John Hoffmire: MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA) named you among the Top 35 Innovators under 35 years of age in the world on the TR35 2012 list. Please tell us more about that?
Vipin: As an ophthalmologist, I was keenly aware of how difficult it was for a doctor to access past information about a particular patient. Written records at a single center are not only difficult for a doctor to access, but also cumbersome for a patient to carry to each visit. So I designed a paperless system that spans the entire patient database at LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), one of the India largest eye care networks. This system allows a doctor to access the medical records of a patient from any of its clinics. The eyeSmart EMR (Electronic Medical Record) is a distributed database linked to a central database, which makes the data at all urban and rural centers available in real time.
I designed this web-based model based on the PHP platform, which provides a detailed summary of the patient’s examination each time he or she visits a clinic. Apart from the advantages of convenience to both the doctor and the patient, this model has cut costs on printing as well as reduced the number of hours required for maintaining written records. It has also increased operational efficiency across the LVPEI network. The eyeSmart EMR also allows for online booking of appointments and personalized SMS alerts.
The software currently links all clinical and administrative functions with patient records across 220+ centers in the LVPEI Network and 38 customer locations across five countries (India, Liberia, Cambodia, Mexico and the Dominican Republic). The EMR has facilitated over 6.3 million patient consults to date and is equipped with big data analytics and machine learning models.
John: You both excel in science as an ophthalmologist, and in technology as a successful entrepreneur. Why did you blend these two interests in your work?
Vipin: In many ways, they are two sides of the same coin. As an ophthalmologist, my effort to provide the best possible care as well as expand the body of knowledge regarding ocular science is one side of the coin. The fact that we rely on data we can collect and analyze regarding a patient’s history, treatment, and the efficacy of that treatment is the technology side of the coin. The two sides work very much together in a symbiotic relationship and this is one of the reasons I love what I do. I strongly believe that the most exciting discoveries and impact happen at the intersection of different disciplines. One must actively make an effort to understand both sides of the coin. All you need is the spirit of exploration and the zeal for learning!
John: Tell me more about The AEye Project, if you will.
Vipin: The AEye Project is generating new knowledge from the research published from the eyeSmart EMR database of over 6.3+ million patient consults. The insights from this big data will contribute to the understanding of ocular disorders in the context of Indian Ophthalmology and the World, as well. We have been publishing new knowledge from the eyeSmart EMR database in peer reviewed journals and have published 32 original articles over the past two years. We are mining these large datasets generated over a decade across the LVPEI network to seek new insights and uncover patterns to help improve the
understanding of ocular disorders and thereby improving the delivery of eye care in India. The most current research work can be accessed at https://www.researchgate.net/project/The-AEye-Project.
John: I know you are also busy with additional projects and organizations you are involved with.
Vipin: I do manage to keep busy. I’m a member of the International Task Force for Emerging Technologies for Teaching and Learning at the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) and developed the digital platform for the ICO-OSCAR initiative that helps ocular surgeons grade their surgical skills across the world. I had served as an Advisor on Healthcare Innovation to the Ministry of Medical, Health and Family Welfare, Government of Telangana, India, which was a great learning experience. I have always had a very special interest in the development of technologies and tools for the visually impaired such as FITTLE
– the world’s first 3D braille puzzle. And I’m a TED Senior Fellow.
John: Don’t forget that you were also a Chevening Research, Science and Innovation Leadership Fellowship (CRISP) program at St. Cross College at Oxford University in 2018.
Vipin: I was and that is were we met. Chevening is the UK Government’s international awards scheme aimed at developing global leaders. Funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organizations, the recipients are personally selected by British embassies and high commissions throughout the world. Being part of the Chevening programme called CRISP
offered me a unique opportunity to meet and study with leaders and influencers from all over India and Sri Lanka. It also gave me the chance to develop professionally and academically, network extensively, and experience UK and Oxford culture. The Chevening CRISP program and the mentorship offered by all of you has changed my life. It continues to be one of the most powerful and important fellowships I have had in my life and it has shaped my thinking and perspective to scale eyeSmart EMR globally to combat avoidable blindness.
John: It was clear when I met you during the CRISP program that you are definitely an exciting leader and influencer in your field. Thank you for the great work you are doing. I wish you all the best and continued success.
Vipin: Thank you for shaping my life, John. It’s been a pleasure talking with you.
Anthony Vipin Das FRCS is a Consultant Ophthalmologist and Associate Director at the L V Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, India, as well as an entrepreneur. He is also an alum of the Chevening Research Science and Innovation Leadership Fellowship (CRISP) program at Oxford (2018)
Interviewer: Dr. John Hoffmire is the Chairman of the Center on Business and Poverty, and Research Associate at the Oxford Centre for Mutual and Co-owned Business