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.

D4D project to offer new support

People with neck weaknesses as a result of neurological diseases are set to benefit from improved designs of neck supports thanks to a new collaborative D4D project.

D4D, SITraN and Sheffield Hallam University have received an NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i) grant for the development of a novel neck-collar.

The need for this project was initially proposed by the DeNDRoN Clinical Studies Group for motor neurone disease, with support from carers and patients, who approached D4D with the view that current neck collars are inadequate in terms of function, comfort and cosmesis.

The project originated as one of three case studies used in the D4D/KT EQUAL funded design workshop in July 2010.  The new project will start in April 2012.

D4D and University of Leeds link up for new device

D4D and the University of Leeds have been awarded £356,000 by the NIHR Invention for Innovation early stage scheme to develop new flushable sustainable devices for active continence management. The project is funded for two years and will build on previous research undertaken by the Leeds Centre for Technical Textiles research group to develop systems to actively manage the liquid contents of continence devices to prevent spillages and aid disposal. The Bladder and Bowel Foundation, the UKs largest bladder and bowl charity will be supporting and advising on the project to ensure that any new products meet user needs.

D4D secures £600k funding to support technology creation and adoption

D4D has been awarded a further £600k of funding from the Department of Heath, to support delivery of its programme of work in stimulating inventive and innovative solutions in areas of healthcare underserved by technology.

Focusing on core D4D themes (Assistive Technology, Renal Technology and Urinary Continence Management), the funding will enable D4D to continue its commitment to developing successful innovations.

Further details of this exciting project will appear soon on the D4D website.

D4D funding for the future of healthcare

£30,000 of funding has been awarded to two teams of innovative healthcare professionals in a proof of concept competition designed to drive the development of life changing products.

In August, Devices for Dignity (D4D) – the organisation that delivers technology solutions to support people with long-term conditions preserving their dignity and independence, identified unmet clinical needs in two major areas of healthcare and ran a competition inviting anybody in the sector to apply for funding and support to turn innovative ideas into commercial realities.

The winning teams led by Mr Gareth Adkins & Dr Nicholas Fardon, will be awarded £15,000 each to advance the developments of a specific product in their specialist area of healthcare.

In the Assistive Technology category, consultant clinical scientist Gareth Adkins was selected as the winner. Gareth works as the Head of Rehabilitation Engineering at Morriston Hospital in Swansea and his team was awarded the funding to develop an Electromyography (EMG) stand alone switch to improve user experience, accessibility and independence.

An EMG or muscle action switch enables severely disabled users to independently control their environment or access communication with tiny muscle actions, sometimes their only reliable movement. Usually these switches require powerful computers but this project intends to create a switch that can work independently of other equipment.

Gareth said: “We are delighted. The unique group we have brought together includes medical electronics specialists, rehabilitation engineers and designers from the National Centre for Product Design and Development Research (PDR) Medical Applications Group at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

“The group were keen to enter the competition as we saw it as a great opportunity to use a multi-disciplinary approach for the design and development of a device that would improve the lives of disabled individuals.”

In the Renal Technologies category funding was awarded to Consultant Nephrologist, Dr Nicholas Fardon and Dr Prashant Verma alongside teams from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. They will work on the development of a simple battery powered ultrasound scanner optimised for viewing fistulae (expanded veins used for wide bore kidney dialysis needles).

Two solutions were offered, the first to modify a scanner that is currently used in the veterinary field; the second is to evaluate the use of transillumination. The team will work with the Sheffield Kidney Institute to compare the two potential solutions.

The technology that shows the greatest promise will be modified as required and trialled by specialist dialysis nurses. Feedback from the trials will be used to finalise the design of the prototype device. With proof of concept, it is hoped that an industrial partner will be found to commercialise the real-time fistula localisation device.

The winners will have the opportunity to work with D4D and gain access to the D4D national expert networks, resources and specialist clinicians throughout the process.

New online marketplace to create Assistive Technologies

REALISE is a new website that aims to radically change the lives of people struggling to use the internet, computers and mobile technology. Providing an online collaborative workspace, REALISE is a website where anybody can positively impact lives.

