Endocrinologists treat people who suffer from hormonal imbalances, typically from glands in the endocrine system or certain types of cancers. The overall goal of treatment is to restore the normal balance of hormones found in a patient's body.
Dr. Abhijit Bhograj, Co-founder and CMO, 7 Sugar, is an endocrinologist and a Medical-social worker with a mission to maximize the potential of Low tech, low data Ai, and low resource settings to improve treatment outcomes, and save lives.
7 sugar - Sensai is a digital therapeutics company that uses artificial intelligence to learn patient physiology and behavioral patterns to deliver lifestyle interventions in real-time. Using the rich data captured doctors are provided with actionable insights to help deliver precision medication.
Origin of 7 sugar
Dr. Abhijit talks in brief about naming the clinic 7 Sugar, “When the whole aspect of the name came about, since the main idea and concept revolved around diabetes, the gold standard of good sugar control or glycaemic control is a test called as HbA1c, and 7 is the cutoff mark for good glycaemic control and sugar is a common term used when it comes to diabetes so that's how the origin of 7 sugar came about,” he says.
Telemedicine for the masses
Dr. Abhijit shares his views, “COVID has pushed a concept that had already been in existence for the past 10 years. Now the concept of telemedicine has come into people's understanding, it was there before, but now it has become mainstream. The important aspect is patients are willing to consult online, where it helps them because quite a lot of people were not able to access specialists in their areas. But when you look at common practice, it should not be misused as a physical consultation cannot be replaced always. So telemedicine should be used as a follow-up and not continuously. Even the rule says that you need to visit your doctor every 6 months. Now the other important aspect is the paper practice, like prescriptions, because we are doing everything online we have been forced to digitize every single aspect of the practice because of which the patient management, prescriptions, patient data, all of this is now moving online because of the pandemic. These are two big changes definitely it will help us deliver better care to our patients,” he says.
Diabetes - a lifestyle disorder
Dr. Abhijit sheds light on the subject, “It's a huge problem that we are facing in India. If you look at the numbers from the recent surveys, we are looking at 72 million Indian diabetics. Diabetes is a silent killer because, there are another 17 million who absolutely have no idea that they have this lifestyle disease, only when things get really bad is when people realize that there's something wrong with their body, this is a big challenge. Also, the number of specialist doctors in India is around 700; endocrinologists, physicians, or diabetologists would be another 10,000 so dealing with such a large number is the next challenge to deliver the correct care. So, that is where we need to take the help of technology but only one person cannot solve this problem, you need an army of people, but again, it becomes impossible to generate that many specialists. And the interesting thing about diabetes is you may suffer from diabetes but the whole family, in the end, is not doing well as it also gets affected and the costs that the person incurs because they have diabetes complications is a huge burden and India cannot afford to have such an exploding burden when it comes to diabetes,” he says.
50 to 60% of the population have uncontrolled sugars
Dr. Abhijit explains, “I and my co-founders started off with the concept of what we wanted to do, each one of us is a doctor. When you're starting your entrepreneurial journey, you need to take the help of experts and all of us came together. So the main concept is a lifestyle disease and lots of young are getting affected by this. The main aspect of the problem is when a person has diabetes, their doctor has probably 3 - 5 minutes to spend with them to take a very detailed aspect about their lifestyle, medication, food, and how they're behaving which is a large amount of information to be collected in those 3 minutes which is impossible. So in 3 minutes, we rely on the reports, and with an educated assumption as to what is happening in the person's body, and then based on that, the treatment is prescribed. About 50 to 60% of the population have uncontrolled sugars because our assumptions are wrong as doctors. So now how do we solve this problem? So we decided, since everyone has cell phones, and quite a lot of people know how to take photographs, we combined the physical activity, the lifestyle and we integrate this information with certain sensors that are now available in the market and these sensors are stuck behind the arm which checks the blood glucose continuously. So correlating everything, we do some analysis and then we come to know exact problem areas in a person's day and also they have an application which is monitoring them between visits using the help of AI to collect information to see what is going on in between the visits so when the person comes back for a follow-up, everything is concise and put into a personalized report which allows the doctor to do a check-up in 3 minutes and quickly make an analysis of what is going on and focus on the problem areas.‘’ he says
Dr. Abhijit concludes by sharing the experience of his journey, ‘’This journey has been amazing because every single person who has undergone this program has a story to tell, for example, a 47-year-old female who became pregnant through IVF had gestational diabetes along with other health complications. Since it was a precious pregnancy, it became very difficult with the pandemic for us to meet. So we used our platform to collect information, take readings from the sensor, she did her tests at home, we were able to look at photographs of her food, all of this was happening remotely. So we were able to keep the sugars in range, be in touch and help her remotely with the outcomes being successful because the biggest risk when the sugars are high during pregnancy is that the child is exposed to high sugars, which lead to a risk of miscarriage or other complications like the size of the baby increases, the changes in the amniotic fluid. So all these variations happen and the risk of losing the child is very high,” he says.
(Edited by Rabia Mistry Mulla)