I’ve just got back from the Trauma Innovation 2014 conference – Europe’s largest gathering of military, humanitarian and emergency healthcare professionals. It was held on 14 – 15 January at the Royal College of Surgeons, London, and showed the latest innovations, strategies and case studies in trauma management.
One of the things that came through loud and clear was that survival rates and outcomes for major trauma cases are improving year-on-year. There are many reasons for this. One is the large stimulus given by the recent military experiences (a staggering fact that was dropped in during the conference was that the US Military trains 6000 medics every year!) and another is the redoubled efforts to examine, learn and disseminate good practice.
Of the devices on show, three highlights stood out for me as being especially innovative:
1. The iTclamp – at first glance surprising, it is used at the scene of injury to stop bleeding from deep and wide cut wounds especially in awkward places. It pulls the skin edges together over a wound using teeth and seals the edges using ribbed bars, a bit like a bulldog clip. This can instantly stop bleeding until the patient can be recovered to an emergency room where surgical techniques can take over for a permanent fix. But the details I liked were:
- The packaging presented the device to the paramedic in a ready-to-use format the moment the lid was ripped off, making it easy and very quick to apply.
- There was a sweetly-designed one-way clutch built in that locked the clamp in any position – simple, robust and very compact.
- It incorporated a release mechanism, so the device could be released and reapplied with a single hand if a wound continued to bleed.
2. The Droper – a completely electricity-free IV infusion pump. This used the energy stored in springs in a scissor-jack-like mechanism to pressurise an IV-bag, generating a consistent pressure broadly independent of its fullness or emptiness. The flow rate can then be set using conventional variable restrictor valves. Since it requires no electricity, it can be used in all the places there is none (disaster zones, floods, earthquakes, in collapsed buildings, down mines or on patrol), as the logistics of shipping electricity and batteries is a common bugbear of disaster relief, third world and military medics alike. What I liked about it was that:
- It doesn’t need hanging up in use like a regular IV drip- once pressurised it can even be laid beside the patient, in any orientation, so it is practical in the many real environments encountered outside a hospital.
- The robust components – no fussy, unreliable manufacturing issues there.
3. The MOVES® – a portable life-support system for use on stretchers in pre-hospital care. Though incorporating several functions, it was built around an oxygen generator that incorporates a recirculating breathing path and a CO2 scrubber. Hence oxygen breathed out by the patient is not wasted as normal, and only that fraction passed into the bloodstream needs replacing with newly generated oxygen. I thought its best features are:
- Changing the way oxygen is delivered in this way neatly breaks the paradigm that increasing the flow rate requires proportionately larger and heavier generators.
- The shape format of the device was chosen so that it could mount beside the patient on a stretcher and be no taller than him, and so give greatest flexibility when transporting people in confined spaces
- The incorporation of rapid release tracks along the top edges, so that ancillary equipment can be quickly fixed and securely positioned.
These are three devices that address very different problems in the care of trauma patients. What is the similarity between them? The way their creators have used innovation to solve old problems in new and unusual ways, have underpinned them with good detailed engineering design, and have paid attention to their use cases in real-life operating environments by real people.
These are all areas in which Springboard excels. If you would like to talk about how we can help you develop your next generation product and gain a march on your competitors, give me a ring on +44 1223 422274.
David Foster, Jan 16 2014