The researchers at the Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology, University of California Davis, stuck a single ball lens into the camera of an iPhone and rendered it into a microscope. The team published a paper in PLoS One recently, claiming that the images taken by this device can be used to accurately diagnose a variety of blood diseases.

At Tech Crunch's recent Disrupt event, developers managed to convert the iPhone into a heart monitor (Smartheart) and melanoma detection device (Skin Scan). Increasingly, people are looking toward the area that intersects medicine and technology to see if applications or devices can be developed to bridge the gap.

The results often are low-cost technologies that are easy to use but, in the reckoning, seldom used. The Indian medical industry, there are complaints, has always been slow to open its arms to technology unless it has been endorsed by the West, citing the likely impact on the life of people.

That, in essence, is why Invive Healthcare exists. Anshuman Chaudhary, and Kaustubh Chandrabhan, two IIT-Delhi graduates, saw the potential of the unexplored and yet pregnant-with-possibilities sector of medical technology early this year. Invive was the enterprise that followed, to aggregate medical technologies across the globe, evaluate it for applications, and packaging it for the Indian market. Another batchmate, Hiteshwar Jha, joined later in the year.

“We focus on commercialising in India the latest technologies and developments happening globally. We act as a bridge between innovators and healthcare providers in India by partnering with the technology providers and creating a market place for them through our sales and distribution channels,” explains Mr. Chaudhary.

“Commercialisation is the key in the medical devices segment since innovation which is not commercialised is essentially worthless.”

With a projected compound average growth rate of 20 per cent over the next five years, the $3 billion Indian medical device industry offers a rapid growth market for medical tech companies, he says.

Invive also saw that Indian manufacturers are primarily focused on medical supplies and disposables, and the technology intensive segments of the market are being catered to by foreign manufacturers, some of which have Indian subsidiaries. Imports form an estimated 50-60 per cent of the market by value, Mr. Chaudhary adds.

So far, Invive has been successful in marketing state-of-the-art devices in gastrointestinal diagnostics and is making headway with some eye-care products, he claims. Indeed, it has not been easy. “As far as doctors go, there is a barrier for the entry of technologies, primarily because of the impact on life. Technology has to enter through recommendations of key leaders in the field, top physicians, or surgeons will have to test and then introduce it to the community for it to be acceptable,” he says.

The ultimate aim is to take up franchisee manufacturing of these devices in the country to push prices down. Mr. Chaudhary adds: “In fact, we have already spoken to a couple of firms, incubated by the Stanford-India Biodesign programme to develop lowcost medical devices that are in the process of launching such devices.”