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A Malaysian doctor's mission to promote women's health through mobile apps: interview

AvantiKumar | Sept. 29, 2015
In an interview with Computerworld, Dr A Baskaran, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist of Manipal Hospitals Klang, Malaysia, speaks of his passion to promote women's health and wellbeing through his work as a mobile app developer.

Dr Baskaran Arunasalam (A Baskaran), consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist of Manipal Hospitals Klang has extended his passion to care for women's health to beyond consultation and treatment. In exploring ways to educate women on health matters beyond the clinic/hospital, he chanced upon mobile apps as the way to fulfil this passion.

Three years ago, he developed several mobile apps on Women's Health, some of which are Top 100 Apps for medical in close to 100 countries. The Apps for iPhone and Android, translated into 16 languages, have recorded 6,000 to 9,000 downloads a day and there are 600,000 to 700,000 active users worldwide.

The latest is the updated Women's Health Diary, which is only available on iPhone. He designed it as a comprehensive app for women with features like Weight & BMI, Calories Requirement, Daily Calories Intake, Menstrual Cycle, Women's Health Immunisation, Medication Diary, and Health Appointments.

Dr Baskaran obtained his MBBS from University of Malaya in year 1985, MRCOG (UK) in 1991 and AM in 1997. He was involved in a number of research projects in Foetal Medicine and has won several awards in research, including the Young Investigators Award by the Academy of Medicine Malaysia - Singapore in 1993 and Best Obstetrics Paper Award by the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Society of Malaysia in 1996.

In 1995, he was awarded an IRPA Grant by the Ministry of Science and Technology for his research project, "The Foetal Frequency Phonocardiograph as a Foetal Monitoring Facility".  Dr Baskaran has published many papers in peer review journals. He has also written two books - "Guidebook in Obstetrics and Gynaecology for Medical Officers (1995)", and "Understanding Fertility and Infertility (2001)". He is the past Chairman of the Malaysian Medical Association, Selangor Branch and past President of the Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Malaysia.

In an interview with Computerworld Malaysia, Dr Baskaran speaks of his mission to promote women's wellbeing as a mobile app developer.

Dr A Baskaran, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Manipal Hospitals 

Photo - Dr A. Baskaran, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist of Manipal Hospitals Klang, Malaysia.

Could you tell us what inspired you to develop mobile health apps for women?

I have always been very interested in technology and medicine. Some of my research papers while I was in the Ministry of Health about 20 years ago were based on this. One of projects I was very interested in undertaking at that time was to incorporate a foetal kick monitor into a watch for pregnant women to monitor their foetal movements. We had that technology 20 years ago. Remember the watches where you pressed a button and a voice would say, "The time is 12 o'clock". However, I was unable to get it off the ground at that time as it was cost prohibitive and watch makers did not consider it commercially viable.

But with the advent of smart phones and mobile apps, I decided to revisit the idea. That began my search for a technology partner and I was directed to Agmo Studio with whom I was able to develop the Foetal Kick Count mobile app. And that spawned other apps, spurred on by the objective of a better outreach for women especially in education and active participation of their health.

What was the first mobile app delivered by you and since then, how many more apps have you produced?

Foetal Kick Count was my first mobile app that was successfully developed. Currently we have 12 applications each in both Google Play and Apple Store. They are:

1.  My Menstrual Diary
2.  My Ovulation Calculator
3.  Weight Calorie Watch
4.  Women's Health Diary
5.  My Pregnancy Calculator
6.  Women's Health Screening
7.  Women's Health Immunization
8.  Women's Health Appointments
9.  Weight and BMI Diary
10. Foetal Kick Count
11. Antenatal Appointments
12. My Menstrual Diary Pro


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