• Devices
  • 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.


    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.

  • India steps up certification training for medical device makers

    High quality medical devices are imperatives for healthcare. It may become more important as Africa’s health systems adopt more Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives. India’s first state-of-the-art medical devices manufacturing park in Visakhapatnam, the Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone (AMTZ), organised a two-day industry training programme on quality certification. The aim’s to shorten the time and cost of achieving globally recognised quality certification for India’s medical device makers.

    A report in eHealth Magazine says the course was organised by Quality Council of India(QCI)  National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB) and Association of Indian Medical Device Industry. (AIMED). Medical device manufacturers, medical professionals and industry stakeholders were participants.

    There’s a need to fill the regulatory space in quality certification for India’s medical devices in the country.  The main themes included:

    ·       Interpretations and understanding of Conformité Européene (CE),  the European Commission (EC) the  labrynthine guidelines and regulations and product marking

    ·       Industry Indian Certification for Medical Devices (ICMED) certification 9000 and 13485

    ·       New Medical Device Rules 2017. 

    This could be a template for equivalent events for Africa’s device makers and users. As IoT expands, devices will have to keep up. Regulations and training are a vital ways to achieve it.

  • A microchip can regenerate cells

    A research team at Ohio State University Wexner Centre has set out its’ achievements that will revolutionise regenerative medicine. Using Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT), they can generate any cell type in patients’ own bodies. The technology can repair injured tissue or restore aging tissue’s functions, including organs, blood vessels and nerve cells.

    Injured or compromised organs can be replaced using TNT. The team’s successfully shown that skin can be fertile, and used to grow any cell type for a failing organ. Two organisations collaborated. Dr Chandan Sen led the team from Ohio State’s Center for Regenerative Medicine & Cell Based Therapies and Ohio State’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center in the College of Engineering. Its results are in Nature Nanotechnology.

    After studying mice and pigs in these experiments, the team reprogramed skin cells to become vascular cells in badly injured legs that lacked blood flow. Within a week, active blood vessels appeared in the injured leg. By the second week, the injury was saved. Lab tests showed reprogramed skin cells in a live body into nerve cells that were injected into brain-injured mice to help them recover from strokes.

    This breakthrough has huge implications for Africa’s health systems. Nano-technology programmes should find a firm place in their eHealth strategies, or have their own strategies. The benefits for patients, families and communities are considerable. The technologies tractor needs sustained, increasing benefits to secure the achievable sustained benefits.

  • A healthcare equipment tracking seizure shows eHealth’s risks

    eHealth’s never easy. Combining technical ICT with changing organisations’ and people’s behaviour’s always difficult. A project at the US Department of Veterans (sic) Affairs (VA) has come against these.

    A recent report from the DVA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) set out serious deficiencies in the way medical equipment was managed. They included:

    No effective inventory system for managing medical equipment and supplies availabilityNo effective system to stop the use of supplies and equipment with patient safety recallsOver 70% of 25 sterile satellite storage areas for supplies were dirtyOver $150m of equipment or supplies weren’t inventoried, so not accounted forA lease on large warehouse of non-inventoried equipment, materials and supplies had a very short remaining, but subsequent accommodation was plannedSenior staff vacancies inhibit prompt solutions.

    Now, an eHealth solution started in 2012 track medical equipment’s seized up. Worth $543m, the contract with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Services, now DXC Technology, offered a Real-Time Locating System (RTLS), a type of Internet of Things (IoT) that should be able to resolve some the OIG’s concerns. A report in My Statesman says in 2016, some four years later, the pilot was facing “catastrophic failure".  The VA and DXC say it’s due the change challenges of big-scale ICT projects. 

    This’s a routine eHealth phenomenon with healthcare as a Complex Adaptive System (CAS), so not an unexpected challenge. My Statesman also discovered two other factors. VA’s ICT spending seldom realises its benefits, and bureaucratic barriers often stifle innovation. 

    Fierce Healthcare has also highlighted VA’s plans to replace Veterans Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VISTA) with a Cerner EHR, another change challenge. A review by a House Oversight committee recently says the VA was ranked F on its data centre consolidation and ICT portfolio savings. In addition, the OIG had found “material weaknesses” in the VA’s cyber-security.

    This string of events shows that converting large healthcare organisations into fleet-of foot eHealth users isn’t easy. Without the transformation, eHealth risks rocket, bot salutary lessons for Africa’s health systems and their eHealth programmes.

  • Technology is key for South Africa’s healthcare future

    South Africans generally evaluate their health positively. This is what the annual Future Health Index found. Released by Royal Philips, most South Africans, 80%, rate their health “good, very good or excellent.” Healthcare professionals on the other hand are less optimistic. Roughly 33% of healthcare professionals agree that the overall health of the population in the country is positive says an article in IT-Online. 

    The discrepancy between the two views is vast. They likely stem from healthcare professionals perceptions of access to healthcare. Results suggest that both groups perceive more access to healthcare than the system provides. It seems to offer a requirement and an opportunity to improve healthcare access.

    “Through the Future Health Index, (FHI) we are examining current realities of how well the healthcare system is set up for the future in order to quantify the readiness of health systems across five continents to meet future healthcare challenges,” says Jasper Westerink, CEO of Philips Africa. “The FHI has uncovered a number of significant areas where our healthcare system must transform if we are going to succeed in delivering long-term value based care.”

    The report says both the general population and healthcare professionals in South Africa acknowledge the importance of connected care technology in preventing medical issues and contributing to the population’s health. Most participants believe that technology and innovations are underutilised, providing opportunities to increase healthcare’s effectiveness. eHealth and mHealth investment’s essential to set up a modern healthcare system for South Africa’s future.