RAate conference 2011

Devices for Dignity (D4D) works with industry, along with  inventors and clinicians and healthcare professionals who have ideas for medical devices that meet real clinical need.

An exciting invention which was led by Martin Johnson in its development featured a technology which needed clinical guidance make suitable for renal patients. The product is a simple home haemodialysis machine that’s easy to use, needs no cleaning and can be easily transported.

The innovation was inspired by learning about problems associated with current renal treatment using complex machines in hospital and looking at how other non-medical products have been made easy to use at home.

Martin’s team were experienced in developing machines in other markets which were more advanced in design yet smaller and simpler to operate than the current machinery on the market. They were surprised to find that dialysis technology had seen little change in 30 years.

“Technology transfer across markets enables reliable proven ideas to be adapted faster with fewer risks” says Martin, who founded Quanta Fluid Solutions Ltd to develop its unique haemodialysis machine. Martin was referred to D4D when it was first set up in 2008.

“We needed greater knowledge about patient and clinical needs. I’d been working with Dr Elizabeth Lindley, who’s now a D4D renal specialist,” he says.

She had been incredibly helpful to us in discussing the issues that needed addressing through any new product. What D4D has done has enabled us to develop that relationship with Dr Lindley and her team. It has also provided us with access to patients to discuss their needs and requirements from a home dialysis unit. Without D4D I don’t think we’d have had the same quality of  advice and support from clinical staff.”

Most patients who rely on haemodialysis as a treatment for kidney failure have to visit a hospital three times a week to undergo their treatment. With each treatment lasting approximately four hours – with additional time to set up dialysis machines – it’s an incredibly disruptive process for patients and labour intensive and costly for the NHS.

The Quanta machine, which is under development, will enable patients to dialyse themselves at home without the need for nursing help .

The simplicity of the controls will encourage more patients to take control of their treatment and will allow longer and/or more frequent treatment which in turn should have a positive impact on their general level of health and wellbeing.

To encourage patients to use a machine at home, it was important that it was operated like a domestic appliance ,  had an attractive design  and was portable to enable patients to travel anywhere with confidence .

Martin believes the D4D initiative to be invaluable for bringing industry professionals together with those at the coal face. “Industry need regular contact with clinicians to ensure the products we’re developing are meeting a real need medically, but are also in line with what health professionals and patients want,” he says.

Through D4D Martin attended an NHS Innovation Conference in London in June 2009, where the haemodialysis unit attracted the attention of NHS Chief Executive David Nicholson. “Meeting David Nicholson, and hearing him endorsing what we’re doing is fantastic,” says David.

If you’ve got an idea or an invention you’d like to discuss with us, please contact us.