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Phloton: Revolutionizing Last-Mile Immunization and Diagnostics Delivery

Phloton: Revolutionizing Last-Mile Immunization and Diagnostics Delivery

Ankita Mittal , CEO, Enhanced Innovations Pvt. Ltd.


Q: Could you please provide an overview of Enhanced Innovations Pvt. Ltd?

Ankita Mittal: Enhanced Innovations is an innovation development and translation organization where we focus on taking innovative technology solutions for last-mile healthcare services from lab to market. As development sector professionals, Prerit (my brother) and I set up Enhanced Innovations in 2021 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic with a mission to make healthcare services accessible through point of care solutions. The potential of our solutions has so far been recognized by MEITY, DST, Social Alpha and Selco Foundation through various awards and grants. Enhanced Innovations holds an ISO 13485 license as a medical device company.


Q: Could you tell us more about the projects that Enhanced Innovations is currently working on, particularly focusing on Phloton?

Ankita Mittal: At Enhanced Innovations, we are constantly exploring tech-based opportunities to create sustainable avenues for underserved communities to access healthcare where and when they need it. We currently have 3 projects in our pipeline at different stages of technology development, prototyping and commercialization. One of our projects is a point-of-care diagnostic kit based on Crispr technology which is currently at testing stage with CDSCO licence. Our second project is a point-of-service bone health screening kit that can help in diagnosing serious bone disorders. Our first project which is now close to going into commercial production is Phloton, a cold chain solution to plug the gap in last-mile immunization and diagnostics delivery. We are currently in the process of filing for a CDSCO manufacturing license.

Phloton is a portable, active cooling device that can be used to strengthen point-of-care services for immunization, medication and diagnostics delivery. It can help in transporting temperature sensitive vaccines, medicines and diagnostics samples safely while maintaining the required temperature.


Q: Phloton aims to improve last-mile healthcare delivery, specifically focusing on immunization and diagnostics for maternal and child health. How does Phloton address the existing challenges in these areas, and what makes it unique?

Ankita Mittal: If we consider India alone, without going to other vulnerable populations in the Global South – we have 91 districts where less than 50% children are fully immunized against preventable life-threatening diseases. Further, almost 4 Crore pregnant women and new born children are not fully immunized. This is despite far reaching and critical programs on immunization implemented by the government. Additionally, 50% of all temperature sensitive vaccines manufactured in the world go to waste, as per WHO estimates. Multiple factors have contributed to this scenario, and two important factors are the insufficiency of the last-mile cold chain capacity and inadequate monitoring of temperatures. These gaps lead to vaccine spoilage – which can lead to women and children being administered ineffective or no vaccines.

Phloton addresses these gaps by ensuring temperature sensitive vaccines are stored and transported safely while maintaining the required temperature. The device itself is designed in an ergonomic manner, making it easy for handling by last mile health care workers.


Q: The healthcare sector faces various challenges in vaccine delivery systems, especially in rural areas. What are some of the key barriers that Enhanced Innovations has identified, and how does the company plan to address them?

Ankita Mittal: As we have discussed, the cold chain capacity and weak monitoring mechanisms have contributed greatly to vaccine delivery systems not being as effective as required. These factors can contribute to the non-availability of vaccines when needed in the rural areas, or increase vaccine wastage. These problems are more systemic in nature due to the topography of India – extreme climate conditions make it challenging for healthcare workers to ensure 100% immunization coverage while also ensuring the vaccines are not wasted. This coupled with an occasional social resistance to immunization is especially detrimental to the vaccine delivery systems in rural areas.

At Enhanced Innovations, we plan to tackle the issue of vaccine availability and traceability by ensuring the vaccines or medicines are delivered while being safely transported within their recommended temperature range. Constant temperature monitoring will enable the healthcare workers to ensure there is no extreme temperature exposure and an off-grid (solar) charging system will ensure there is no downtime for the device.


Q: Can you discuss the importance of sustainable approaches to vaccine logistics and how Enhanced Innovations incorporates efficiency and environmental impact considerations into its solutions?

Ankita Mittal: There is a definite need for sustainable and long-term solutions to the challenges within vaccine logistics. At Enhanced Innovations, we asked ourselves this question when we were working on the idea for Phloton. The device is aimed for the remotest, most extreme geographies of not only India but the entire developing world – how do we make sure we reduce the burden on the existing ecosystem in such low resource settings? So we developed a solar panel module which can easily charge the Phloton device in the absence of grid power – ensuring that the device does not solely rely on external or non-renewable power sources.  This integration of solar panels into the Phloton solution was also recognized at the Social Alpha Tectonic Challenge for Energy Startups.


Q: Temperature sensitivity is a critical factor in healthcare product distribution. What are the major challenges associated with maintaining the required temperature conditions during transportation, and how does Enhanced Innovations tackle these challenges?

Ankita Mittal: We have briefly discussed the cold chain capacity and temperature monitoring challenges in healthcare product distribution, especially vaccines. High value cancer drugs are also highly temperature sensitive – access to these life-saving medicines is limited due to this temperature sensitivity. The same applies to diagnostic reagents and even samples.

To give you an example, at an ambient temperature of 35 degree Celsius, the ice-packs that are traditionally used to store and transport vaccines, lose 50% of their coldness within 60 minutes. This makes them an unreliable storage mechanism for temperature sensitive vaccines, medicines and diagnostics.

Through Phloton, we are able to address these problems by maintaining a chamber temperature of 4 deg Celsius or lower in ambient temperatures ranging between -20 deg Celsius and 65 deg Celsius for at least 10 hours, depending on the ambient temperature. The device is currently equipped to carry up to 60 vials in its 2 litre chamber which can be scaled up to 50 litres. This makes its application to all aspects of the healthcare cold chain easy – especially with its simple plug and play modality.

We have developed Phloton as a solution to plug all last-mile cold chain gaps that prevent rural India from accessing 100% immunization, critical medication and reliable diagnostics. At Enhanced Innovations, we wish to make quality healthcare accessible to every individual.

Articles about interviews | March - 28 - 2024



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