• Devices
  • Villgro Kenya financing Uganda’s MamaOPe and clinicPesa

    East Africa’s startup ecosystem is growing. clinicPesa and MamaOpe, two innovative Ugandan enterprises, are set to take up capital from Villgro Kenya, an investment firm with its HG in India. The goals are to raise clinicPesa’s and MamaOpe’s  profiles, underpin the initial growth, and enhance the availability and accessibility of eHealth services in economically vulnerable areas.  

    clinicPesa’s support’s USD$40,000. MamaOpe’s USD$25,000

    An article in Wee Tracker says Villgro focuses on finance, mentoring and networking support for social enterprise startups. Its business model focuses on projects in agriculture, education, energy and health. Its partners are usually early-stage for-profit solutions for disadvantaged individuals and communities. The outfit’s recent extension into Kenya expands the reach of these broader.

    clinicPesa’s a digital micro-savings and loans platform. It provides users with convenient and affordable access to quality healthcare services by accessing their savings and loans for a range of registered health services providers. Many families slip further in to poverty after accidents or meeting unexpected medical emergencies. clinicPesa reduces out-of-pocket spending on medical bills, medicines or treatments so users to avoid excessive debt or property sales to cope.

    MamaOpe group’s a biomedical initiative. It aims to minimise pneumonia misdiagnoses and associated delayed treatments. These are primary reasons many deaths from the disease.   The MamaOpe team’s developed a biomedical smart jacket to help healthcare workers who are not doctors in low resource areas to gauge pneumonia’s primary symptoms and diagnose it accurately.

    Villgro’s been keen to add East African startups to its portfolio. Kenya’s Villgro Innovations Foundation offers a structured programme that includes finance, mentoring and connections to wider healthcare networks. These contribute to steps towards East Africa’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Will Villgro be offering these opportunities across all Africa soon?

    Watch this YouTube clip about clinicPesa.

  • Stethee reinvents the stethoscope with AI

    The worlds first Al enabled stethoscope system has been launched by M3DICINE Inc.

    The design itself is revolutionary and operates as easily as the traditional stethoscope. However, it allows users to listen to the lung and heart sounds with a more sophisticated amplification and filtering technology. Heart and respiratory sounds captured are sent via Bluetooth to the Stethee Android or iOS App which enables a wider range of diagnostic capabilities.

    The Stethee system comes in three core products:

    FDA cleared Stethee Pro for medical and healthcare professionalsStethee Vet for veterinarians and animal professionalsStethee Edu developed specifically as an education and research tool

    The technology platform behind the Stethee AI engine , named “Aida” can analyze the heart and lung sounds to build a unique personal biometric signature.  In addition to this, Aida automatically tags geo-location and environment data to each sample in real time.  This offers a completely new dimension of data analytics for public health planning by allowing one to understand what effects environmental factors such as pollution, temperature or humidity have on our heart and lungs.

    Aida also analyzes this encrypted and anonymised data in order to learn and report back quantitative clinically actionable data to vets, doctors and other healthcare professionals. Not only does it identify and analyze heart sounds and respiratory activity but also patterns that may indicate a disease condition. The data is represented in real time in the Stethee App, therefore making it easy to understand vital signs.

    The potential for the Stethee to be used in remote rural areas is quite vast because its relatively easy to use and results can be shared and analyzed promptly by a medical specialist anywhere in the world. This is invaluable to the improvement of patient care, more especially to remote rural areas where access to screening services or a cardiologist is very difficult.

  • QuantumMDx offers low cost DNA tests at points of care

    As technology help DNA test costs and prices tumble, the range of opportunities expands. While conventional supply and demand economics hints that higher prices attract suppliers, lower prices reduces them, disruptive technology’s changing the DNA testing model. 

    QuantumMDx, a UK firm based in Newcastle UK,, offers DNA tests at point of care. They can cost as little as £5, about US$6.65, each. It takes a few minutes to extract DNA into a biosensor that can multiplex in thousands. Its Q-POC™ assays provide data for whole genome sequencing and creating gold pathogen surveillance networks. Global Good Intellectual Ventures aims to bring technology to solve global problems. QuantumMDx works with them.

    Plans are in place to expand from the four main services currently supported. They’re: 

    Tuberculosis has an in vitro diagnostic device for future multi-drug resistance Tuberculosis treatment regimensWarfarin has a pharmacogenomic assay to determine optimum dosage of the anti-coagulantSexually Transmitted Infections (STI) uses a  panel test for quick and easy screening to help containment, including a test for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) enabling health workers to use molecular diagnostics to screen and treat in a single visitMalaria has uses a drug susceptibility panel to support malaria eradication initiatives.

