KT project ‘From Empathy to Innovation’

13 June 2017 by Webredactie 3mE

Third-year students in the bachelor programme of Clinical Technology were recently asked to come up with medical-technical solutions for chronically ill patients that would improve the quality of their lives for the project ‘From empathy to Innovation.’ One project in particular stood out during the final symposium, which made the patient and the experts alike extremely enthusiastic about this unique and innovative solution for people with water on the brain.

The winning students Paul Roos and Amne Mousa spent time with a teenage patient who has a ventricular peritoneal drain as a result of hydrocephalus (water on the brain). Often the patient had to go to the hospital for extensive examinations even if the symptoms were relatively minor. In order to determine the pressure in the ventricles when patients felt symptoms, it was necessary to perform a puncture through the skull and brain. The solution that the students came up with to improve this drain is to develop a ‘Smart VP drain’. This avoids having to perform a puncture in the head because now measurements can be taken outside the body. This innovation could prevent patients from having to visit the hospital for minor symptoms. So this innovation is not only pleasant for patients, but it also saves hospitals money.

‘We gained a great deal of experience with this project,’ Paul Roos says. ‘It was one of the first times that we were in contact with a patient independently and had to both identify and solve problems. We were tested on our independence, professional conduct, creativity and medical-technological understanding. In addition to that, it was made quite clear that the main focus of our field is to help people. That’s why is was so great to hear that the patient was very happy with our solution.’

We wanted to use this project,’ says Lex Linsen, project coordinator and head of student training in general medicine at the Erasmus Medical Centre, ‘to encourage future graduates in clinical technology to only develop applications that suit patients’ needs. Clinical technologists shouldn’t be conceiving and developing innovations just because they can. They should be doing it because they’re needed.’
The project is part of a longitudinal training on clinical competencies and professional conduct and is meant to expose students to patients with chronic illnesses. The idea is to discover what the impact of the illness/affliction is on daily life and how to improve it. The goal is to enable students to learn more about the person behind the affliction and understand the consequences that it has in all areas of life. Think, for example, of sports, work, hobbies and social life.

In the end, 28 patients with different afflictions participated. Their afflictions included paraplegia, brain damage, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, narcolepsy, hydrocephalus, polyarthritis and kidney diseases. The winning presentation at the symposium on April stood out for the clarity with which it presented the problem, the simplicity of the solution it came up with, the feasibility of achieving it and the thought that it gave to the consequences of the new situation on diagnosis and therapists.

‘As coordinators of this project, we – Imme van Hout, Pleun Hermsen and I – are extremely happy with their approach: discover for yourself what the actual problem is and then make clever use of modern technology to come up with a previously unknown solution, which is also enthusiastically received by experts in the field in question and which, moreover, will benefit all patients with this affliction in the future. What more can you ask for?’ says Linsen.



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