E-auction platforms: Making new, cheaper technology available to doctors

M3 India Newsdesk May 10, 2018

The world's first medical technology e-auction tech portal just launched at India Medical Device 2018, the first of its kind to bridge the gap between industry and academic institutions. Here are more details of the exciting new platform, set to change the healthcare industry in India.

India now has an online portal to facilitate auction of healthcare technology developed by government-funded research labs. This move will help introduce latest innovations to doctors.

Visakhapatnam-based government organisation Kalam Institute of Health Technology (KIHT) has conceived and developed the e-auction platform. It is now live on Medikabazaar, an online marketplace for medical products catered to healthcare organisations.

Currently, 17 products are listed on the auction portal for bidding. These include:

  • A device to check blood glucose level at home for Rs2 per test (lab tests cost anywhere upwards of Rs40 a per test.)
  • An app-supported device touted as the cheapest of its kind that can determine a woman's fertility period.
  • Technology for early diagnosis of tuberculosis.
  • System for accurate guide wire positioning in orthopaedic surgery.

Executive director of KIHT, Dr Jitendar Sharma, explains what this move has in store for doctors. Also the MD and CEO of Andhra Pradesh Medtech Zone, he is the founder-director of South-East Asia's only WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Technology Policy. He is known for leading multiple technology-intensive healthcare projects in India.

Q: How can the e-auction portal help improve healthcare in India?

A: The patient gets what the doctor gives. What does the doctor give? He gives what the industry provides. Industry gives two categories of products: innovative and traditional products. Innovative products need to be marketed unlike traditional products.

The pathway from knowledge to industry does not exist. There is a definite pathway from hospitals to doctors and then to patients. So there needs to be a way to transfer knowledge to industry for innovation. The path of knowledge is complicated and there is tangible and intangible component to that knowledge.

The KIHT e-auction paltform takes tangible and intangible knowledge and while protecting the interest of the innovator, it is ensured that the knowledge that is lying in the research pools and academic institutions reaches the manufacturing industry and ultimately to patients.

E-auction pools patents, material sciences and prototypes and auctions them to industry. This e-auction portal is the first of its kind in the world for medical technology and it will be a big boon for the medical devices industry, care providers and patients, enabling better treatment facilities.

Q: Will this make technology more affordable?

A: An innovative product could be relatively expensive but more cost-effective in terms of outcomes. From the IIT Delhi-engineered smart cane for the visually challenged to the motorised wheelchair, we do have multiple examples that justify this point.

Another example is, suppose there is a research that provides ventilator tubes with minimal infection. It should be encouraged and brought to the application. Such an innovation can save patients and make doctors’ lives easier too because they do not have to do the same thing again and again.

Something could be relatively expensive but we are looking at cost-effectiveness here. So such innovations can reduce the cost of care by making treatment cost-effective.

Promoting innovations

The e-auction portal is expected to unlock the innovative healthcare technologies developed in R&D institutes in the country by making them visible and licensable to the local industry. Most of these innovations are for improving the accuracy or efficiency of diagnosis and treatment of various health conditions.

This will enable doctors to serve more patients and provide better outcomes. Licensing of innovative medical technologies to industry who can manufacture locally (especially in places like AMTZ, where KIHT is located) is expected to significantly reduce the cost of medical devices. This will benefit the majority of patients, especially those in the poorer sections of society

- Prof. B. Ravi of IIT Bombay and member of KIHT platform


Win-win move

The aim of the portal is to bridge the gap between the academia and the industry. The portal will not only introduce new products to the healthcare sector but also help their innovators gain funding, creating scope for improving the prototype.

The launch of the portal was announced at a three-day conference in Bangalore earlier this year, called Indian Medical Device 2018. It was organised by the central government's Department of Pharmaceuticals in partnership with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

It was highlighted at the event that e-auction would help not only research institutes but also doctors and patients in the long run as, ultimately, they are the end users of new technologies.


The story was contributed by Parvathy Jayakrishnan, a Bengaluru-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.

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