Dr Shravan Verma first enrolled in Duke University in 2005 with a clear goal: To pursue his interest in using technology to impact medicine.
Said the 31-year-old, who is now a doctor: “I decided to pursue biomedical engineering alongside electrical engineering at Duke University for my undergraduate studies. At that time, I saw my studies as a gateway to working on the research and development of medical devices, which fascinated me.”
But instead of embarking on an engineering career after graduating with his Bachelor of Engineering in 2009, he continued on to Duke-NUS (National University of Singapore) Medical School the same year and graduated as a Doctor of Medicine in 2014.
Dr Shravan explained his decision to enrol in medical school: “Upon graduation, I realised that it was very important to have the knowledge, understanding and skills as a clinician to get to the root of some of the problems before working to solve them.”
IMPROVING THE WAY THINGS ARE DONE
After graduating from Duke-NUS Medical School, Dr Shravan spent four years practising medicine in various public hospitals in Singapore. During his rotation at the accident and emergency (A&E) department, he noticed non-emergency patients often make up more than half of the A&E cases.
“Instead of waiting in the A&E, these patients could have visited a polyclinic or general practitioner for their medical conditions. I started wondering if there was a way to distribute healthcare resources more efficiently,” said Dr Shravan, who cited his engineering training as a constant motivation to improve how things are done.
Still, it took a football injury for him to discover the solution to the problem. Unable to sleep one night from the pain caused by bursitis (the inflammation of fluid-filled sacs – known as bursae – that cushion our tendons and bones) in his shoulder, he began to analyse his situation.
He did not live near a 24-hour clinic, and he knew the nearest A&E department would have a long waiting time.
He then realised the answer: Mobile medicine.
“Instead of having patients travel to hospitals and wait there, we could use technology to enable skilled medical professionals to reach patients as soon as possible,” he recalled.
“My dream was to provide quick, convenient medical care for patients at any time of the day, so they wouldn’t need to visit the A&E for non-emergency cases like stomach flu and constipation.”
Dr Shravan went on to create Speedoc, an app that provides users the option of having a doctor pay them a house call at any hour. As the chief executive officer of Speedoc, his clinician skills ensure patient safety while his engineering skills let him push the boundaries of healthcare with his app.
LIGHTING THE FIRE
Dr Shravan credits his research experience at Duke-NUS for giving him the foundation to explore a different career path in healthcare technology.
“I benefited from Duke-NUS’ vibrant learning environment, which combines the medical and research training of Duke University in North Carolina with the excellent resources at Duke-NUS. The rich resources and mentorship from healthcare experts just across the School at SingHealth, were also always available. And all these aspects made a huge impact and difference,” he said.
“In my third year, I had an opportunity to do research on cardio-electrophysiology, allowing me to explore beyond clinical medicine. This lit a fire within me, and made me realise that the medical field was so much more than it was generally perceived to be.”
Besides exciting academic opportunities, he said that Duke-NUS was a rich source of “great mentors”.
“I benefited greatly from the university’s network of professors, who selflessly mentored me. They gave me invaluable medical advice to increase patient safety at Speedoc by weighing in with their clinical judgment.”
DREAM BIG AND WORK WITH OTHERS
Dr Shravan also attends Duke-NUS alumni gatherings, where he networks with the “movers and shakers of Singapore’s medical community”.
Now a Duke-NUS alumnus himself, he mentors current students on innovation and entreprenuership.
“Healthcare is very complex and there are a lot of challenges facing it,” he said.
“Improvements can only be made when passionate people become actively involved in shaping and moulding it to benefit the patients. There are a lot of resources available to be utilised – don’t be afraid to ask for help, mentorship, guidance and advice along the way.”
Find out more about Duke-NUS admissions here.