At the recent Startupindia Launchpad event earlier this year, it was Bengaluru-based firm Cardiac Design Labs that walked away with the top honours, bagging the Google Grand Jury Prize for its mobile intelligent remote cardiac monitor — MIRCaM. For founder Anand Madanagopal, it was the icing on the cake to a life-long ambition — to provide comprehensive, advanced cardiac diagnostics to the masses at an affordable price.

Simply put, the device combines communications and heart-monitoring technology to access critical care, through a wearable device, and is designed to be used in rural and rough conditions. The MIRCaM suite comprises a Bodyworn unit, Patient’s Bedside Unit, MIRCaM Doctor’s Terminal and MIRCaM Doctor’s Mobile App. It provides real time analysis and generates instant alarms on episode detection, thus enhancing patient care and safety. The ECG acquisition unit, or Base Unit, picks up the ECG from the bodyworn device connected to the patient in real time. On episode detection, an alarm is triggered locally on the base unit and remotely in the remote application, which enables a timely response for the patient. MIRCaM is built for detecting cardiac arrhythmias, myocardial ischemia and infarctions, and it can also be used to follow up with critical patients from their home while they are carrying out daily activities. The cardiologist can remotely interact with and diagnose the patient using a cell phone — but this doesn’t mean the MIRCaM is a cell-phone app. It is a purely diagnostic device, and can be used for long-term monitoring as well as for the detection of conditions that can occur sporadically.

“I was always interested in healthcare, human physiology and disease,” says the Bengaluru-based Madanagopal. After completing his MCA from VIT and MS from BITS Pilani, Madanagopal started working at Tata Elxsi. However, the desire to do something on his own in the field of healthcare was always there, and towards the end of 2010, he decided to take the plunge and quit his job. “I spent around six to nine months researching,” says Madanagopal, 43, “and in my research I realised this gap in the cardiac area and everything followed after that.” Statistics reveal that there are close to 30 million heart patients in India, and heart disease is likely to account for around 35 per cent of deaths by 2030. One of his earliest mentors, who connected him to the right people in the ecosystem, was his neighbour T.R Raghunandan. Well-known senior cardiologist Dr. K.G Balakrishnan worked with Madanagopal, guiding him as he thrashed out the modalities of the device. One of the earliest angel investors was Sashi Kumar, one of the co-founders at Cardiac Design Labs.

“We have been extremely frugal,” says Madanagopal. “We have spent just about half a million dollars to get our product to a marketable stage. Yet MIRCaM is one single device, which can perform the functions of multiple other devices, like Holter, Resting ECG Machine, Event monitors and stress test.” While these other comparable devices retail at upward of Rs 5 lakh, Cardiac Labs has been able to bring MIRCaM into the market in a very affordable manner by using a different model — pay per use. The target market is small and medium hospitals and diagnostic customers. Unlike other device companies, MIRCaM is a technology services-based company, with its revenues coming from recurring revenues on a pay per-use / subscription model. “We sell the hardware at a one-time cost, where we put in a small margin to cover our cost. The main revenues come from product usage. The intent is to keep the cost of operations very low, including the filtering with people. Therefore, the model assumes high operating margins,” explains Madanagopal. The clinical trials were done at Manipal Hospital in Bengaluru on 88 cases. The sensitivity was 98.9 per cent, and MIRCaM’s specificity was 72.2 per cent.

The aim and the vision of our company is to not just limit ourselves to the cardiac field,” says Madanagopal. “We want to be able to create any form of advanced diagnostics, allowing us to reach the masses through intelligent software and hardware.” MIRCaM is just the first step.