    Africa’s an important market for QuantumMDx. It has the highest regional malaria burden and the lack of healthcare infrastructure in many communities hinders health workers’ ability to diagnose and treat the infection. Empiric diagnosis is a common technique. 

    Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) are simple to use and don’t need laboratory infrastructure. They’ve been crucial in dealing with malaria, but have an inherent lack of sensitivity to detect low-level asymptomatic infections, so cannot alone move a country from high burdens to eradication. QuanumMDx sees its role as essential. How will Africa’s health systems move to mobile diagnostics at points of care.

  • Drones are good for your health

    Stuck in in deep marshland in Norfolk, a very rural, flat part of England, or anywhere else, isn’t a good health initiative. Being rescued by a drone is. A report on the BBC website says a 75 year old man was separated from his friends while walking near Titchwell, a particularly wet and soggy part of the county. He was missing for 21 hours, and stuck in a marsh.

    Police used a drone to find him, and it did. He was admitted to hospital and treated for hypothermia. It’s another example of good drone use.

    Without the drone, the outcome could’ve been different. It’s another graphic illustration of the case for drones. Africa’s eHealth strategies for emergency services should have plenty of them.

     

  • Cancer detecting pen to be piloted in Texas

    We often hear from surgeons that distinguishing cancerous tissues during surgery may be difficult. This  is a challenge that has been tackled by a group of researchers from the university of Texas who have developed a revolutionary pen. The MasSpec Pen is coupled to a mass spectrometer and can identify cancerous tissue during surgery in real time.

    The MasSpec Pen is able to diagnose cancer within twenty seconds during surgery.  The pen is placed over a tissue and uses touch to make a diagnosis. A foot pedal triggers the device to release water droplets which extract molecules from the tissue. The water is drawn into the mass spectrometer.  It then analyses the molecular compositions to determine if the tissue is cancerous or not. This also eliminates time waiting for results to return from the pathologist.

    While the diagnosis may be quick, the accuracy is still spot on. During a trial, 300 patient samples were analysed and the MasSpec Pen was able to detect four types of cancer; breast, thyroid, ovarian and lung cancer with over 96 % accuracy.  This could allow surgeons to remove all cancerous tissue and prevent further complications later on.  Similarly, it will eliminate the risks of unnecessary removal of normal tissue.

    Over the next several months, three of the devices will be installed in Texas hospitals.  The cost of this revolutionary pen is still being debated, but this could well be a useful tool for rural and remote hospitals in Africa to quickly and easily detect cancers.

  • Low-cost video laryngoscope developed in South Africa

    “Innovation is change that unlocks new value” - Jamie Notter. This is what Cape Town Anaesthesiologist, Dr Caroline Corbett, is doing with her video laryngoscope invention.  SmartBlade, is a cost effective, novel and real-world solution to the management of a difficult airway. 

    It uses forward-thinking smartphone technology to link with video laryngoscopy, thus allowing clinicians to easily intubate difficult airways. The clinician can suction a soiled airway or perform apnoeic oxygenation, both without interrupting attempts to intubate. 

    The customised mobile application also facilitates video conferencing, image capture, recording and secure data storage.  SmartBlade aims to become a standard of care in advanced airway management. 

    This novel device won the WFSA-Fresenius Kabi Anaesthesia Innovation Award in 2017.  The South African Society of Anaesthesiologists (SASA) is proud of this accolade and looks forward to seeing it being used in South African hospitals in the future.

  • Bio-artificial kidney to become an alternate solution for renal dialysis

    Being on dialysis may give a patient with renal failure a chance to live a longer life. However, there are frequent inherent risks associated with it. The kidney project seeks to address this in an innovative way.

    According to the national kidney foundation, over 100 000 patients are currently waiting for a donor kidney and over 3000 are added to the list yearly. An average patient may spend 3-4 years waiting for a transplant and may be on dialysis whilst they wait. However, studies have found that only one in three patients may survive the 3-4 years without receiving the transplant.

    The kidney project’s goal is to implant a bio-artificial kidney to give hope beyond the short term solution of dialysis.  It can do this by simulating the removal of waste products, salt and water as a normal kidney would. Nanotechnology microchips are the key behind the the artificial kidney.

