According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 360 million people or about 5.3% of world’s population lives with disabling hearing loss. Of these, 75 million people live with hearing disability in India alone.1,2 Many of these patients risk losing their ability to hear permanently, primarily due to lack of awareness, access or affordability of treatment options.
Our Mission at Medtronic is to Alleviate Pain, Restore Health, and Extend Life; and this resonates with everything that we do at Medtronic. The goals of improving clinical outcomes, expanding access and optimizing cost and efficiency are fundamental to all healthcare systems world over. So while we are constantly working towards developing high-quality therapies that positively impact people’s lives, we also know that it is important to improve access to quality and affordable healthcare so that everyone can benefit from it, no matter where they live. With this in mind, we launched an innovative program called ‘Shruti’ in India in 2013.
Shruti is a unique initiative that harnesses the power of partners and technology to address the critical need for low-cost ear care for the underserved communities in India. At one level, Shruti partners with public and private health practices, charitable organizations, non-governmental organizations, non-profits, and government institutions; to bring together the experience and infrastructure needed to address a healthcare problem of this scale.
At another, Shruti reimagines the new way in which ear-care reaches homes and communities of the patients to enhance the impact of its partners. To do this, people from the local community are trained & upskilled to work as health-workers who then organize camps and go door-to-door screening patients. These health-workers are armed with an innovative screening device that combines a traditional otoscope with a smartphone and is used to collect and transmit data to our health partners for diagnostic assistance.
As a result of this program, patients who initially had to travel far distances and pay large sums to see specialists, now receive the initial screening at their home followed with affordable care from ’Shruti’ ENT partner doctors.
Shruti is a health system innovation from Medtronic and aligns with Government’s vision of “Make in India”, as the Ear Screening Kit is completely designed and manufactured in India (Bengaluru and Chennai, respectively). Shruti program drives “Digital India”, by ensuring the use of information technology to expand last mile access to quality healthcare and make ear care affordable. Lastly, Shruti program also supports “Skill India” through the training programs for Community Health Workers, which has resulted in upskilling and creation of jobs.
Recently, Business Call to Action, a United Nations Development initiative, studied the impact of Shruti program over a sample of 400 Shruti patients. They noted that 55% of Shruti patients live under USD 4 per day and over 85% reported improved daily lives post-treatment. Over 28% of patients also reported that before the Shruti worker reached out to them, they did not know where to go for treatment. Further, the study also appreciated the program for generating meaningful employment by upskilling people from the same local communities to function as health-workers.
These findings reinforce our core philosophy that it is possible to improve patient access and create social impact at the same time. The program that started in 2013 with 4 pilot sites, today has grown to operate across 25 sites in India, screening over 390,000 people and providing subsidized treatment to many, which is a significant milestone for Shruti. It makes us proud that many people were saved from permanent hearing disability because of the program and the involvement of the community health workers who have worked relentlessly in implementing it. In the absence of Shruti program, most of those screened would have never visited an ENT specialist or would not have even realized that they were suffering from a medical condition. However, there is still more that needs to be done and the Shruti team will cross many new milestones in taking healthcare, Further, Together.
1.WHO datacentre http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs300/en/
2. DGHS, Govt. of India http://dghs.gov.in/content/1362_