Diabetes has become the world’s fastest-growing chronic disease. According to a 2021 report by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), approximately 537 million adults (within the age of 20-79 years) are living with diabetes. The total number of people living with diabetes is projected to rise to 643 million by 2030 and 783 million by 2045.
A report from ICMR found that India is home to the world’s second-largest adult diabetes population. “Every sixth person with diabetes in the world is an Indian. The past three decades witnessed a 150 per cent increase in the number of people with diabetes in the country,” the ICMR report said.
Diabetes has become a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke, and lower limb amputation. According to the WHO, 1.5 million deaths are directly attributed to diabetes each year. Diabetes self-management is crucial in treating the disease.
Redefining diabetes care with AI:
Diagnosis and treatment of disease has been at the core of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare, in recent years. Several AI-based techniques have emerged and been applied in diabetes care. According to the World Economic Forum, leveraging predictive analytics by using AI for early detection can be a powerful tool for targeted public health interventions, especially in the context of limited healthcare capacity and delayed disease detection capabilities outside of urban centres.
AI-enabled tools offer opportunities to bridge these inequities and reach AI maturity in the healthcare market in India, which is expected to reach $372 billion this year. The use of AI and machine learning has added newer dimensions of self-care for patients with diabetes, introduced rapid and reliable decision-making and flexible follow-ups for healthcare providers and optimized resource utilization in healthcare systems.
For instance, NITI Aayog has been testing the application of AI in primary care for early detection of diabetes complications. It is currently validating the use of AI as a screening tool in eye care, by comparing its diagnostic accuracy with that of retina specialists. By integrating AI capabilities with portable screening devices, such as 3Nethra, it can expand the capacity for eye screenings and early detection and enable access in remote places across the country. 3Nethra is a device for early detection of diabetic retinopathy using AI-based retinal imaging APIs.
For contributing to the cause, few digital health companies are taking the initiative to lessen this burden with the help of technology. They are leveraging technological advancements to innovate diabetes care solutions like non-invasive insulin delivery systems, continuous glucose monitoring devices, and digital diabetes management platforms.
On WDD, here are a few Indian startups who are leveraging AI and contributing to help diabetes care evolve:
Artelus: Bengaluru-based deep learning startup Artelus focuses on creating and predicting Early Warning Systems to prevent fatal diseases and ailment. Its Diabetic Retinopathy Screening (DRISTi), an AI-based solution is designed to detect diabetic retinopathy (DR) by using deep learning algorithms during the eye check-up screening process instantaneously.
BeatO: Delhi-based BeatO’s digital health platform combines real-time monitoring via its IoT-connected devices and app ecosystem to provide AI-driven personalized insights and proactive intervention by doctors and health coaches, to patients with chronic condition such as diabetes.
ChironX: Headquartered in Gurugram, ChionX uses deep tech company solving healthcare diagnostics using AI, data science and advanced image processing. It detects retinal disorders associated with diabetes by analyzing retinal fundus images with an accuracy of more than 95%.
DiaBeats: To tackle the issue of diabetes, a group of Indian researchers from the Lata Medical Research Foundation in Nagpur, developed an AI algorithm that can predict diabetes and pre-diabetes from individual heartbeats recorded on an ECG (electrocardiogram).
HealthifyMe: This Bengaluru-based company has rolled out a conversational AI called Ria, that can answer nutritional queries by combining technological prowess and advice from professionals. It also suggests diet routines to better manage diabetes.
Orbuculum: This Chennai-based healthcare startup uses AI on genomic data to predict the likelihood of chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes.
Wellthy Therapeutics: Mumbai-based startup Wellthy Therapeutics, a digital therapeutic solution delivers AI augmented disease management program for people with diabetes.