    While transplanted organs need to be thoroughly screened to prevent tissue rejection, the artificial solution bypasses such complications. The foundation hopes to begin human trials with the implanted kidney in 2018.

  • GE sells its healthcare Value-Based Care Division to Veritas for >$1b

    In a shake-up to the health ICT supply side, an announcement by GE says it’s selling its:

    Enterprise Financial Management, Revenue-Cycle, Centricity BusinessAmbulatory Care Management, Centricity Practice SolutionWorkforce Management, formerly API Healthcare.

    The buyer, Veritas Capital takes it on for $1.05b in a cash-will-do-nicely deal. It’s Veritas Capital is a leading, global private equity firm that invests in companies that provide essential products and services. Technology and technology-enabled solutions are its main service range. Governments and commercial organisations are its main customers.

    They extend across aerospace, defence, healthcare, national security, communications, energy, education and government services. It’s Veritas business model seeks to create value by strategically transforming companies that it invests in.

    GE says Veritas is ideal to provide the focus and investment needed to take GE’s former services to the next level of scale and performance. The former GE team  sees the switch as an opportunity to revitalise its product portfolio and pursue complementary acquisitions. The intended result’s better for patients, providers and payers services

    These big outfits seldom see Africa’s health systems as fruitful markets. Affordability’s a constraint. Will Veritas take a different view?

  • Is eHealth mature enough for healthcare?

    Two opposing views of eHealth could be optimism and cynicism. An article in Fierce Healthcare identifies a view in between. It sees eHealth as a maturing endeavour that’s in an adolescent stage. While it’s a view of US eHealth, if it’s right, it has implications for Africa’s eHealth strategies too/

    It starts from a position where basic ICT infrastructure’s in place, such as EHRs, analytics and population health tools. This has created lots of data, but healthcare organisations don’t seem to know what to do with it. They’re entering a phase of trying to pull it together into a cohesive unit. Doctors are taking a core role in this, such as the Integrated Health Model Initiative (IHMI) reported on eHNA. 

    EHRs aren’t as communicative as they could be, and doctors don’t like the extra time they have to commit to eHealth’s demands. This extends to data entry too.

    Wearables can be full of potential for better health and healthcare. Unresolved challenges include designing effective service models and creating appropriate reimbursement arrangements. Reimbursement for telehealth remains elusive too, which doesn’t augur well for rising investment trajectories. It’s especially disappointing when over half of healthcare executives plan to expand their current programmes based on improved patient satisfaction and healthcare coordination achievements. 

    Recent huge global cyber-attacks, WannaCry  and Petya/NotPetya. revealed healthcare’s vulnerabilities. WannaCry breached several hospital systems in the UK’s NHS. For many weeks after the attack, the US Department of Health and Human Services was dealing with it’s operational aftermath for two multi-state health systems.

    Petya: 

    Damaged a US-based drug companyForced a West Virginia hospital to replace its entire computer systemCost Nuance some US$68 million by shutting down it’s medical transcription services.

    Repairs weren’t confined to technical cyber-security matters. They had to address a severe lack of ICT security talent too. 

    In this setting, US eHealth investment’s up. For Africa, it’s eHealth strategies need recognise and deal with both the challenges and opportunities. A wide range of resources need deploying to drive through eHealth’s complexities that extend beyond ICT. 

  • Nigeria’s ATM telehealth device to enhance services in rural communities

    Primary and rural healthcare delivery in Nigeria face a number of longstanding challenges. An estimated 66% of the rural community in the country do not have access to critical medicine, and are in dire need of effective medical infrastructure to support healthcare delivery. While 31% of the population travel more than 20 kilometres seeking standard healthcare in the rural regions.

    In order to address some of these challenges, Springville Management Consulting Limited has partnered with Tele-health Technology Company, to introduce its primary healthcare diagnostic technology solution, 'YOLO Health' says an article in allAfrica.

    The YOLO Health ATM kiosk is an innovative integrated preventive healthcare solution, designed in form of an ATM machine. It offers various health screening capabilities and medical benefits such as online data consulting with doctors, health checkup and health history.

    Managing Director, Chuks Melville Chibundu said "As we continue to seek solutions to challenges in various development sectors, we have recently partnered with one of India's leading healthcare technology solutions providers to proffer easy, quick and affordable diagnostic healthcare services to urban and rural dwellers in Nigeria."

    The YOLO health ATM allows patients to get a quick preventive health checkup or to video consult with reputed healthcare providers. It checks weight, height, BMI, Oxygen saturation and Hemoglobin.