be aware of the symptoms of stroke to be able to take action immediately and clinicians need to be vigilant for signs of stroke in patients with Covid-19 so that it can be managed through timely intervention.
How do you see the future landscape for stroke treatment in the country and what are Medtronic’s plans in this space?
In a developing nation like India, the majority of stroke survivors continue to live with disabilities, and the costs of on-going rehabilitation and long-term-care are largely undertaken by family members. Therefore the rising stroke and higher mortality among the Indian populace needs focused attention on prevention and early management of stroke.
Technological advancements are key to improving the outcomes for patients. For instance, before 2015 a patient could only be treated up to 4.5 hours from the onset of symptoms by a thrombolytic drug called TPA. With the advancement in medical technology, now selected stroke patients can be treated up to 24 hours by Mechanical Thrombectomy offered by companies like Medtronic.
Additionally, while Metro and Tier 1 cities have healthcare infrastructure comparable with the best in the world, India’s rural population (65% of overall), still awaits access to high-quality healthcare. Thus, there appears a need to evaluate Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models in collaboration with the government to extend healthcare services across the country and bridge the gap between care providers and patients. We will also evaluate a Hub and Spoke model where ‘spokes’ center ( CT/MR capable centers) can triage large vessel occlusion patients to Hub Center (nearest stroke ready center) while the patients who arrive up to 4.5 hrs from onset of stroke symptoms can be provided IV thrombolysis with Telestroke care at Spokes center only. With like-minded partners, we can advance our goals of addressing the barriers of 3A – awareness, access and affordability.