HealthCube BioChem: a miniature lab for primary care essentials

by | Dec 9, 2021

Prabha is 27 years old, and a mother of an infant. After childbirth, she has been feeling extremely tired and on some days, she just does not feel like attending to even simple chores. Her mother is worried about her and they visit the closest PHC. She is expecting that the doctor will send her to the laboratory 15 km away, for a test but to her surprise, the doctor takes out a nifty device out of a bag. She uses a needle to make a small prick and uses that drop of blood to test for hemoglobin. Within a minute she has the result, which confirms that Prabha is anemic. She needs an iron supplement. Prabha and her mother are relieved that they know what is wrong and that there is a treatment. After being on the supplement for 3 months, Prabha is back on her feet, feeling fit and enjoying motherhood. The fact that she did not have to travel for the test and see the doctor twice to get a prescription, made all the difference in enabling a quick recovery.

Anemia is rampant in India. So are diabetes and dyslipidemia. The only way to detect these conditions is through a blood test. Unfortunately, most people, like Prabha, lack access to the necessary diagnostic facilities. At HealthCubed, we understand this problem and know that waiting for the infrastructure to be built, personnel to be deployed and access to be eased is not a solution that our communities can wait for. We asked ourselves how we can help the millions of Indians who so badly need simple blood-based tests that can save them from chronic illnesses through timely detection.

This thought process was the genesis of the HealthCube BioChem device. It was designed to perform tests for Blood Glucose, Cholesterol, Uric Acid and Hemoglobin levels with just a drop of blood and to be operated using an app on the phone which displays and saves the result. Our goal was to create a device that a doctor, nurse, ANM, Anganwadi worker, social entrepreneur or any other healthcare provider would routinely use, just like a blood pressure monitor or a weighing scale.

The team behind the device

Digitally enabled medical devices require multiple teams to play tango. Moreover, the design of the device is a key aspect of its acceptability by users. How should it look so a user finds it easy and friendly? What should be the size if the device has to fit on the desk of a doctor? What about the colour and material? Once the design is conceptualized, then the inside of the device with all its electronics have to be compactly fitted. The design and hardware teams go through iterative cycles to get this right. Finally, the software team designs the app and develops the backend to ensure that the data is safely saved and can be retrieved correctly for anyone who is tested repeatedly. 

The HealthCube development team is ably led by the trio of  Dharminder, Nikhilesh, and Nishant who handle design, hardware and firmware and software respectively. Their teams were able to rapidly prototype, test and take to completion a device that fits neatly into the palm of the hand and meets the requirements of a medical grade device. 

Performance evaluation and Quality control

Once the device was fully functional, the next step was to verify  its accuracy and precision and the reliability of its accompanying software. Enter Snehasis and Shyamsundar, our testing and validation duo. While Snehasis focused on evaluating the performance of the device, Shyamsundar tested the application was reporting results correctly and able to handle exceptions and errors.  Finally, the quality and regulatory team put together a rigorous quality control protocol so that each device shipped to the customer had the mark of quality that HealthCube is proud of. They also developed a user manual and videos for teaching people to use the device.

This is how the HealthCube BioChem came to life. Over just four months, each member of the HealthCubed product development team played a crucial role. We present to you a device that can transform primary care.

The Author


Dr. Radha Rangarajan

Chief Technology Officer – HealthCube