Please tell us about yourself
Iam a biomedical engineer by profession and an aspiring innovator in medical devices, passionate about putting to use my knowledge and experience to bring affordable healthcare into the market. My expertise varies from quick hacks in troubleshooting hospital equipment to designing a medical product from the ground up.
Currently i work with MUSE Diagnostics (Medical Utility Scientific Equipment Inc) as the Chief Innovation Officer, a med-tech startup based out of Bengaluru.
Given the lackadaisical attitude we have towards our health in India, how do you plan to get healthcare on everyone’s priority list?
I have been focused on solving the unmet clinical needs of the society. Being one of the most flourished and glorified markets globally, healthcare is still questionable on the grounds of affordability and impact to benefit all communities equally. I am dedicated to redesigning medical devices to suit the needs of the lifestyle of the work obsessed era we live in, effectively. While I work with a medtech startup, MUSEinc, I see an opportunity to gather more of the makers to experiment with open source technologies to create affordable medical devices that are accessible even to the rural.
Tell us how your career evolved over the years?
I’m a Biomedical Engineer who has opted to go open source after some active years in core research with some of the top institutes in the country. I conceptualize solutions for clinical needs working along the lines of disruptive innovation. I develop ideas into impact products with a smart and user centric approach.
MUSE visions to improve effective diagnostics at an affordable cost by using and producing open source technologies
Did you envision yourself as a doctor while growing up?
When I was a kid, I had to be hospitalized due to the complexity of my situation and this turned the world upside down for my family. Being affected by pneumonia and few more diseases all at once, my days were highlighted by medications, painful injections and examinations.
And that’s when I realized the pain wasn’t mine alone, it affected my family way more. This incident made me aspire to be a “patient friendly” doctor who could take away the pain from treatment. After this, the games I played, topics I spoke about etc were related to “patient friendly” doctor.
Have your studies helped in actualising your career aspirations?
As mentioned earlier, I wanted to be a patient friendly doctor who took away pain. But as I grew up, I realized a comfortable treatment is not solely at the hands of the doctor but the instruments they use too. This reality led me to take up Biomedical Engineering. I am still in love with the field that gives me the opportunity to innovate in healthcare.
So, yes I’ve become what I studied to be.
What made you choose an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career such as Biomedical engineering as an answer to health care problems?
Reading about health care issues, coupled with plenty cases where one loses their dear ones to diseases, I got more curious about the prevalence of healthcare tragedies.
This made me do a lot of research on this issue. I got to read about Biomedical Engineering, a field that has the potential to solve the healthcare issues to a large extent. By my 10th standard, I decided to take up biomedical engineering. Being a field that collaborates both medicine and engineering, this excited me. My family supported and encouraged me to prepare to take up this field even though it was not a popular stream.
Given the unconventional stream you’ve chosen, tell us about your struggles that you faced during the course?
Choices I had to make were my struggles. Choosing a rare stream like Biomedical Engineering was the first risk. Being a girl born into a conservative extended family, my unconventional way of thinking always left most of them doubtful about my interests, future and “safety”. I opted to convince rather than go against them. Eventually the more aware they became about the field, its possibilities and my potential, they turned out to be my supporters.
More than the choice I made, it was harder to convince people of the very reason that drives my different approach to addressing issues. To add on, I studied in organizations that tagged a curious student as a rebel, and that was never in a positive way; forget how a woman standing up to voice a different opinion had to face.
Subject scores were your intelligence and attendance defined your discipline. Exposure was out of the picture. I chose to think different and break stereotypes. I got into IEEE and with a few yet very supportive individuals, I was successful in laying the foundation for change and reflecting through our acts the importance of understanding the worth of opportunities and leaving a mark at the platform which gave you exposure.
The impact that led to, the present day, gives me much joy. I was a rebel and it did cost me but I am glad I did not follow the flock blindly and had my thoughts structured.
Tell us about a few products that you developed?
My first product was “An Automated Acupressure Glove for Stress & Pain Relief” – an ergonomic & wearable solution to provide acupressure therapy with utmost effectiveness and consuming less time and effort, enabling its usage by anyone, anywhere and anytime. Based on clinical review, it reduced over 50% of the time and effort. Following this, I guided another medical device project on developing an auto retractable assistive device for dialysis patients, which further strengthened my concepts in the fields of medical electronics, rapid prototyping and ergonomics.
How do you see the scenario changing for women professionals in the workspace?
Thanks to gender equality policies and broader mentality of the society, I see a positive lift in the opportunities for women. Definitely because women themselves have made impact to such an extent that it couldn’t be ignored. We have amazing women speaking up for women.
Know your worth- I would want to encourage more women to stand up for themselves. Learn to feel good about yourself. Never let your mistakes define you. It is fine to make mistakes. Rather make new mistakes and take the right lessons. Remember, you won’t know unless you try.
Discover your potentials- The world will not stop if you are devoting some time for yourself. You discover your hidden potentials. Make use of them. Companies now have provisions where you can choose your working hours. But again, your company, you define your timings. Hence, entrepreneurship.
Grow and assure your fellow beings grow- Find your passion, infect people with it. Bring in people who share your vision and build a great team. Put in every bit of you to make your dream a reality. Make an impact and reach out to the rest and help them grow.
Be open to criticism- Learning from your interactions. Stay a learner. There is always something to learn.
Clarity of thought along with the freedom to dream. If you are firm on your goal, self-confidence and motivation becomes your companion naturally. Make sure your efforts leave a mark. Don’t let a random third person discourage you because you think differently. Remember, innovation is not disrupting unless it’s being owned by the ones it is made for.
How do you aim to carry forward your vision?
Training and inspiring the younger innovators to disrupt healthcare. Gathering other little Anjalis to make an impact together. Because they are always full of energy and too hard to be discouraged.