Published: 22nd May 2018
These engineers created an attachment that can make any stethoscope 'digital' instantly
Called AyuLynk, the attachment can detect and record heart and lung noises and digitally transmit them — making it a boon for health practitioners in India's isolated villages
The stethoscope is the most commonly used medical device in the healthcare industry. And although it is a simple device, its efficiency is determined by the person who uses it. That's exactly why two engineers put their heads (and ears) together and created an attachment called AyuLynk to convert every ordinary stethoscope into a digital stethoscope — such that it can digitally record the vitals that are detected and transfer it to any medium necessary.
"Heart and lung diseases have become the top causes of death in the world, and require an effective tool for early diagnosis. Conventional stethoscopes used by doctors require considerable training and concentration to identify the relevant sound patterns. Also listening to the chest sounds is subjective and has a long learning curve," said Adarsha K, an engineer from Karnataka.
So how does it work?
"AyuLynk is a device which can be attached to a conventional stethoscope to make it a digital stethoscope. This device helps in Telemedicine where the heart and lung sounds can be recorded from the village and sent to the physician who is in a city. Currently, we are working on algorithms using which the device will be helpful in screening the patients for heart and lung diseases," added Adarsha.
Digitising the conventional: Adarsha K, Tapas Pandey at MEDIC 2015
It all started at IIT
The limitation of normal stethoscopes and the impact that it can create if digitised, motivated two engineers from different parts of the country to come together. Adarsha and his friend Tapas Pandey started their journey at MEDIC 2015 (Medical Device Innovation Conclave) conducted by BETiC (Biomedical Engineering Technology Incubation Center), IIT Bombay. Here, their prototype of a digitised stethoscope could amplify heartbeats and lung sounds, record the audio, and convert it into an audio file which could then be shared over different platforms.
It was a 5-day Hackathon where engineers along with a doctor had to form a team and had to work on a given medical problem. Adarsha, Tapas, and Dr Nambiraj Konar formed the team and worked on the problem of transmitting heart and lung sounds from one place to another. After the hackathon, the potential of their invention pushed Adarsha and Tapas to quit their jobs — Adarsha had been working at L&T in Mumbai and Tapas was working at a semiconductor firm in Hyderabad.
"At BETiC we followed the process of Define-Develop-Deliver-Deploy. We spent more time on understanding the problem. It was a bit challenging to manufacture the prototype as the vendors do not entertain manufacturing in small quantities," added Adarsha about their struggle during the process of development of the product.
Ayu ready to hear the beat?
Their company, Ayu Devices, was incubated at BETiC, IIT Bombay, which now has commercialised the device and made the ‘digital’ part available to any normal stethoscope. The founders of the company include Adarsha K, Tapas Pandey and Dr Rupesh Ghyar and advisors – Prof B Ravi, Dr Lancelot Pinto, Dr Nambiraj Konar and Dr Anvay Mulay. Following this, the two engineers slogged for over two years and worked on multiple prototypes before AyuLynk was launched in April 2018.
"The ratio of physicians to the number of people in India is 1: 1668 which is very less than the standard. This ratio is very bad in rural areas as the density of doctors is high in urban areas. Our device can be used in primary healthcare centers to record abnormal sounds, which can be sent to expert physicians for further diagnosis," said Adarsha.
Not only is AyuLynk priced 3 times lesser than other electronic stethoscopes available in the market it is more effective than the conventional stethoscope. Conventional stethoscopes used by doctors require considerable training and concentration to identify the relevant sound patterns, especially in a noisy environment. AyuLynk's innovative module enables noise filtering, sound amplification, recording and playback, and provide a visual representation of heart and lung sounds.
So far the company has received more than 60 orders - 14 clinicians and a Telemedicine company currently use it.
"We showed our device to Dr. Joe (Ex-president of Canadian thoracic society) who had visited Hinduja Hospital Mumbai. He liked the device and wished us all the best. We met Dr. Lancelot Pinto chest physician, Hinduja hospital, who is also a member of the development team. He gave positive feedback after using the device," said Adarsha.