Nexus Incubator-trained BoomNBuzz’s portable, renewable energy-powered health platform provides diagnosis and health screening in rural India.
BoomNBuzz’s CozBoz device delivers health awareness and educational content in an audiovisual format. Courtesy Buddha Burman
India’s large population poses a challenge for the country’s health care system, complicated further by the fact that about 70 percent of its 1.3 billion people live in rural areas, where it is much harder to access care as compared to urban areas. According to the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence, for instance, as of 2017, while 84 percent of India’s government hospitals are in rural areas, these hold only 39 percent of the total government beds. Social tech entrepreneur Buddha Burman witnessed these rural health struggles firsthand, having grown up in the Leh-Ladakh region. He decided to found BoomNBuzz in 2018, with the goal of providing affordable technology solutions and health and skill development training to the underserved population.
The New Delhi-based start-up has created a portable technology-enabled health platform, equipped to provide primary health care and screen chronic conditions. This renewable energy-powered device can create digital pop-up health centers in hard-to-reach areas, without the need for grid electricity, Internet or expensive infrastructure. The major components of the health care platform and application include the renewable energy-powered CozBoz, a device that delivers health awareness and educational content in an audiovisual format. CozBoz-Buddy creates a network for the medical diagnostic data to travel to and from villages where mobile data networks don’t exist or are very erratic. The CozBoz-Buddy ecosystem also powers Mera Checkup, a tech platform which provides access to low-cost health assessment, diagnosis and health monitoring. BoomNBuzz has received training at the Nexus Incubator start-up hub at the American Center New Delhi.
Excerpts from an interview with Burman.
Could you tell us a bit about BoomNBuzz?
At BoomNBuzz, we develop innovative and affordable technology solutions for the underserved population. Our solutions help create education and health care centers on the fly, in hard-to-reach areas. We provide skill training and health screening services in a simple and easy way.
What problems drew you to the education and health sectors and why did you feel technology could help?
Education and health are interlinked, and illiteracy has a direct impact on human health. For example, many people are not able to read the instructions on a medicine bottle. Or the consequences can be widespread, for example, as people are less likely to know facts about AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases. It means that they will be less likely to know about prevention and support services, and how to use lifesaving medicines and other treatments impacting their day-to-day life.
Today, it is less about access to technology and more about participation. Participation includes the quality of engagement and what people are doing with the technology that they have access to. This, along with our experience in the rural areas that we visited, motivated us to start thinking about something that could bridge the digital divide.
What does your vision for a virtual education/health care system entail?
We have designed our system for emergency and crisis situations, keeping in mind that there might be no grid power, no Internet, no trained people, and we would want to get reports and updates over the Internet. Our solution is affordable, portable, easy to set up, solar-powered, online and offline, with a focus on health and skill development. Keeping our solution modular will help us scale fast, with wide scope for improvement over time. Features can be changed easily due to its plug-and-play approach. Also, we will train locals to become health educators and tech support resources.
Our overall mission is to develop innovative and affordable technology solutions in the field of health and education, which impact the lives of millions of people across the globe. We aim to impact and empower 1,000,000 people by 2022 and contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
What do you see as being the most important emerging health and technology topics in the future?
Artificial intelligence and machine learning offer new and better ways to identify diseases, diagnose conditions, develop treatment plans, create efficiencies in medical research and clinical trials, and make operations more efficient to handle. Telepresence will be used more effectively with the penetration of 5G Internet. This will help doctors examine and treat patients efficiently in rural areas.
Wearable tech, like ECG monitors that can detect atrial fibrillation and send reports to your doctor, blood pressure monitors, self-adhesive biosensor patches that track your temperature, heart rate and more, will help in the detection and prevention of chronic conditions. With 3D printing, now a doctor can replicate patient-specific organs to help prepare for procedures. 3D printing makes it easier to cost-effectively develop comfortable prosthetic limbs and other organs.
What were some of your biggest takeaways from working with the Nexus Incubator?
The mentoring and support provided by the Nexus team was one of the biggest takeaways of the incubation program. We are continually seeking support and advice from Nexus. The program actually saved a lot of our precious time by proving the right direction for commercialization and helping BoomNBuzz pivot business models several times until we hit the right product or market fit.
We learned that it is very important to map and highlight other key players in the ecosystem and understand their contributions. The mapping exercise helped us to understand potential partners or competition. We learned the need to be clear and confident in our values to customers and stakeholders, and deliver on it! Also, going out and meeting the customers and stakeholders was one of the best parts of the program. We learned a lot from the customers, vendors, mentors and industry experts.
Jason Chiang is a freelance writer based in Silver Lake, Los Angeles.