REALISE, the next evolution in collaborative working, will be launched at two events, RaATE in Coventry on 28th November and the KT-Equal event ‘Taming the Dragon; making technology work for us‘ in Chelmsford on 29th November. RaATE is the only UK conference focused on the latest innovations of Assistive Technology and the KT-Equal events focus on innovation for older people.

REALISE works by inviting anyone to submit ideas on how to make technology easier to use for all. These ideas are then openly discussed, helping to gain a consensus and move to an ‘incubation’ stage . In the incubation stage a lead group or individual can attempt to establish a fully fledged assistive technology project.

Projects developed so far include ATbar, a toolbar that can be added to any website allowing text to be read out loud, and forms to be spell checked for mistakes.

Project REALISE was developed through JISC funding awarded to the Universities of Southampton and Sheffield and will now continue to develop with the National Healthcare Technology Co-operative, Devices for Dignity (D4D).

REALISE will support some of the most innovative projects through the next steps of their development. Commercial companies and researchers are invited to become involved in open project development at any time.

Senior Research Associate at the University of Sheffield, Dr Peter Cudd said: “REALISE facilitates the development of software that ensures online equality. We hope the launch of this exciting online workspace at RaATe and KT-Equal will inspire individuals and companies to join us in this exciting endeavour.”

D4D Clinical Director Wendy Tindale wins prestigious award

Professor Wendy Tindale has been announced as the winner of the 2011 Beacon Award for Outstanding Contribution to Healthcare, at the Medilink Healthcare Business Awards 2011, which celebrate healthcare excellence in the region.

The awards took place at the Medilink Innovation Reception and Healthcare Business Awards, on the 9th of November at the York Railway Museum.

In addition to 5 other awards for regional organisations covering areas such as Innovation and Partnership with the NHS, Professor Tindale was honoured with this years coveted ‘Beacon Award’ – acknowledging her lifetime dedication to healthcare and career of impressive accomplishments.

Consultant Clinical Scientist and Scientific Director at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (STH), Professor Tindale is also Clinical Director of Devices for Dignity – the organisation set up to drive forward innovative new products, processes and services to help people with debilitating conditions to deal with their daily challenges.

Based at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Professor Tindale has worked within the health service in Sheffield for over 25 years, in that time contributing extensively to converting medical and technological innovations into front line patient care.

Speaking about the awards, Medilink’s Managing Director, Kevin Kiely, said: “Yorkshire and Humber boasts an abundance of innovative companies within its health technologies sector, so honouring the foremost achievers allows us to reflect on the talent we have here today, which will drive the healthcare breakthroughs of tomorrow.”

D4D shows design for life

Devices for Dignity (D4D), recently joined health professionals, inventors and academics with a design for life, at a new conference and exhibition called Design 4 Health (D4H).

Among the delegates at D4H, which was based at Sheffield Hallam University, were Andrew Slorance, a man who has designed his own ‘Carbon Black’ wheelchair.

D4D is supporting Mr Slorance in getting the extremely lightweight carbon chair to market, and took part in a series of interviews with the BBC, who have been filming the development of Carbon black.

Organisers said the conference and accompanying exhibition showcased the need for health professionals to embrace new design techniques to address stigmas of ageing and disability.

Design 4 Health also brought together health practitioners and researchers to address how design can rise to the challenges of an ageing population.

To support this process D4D delivered an in depth two hour presentation that included audience engagement, focussing on key D4D thematic areas such as Assistive Technology, Urinary Continence Management and Renal Technology.

Professor Wendy Tindale, D4Ds Clinical Director – who presented at the event said:

“D4D has a central goal of delivering technology solutions to support people with long term conditions and ensuring they preserve dignity and independence where possible; the D4H event provided the ideal place for all the people involved in the design of products in the field to come together and look at new solutions to support this goal.”

Our picture shows Professor Tindale with Andrew Slorance, being filmed by the BBC.

For more information on Design for Health visit: http://www.design4health.org.uk