After successful trials of malaria disease tracking in Dibrugrah district in Assam, experts at Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) have now extended the use of technology to develop an electronic pill box, which will automatically send alerts to the system tracking tuberculosis (TB). TB is highly prevalent among tea plantation workers of Assam. C-DAC has partnered with Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to identify the risk factors and provide timely medical assistance, all on mobile and web-based platforms.
Not only will the information add to the real-time data of the disease being gathered, but also help improve the treatment adherence in this hilly terrain, where a large number of suffering patients live in inaccessible areas. This system — Tuberculosis Treatment Adherence System —using Information Communi-cations Technology (ICT) and mobile technology (mDOTS), will be deployed at a select TB units, each covering a population of about 6 lakh, in the district.
Experts are hopeful that with better surveillance system, the Multi-Drug Resistent-TB (MDR-TB) and Extra Drug-Resistent-TB (XDR-TB) can also be largely curtailed. C-DAC has been involved in developing technology using ICT for strengthening the surveillance system in public health care existing in the north east, particularly in Assam and Tripura. Explaining the idea of the e-pill box, currently in its trial stages, was team member of C-DAC’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) team Ganesh Karajkhede, who said, “ The basic purpose of e-pill box, is to obtain real-time data from the first-hand user, that is the patient. This will help strengthen the mechanism of gathering and tracking the disease.”
However, scientists find the duration of the treatment regime the biggest challenge, which may also derail the tracking these patients, given that TB treatment can last anytime between six to nine months continuously.
“There is also IVRS-based and SMS alerts sent to patients, which has helped bring more patients to follow required treatment schedule. Now, fewer number of patients reportedly miss any dosages of medicine,” explained Lakshmi Panat, joint director of AI team.