11 November 2014

Clinicians hack into eight-hour challenge to help patients

A TEAM of clinicians, medical engineers, designers and patient representatives are being challenged to come up with new innovative concepts to solve patients’ needs in an eight-hour health design hack.

Members of the nationally acclaimed Devices for Dignity Healthcare Technology Co-operative are setting two challenges at the University of Sheffield’s fifth annual Business Innovation Network conference today (Tuesday 11 November).

These are: a project to create better systems for lifting patients safely and more comfortably who are unable to support their own weight and a sip straw for patients who have difficulty in swallowing from a beaker or cup following a stroke, or suffer with Parkinson’s Disease, motor neurone disease, or multiple sclerosis.

The Design4Health Hackathon is being hosted by Sheffield Hallam University at the Cantor Building, 153 Arundel Gate.

At the start of the challenge healthcare professionals and patient representatives will show the current designs in use. Staff involved in hoist training will initially demonstrate the hospital hoist equipment.

Such hoists lift the patient using a sling support which is attached to a series of hooks, loops or clips in the device. Feedback from patients highlights that although this equipment is safe and prevents injury, many find them uncomfortable and feel undignified when being moved. If used at home, the equipment often takes up a lot of space and is complex to use, too.

They will also show how difficult it is for some patients to swallow thickened fluids from a beaker or cup, which may causing coughing or choking if fluids are drawn the wrong way.

The teams will then be given eight hours to be creative and come up with a product that medical technology developers could take away and develop into a product or service that can be used by the NHS.

Dr Angel Jimenez-Aranda, Project Manager for the Devices for Dignity Healthcare Technology Cooperative, said: “This is a great opportunity to think laterally and innovatively about new ways to create practical, dignified healthcare products which could improve patient care.

“We’re not expecting definitive answers, but by stepping outside of their normal working environment clinicians, medical engineers, patients and designers will be able to brainstorm ideas which ultimately will provide an idea or design that we can formalise into an ongoing project and really make fly.”

During the challenge, a team from the National Institute for Health Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research (CLAHRC): Yorkshire and Humber will try to come up with a clinical use for a mobility support device known as a Rollator. The device is a Bluetooth controller that can sense movements of arms and fingers through technology.

Daniel Wolstenholme, Project Manager for the National Institute for Health Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research (CLAHRC): Yorkshire and Humber, said “This event builds on a track record of delivering innovative events in partnership with the CLAHRC, Sheffield Hallam University and Devices for Dignity Healthcare Technology Cooperative. The clinical links with the teaching hospitals allow us to get access to clinical staff and more importantly patients without who the events would not be possible.”

Members of the Devices for Dignity Healthcare Co-operative will also be leading the ‘Improving Patient Care and Outcomes’ session on the 12 November at the conference. Here they will describe factors key to successful innovation in healthcare and provide real-life examples of successful collaborations delivering new medical devices impacting patient care.

The fifth annual Business Innovation Network takes place at the Showroom Workstation, Paternoster Row, Sheffield S1 2BX from Monday 10 November to Wednesday 12 November.

The Devices for Dignity Healthcare Cooperative brings the NHS, industry and universities together to work with patients as partners to develop technologies which help to improve dignity and independence for people living with long-term illnesses. For further information visit http://www.devicesfordignity.org.uk/.

Claudia Blake, Communications Specialist
Tel: 0114 226 5033
Email: claudia.blake@sth.nhs.uk

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