“Smart dig­i­tal so­lu­tions with AI ca­pa­bil­i­ties to be used to over­come my­opia”

BioSpectrum (Asia) - - Bio Content - Dr Mo Di­rani, Founder, plano

plano Pte Ltd, a Sin­ga­pore based health tech com­pany was es­tab­lished in Septem­ber 2017 to man­age smart de­vice use and my­opia (short­sight­ed­ness) in chil­dren world­wide. The plano app op­er­ates in the back­ground of phones and tablets, both IOS and An­droid, where it cap­tures im­por­tant de­vice and eye health be­hav­iours, pro­vides real-time sci­ence based alerts and re­duces my­opia-re­lated risk fac­tors, such as ex­ces­sive de­vice time, poor eye health habits, face to screen prox­im­ity and lack of out­door ac­tiv­ity. plano was the first spin-off com­pany from the Sin­ga­pore Eye Re­search In­sti­tute (SERI) – Sin­ga­pore Na­tional Eye Cen­tre (SNEC) oph­thalmic tech­nol­ogy in­cu­ba­tor, where it then se­cured ex­ter­nal fund­ing from the Na­tional Health In­no­va­tion Cen­tre (NHIC), fol­lowed by lo­cal an­gel in­vest­ment. The plano app has been de­vel­oped on a bed of sci­ence, us­ing both avail­able lit­er­a­ture as well as mar­ket re­search con­ducted by AntzWorkz Con­sul­tants. The plano app has in-built func­tions to en­sure; re­duced my­opia re­lated risk fac­tors through real-time alerts and parental re­ports; eye health re­fer­ral sys­tem; re­ward based time man­age­ment; points gen­er­ated sys­tem to em­power and en­cour­age de­vice-free ac­tiv­ity, namely out­door ac­tiv­ity and eye health pro­mo­tion.

plano, has re­cently part­nered with Wildlife Re­serves Sin­ga­pore (WRS). Through this year-long col­lab­o­ra­tion, plano users would be en­cour­aged to spend more time out­doors—a key be­havioural el­e­ment that has been sci­en­tif­i­cally proven to be an ef­fec­tive con­trol of my­opia. Dr Mo Di­rani, Founder of plano, spoke to BioSpec­trum Asia about this new part­ner­ship and how the app aims to help mit­i­gate my­opia in chil­dren. Edited ex­cerpts;

Is the app only avail­able in Sin­ga­pore? If so, are there any plans of launch­ing it in other parts of the globe? Does it have a web in­ter­face too?

Cur­rently, the plano app is only avail­able in Sin­ga­pore, where it has al­ready gen­er­ated over 50,000 down­loads. Plans for ex­pan­sion into the re­gion and be­yond are al­ready well un­der­way, with an ex­pected launch into in­ter­na­tional mar­kets in the third and fourth quar­ter of 2018. plano’s web­site is rich in care­fully gen­er­ated blogs, news­let­ters and gen­eral in­for­ma­tion on the ob­jec­tives of the app, with plans to ex­tend plano’s e-com­merce com­po­nent into plano’s web­site.

Please ex­plain plano’s part­ner­ships with gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions like Health Pro­mo­tion Board (HPB) and WRS? How is it go­ing to help mit­i­gate my­opia in chil­dren?

In a short pe­riod of time, plano has es­tab­lished ma­jor part­ner­ships with gov­ern­ment, in­dus­try and re­search in­sti­tutes. Of those, HPB is a ma­jor player, where plano will be pro­moted to over 320,000 chil­dren (pre-school­ers and pri­mary school chil­dren) in the next 12 months. We are work­ing very closely with the team at HPB to bet­ter pre­vent and man­age my­opia, with a fo­cus on out­door ac­tiv­ity, smart de­vice use man­age­ment and em­pow­er­ing fam­i­lies to en­gage in healthy eye habits, such as ob­tain­ing reg­u­lar and timely eye checks. plano will pro­vide HPB with de-iden­ti­fied ag­gre­gate anal­y­sis to as­sist with pol­icy for­mu­la­tion, re­source al­lo­ca­tion and eye health ser­vice delivery. Equally im­por­tant is WRS, will act as a great chan­nel for users to en­gage in out­door ac­tiv­ity, fam­ily out­ings and na­ture-based ed­u­ca­tion ac­tiv­i­ties. We will be work­ing very closely with our part­ners to ul­ti­mately re­duce the risk of sight-threat­en­ing my­opia and pro­vide our next gen­er­a­tion with a bet­ter qual­ity of life.

What are the bet­ter and smarter ways to over­come my­opia and other com­mon eye con­di­tions?

Through co­or­di­nated and col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­forts, we must dis­rupt the tra­di­tional meth­ods of screen­ing, mon­i­tor­ing and managing eye con­di­tions by us­ing smart dig­i­tal so­lu­tions with AI ca­pa­bil­i­ties. For in­stance, plano has gen­er­ated a sub­stan­tial data­base of im­por­tant de-iden­ti­fied data that can be used to; a) con­duct large scale cross-sec­tional and lon­gi­tu­di­nal trans­la­tional re­search; b) im­ple­ment ef­fec­tive eye health pro­mo­tion; c) es­tab­lish life-time data on my­opia and de­vice use be­hav­iour in chil­dren; d) strengthen its in-built al­go­rithms to bet­ter de­tect, mon­i­tor and man­age my­opia.

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