The Pandemic Innovates

With social distancing in place, one might think it would be harder to procure prescriptions. This new contraption will prove the opposite.




Fighting the Good Fight

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry has been put at the forefront of society. As the world continues to fight and endure this truly global catastrophe, new products and methods began to enter the scene. These innovative technologies developed through a necessity for technical solutions to difficult issues that were given light as hospitals and clinics became flooded, and sterilization became a social norm.

The Efficacy of Drugs against COVID-19

Electrocardiogram (EKG) machines are typically high-volume mechanisms used to measure intervals between heartbeats. These devices are typically used to measure how drugs affect someone: the longer the interval, the higher the chances of ventricular fibrillation, or an abnormal heart rhythm that can cause cardiac arrest. Often massive, EKG machines are rarely found in local clinics. Jon Neher, a physician at Valley Medical Center and creator of the InstaQTc, wanted to increase access to EKG machines without having to deal with volume issues. With the creation of the InstaQTc, a compact EKG machine that only requires one to insert their thumbs into the device to read heart rate intervals, allows more access to drug experimentation to combat the COVID-19 disease which in turn can help discover better treatments for the virus.

“Engineering Innovations Offer Promise during Pandemic.” Mechanical Engineering University of Washington, 6 Aug. 2020, www.me.washington.edu/news/2020/08/06/promise-during-pandemic

Sensitive or Sensit-IV?

As the Coronavirus spreads throughout the world, intensive care units (ICU) are often occupied with patients. Common treatments for ICU patients include intravenous (IV) fluid drip bags. For several decades, doctors haven't been certain as to how much IV fluids a patient should receive, what rate to give it, when to stop, etc. This guesswork directly translates to $5 billion in avoidable costs. Excess IV fluids mean follow-up check ups, blood loss, severe infections 一 all preventable with the removal of traditional guesswork of IV drip bags which reduces the amount of time patients spend in the ICU. Dr. Catherine Beni, a surgeon with a Ph. D. in applied mathematics from Caltech, offered to create Sensit-IV, a custom-designed monitor that regulates and records IV fluid management. Sensit-IV can help learn and tend to each patient’s unique needs and can offer a safer, more efficient alternative to guessing.

Kang, Soyoung. “Projects.” Engineering Innovation in Health, 2020, eih.uw.edu/projects

Saving Lives and Money

Another treatment for ICU patients involves ventilators. As COVID-19 puts more people on ventilators, Ventilator Associated Pneumonia (VAP) is ever more present. Jacob LoMonaco, a surgical resident from UW Medicine and now an emergency medicine resident at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, thinks of VAP as unbrushed teeth. The longer someone is on life support using the respiratory support system, the more chances bacteria has to colonize on both the interior and exterior of the ventilator ultimately causing VAP. LoMonaco offered the ultraviolet light sterilization system EAGER: a small beam of UV light can be shined down the ventilator to sterilize any bacteria colonizing in and on it. UV sterilization is used for other medical equipment, so what’s stopping it from being used on ventilators? The EAGER invention is welcomed in the ever-lasting fight against the SARS-Cov-2 virus.

The cross-industry cooperation between engineering researchers and medical experts are more important now than ever. These two very different fields have begun to merge as manufacturers develop new devices, tools, and methods for medical use. InstaQTc, Sensit-IV and EAGER represent just a few of the many promising projects that arose during the pandemic. These innovations are proof that technology will continue to advance as time progresses, especially when the world is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

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