‘A clear spirit of innovation shown’ at MDHB

A clever design change to an important but expensive medical device has taken out the grand prize at the inaugural Innovation DHB competition, run as part of the partnership between MidCentral DHB and the BCC.

The winning contestant was respiratory physiotherapist Mike Perry, with his new design for a positive expiratory pressure device (PEP), and he will receive $10,000 worth of expert support to further develop his idea. Current PEPs are relatively straightforward plastic devices that raise airway pressure, as people with lung disease often have narrow or weakened airways that can collapse during respiratory physiotherapy. Unfortunately, these devices are sourced from a European manufacturer and are very expensive for such a small device that is often lost by patients.

Mr Perry’s solution was to redesign the PEP so that it is simpler to make, which means it can be made much cheaper through Chinese factories. This will allow it to be a semi-disposable item and will remove a lot of cost concerns.

He said: “The PEP is a great little device that helps keep airways open and benefits lung expansion. My hope is that by making it easier and cheaper to manufacture it will be more widely used. In all honesty I’m flabbergasted at winning this award. There were so many entries that had great merit, and for the judges to pick mine is just amazing.

“I’ve been kicking this idea around for a while, but it really required a lot of commitment to move forward with it, and I wasn’t sure whether my idea was worth the time and resources. Working through the process with the BCC has shown me that it is possible, and that there is a future for my idea.”

BCC CEO Dean Tilyard was present to see Mr Perry receive his award, and is excited about the potential for this competition.

He said: “We have been looking to reach out to the medical community for some time. There are lots of technically qualified people in the health care sector and they are in the best position to identify areas that are in need of innovation. We had a meeting with the management at MidCentral DHB and it was clear that we were on the same page.

“So far I have been really happy with what I have seen. There is a lot of enthusiasm and diversity in the ideas that have come out of this process. Everyone involved sees this as just the beginning of an ongoing process, and we look forward to building on this next year.”

General Manager, MidCentral Health Mike Grant says that the potential for this sort of programme is huge.

“Our staff are experts who are working in their field every day. They know where there is need for innovation, and this competition has shown that there are some excellent ideas waiting to be developed.

“MidCentral DHB is always working at the leading edge of health, and by fostering this spirit of innovation we hope to develop more ideas that will enhance the quality of care not just for our patients, but as in the case of Mike’s PEP device, for patients everywhere.”

A spot prize of an iPad Air was also drawn, and was awarded to radiologist Patrizio Capasso.

The other finalists were:

- The use of QR codes and smart phone technology to promote early engagement for women in maternity, fertility and sexual health services

- Consumer electronics to track hospital equipment

- The implementation of smokerlysers for pregnant women to get an idea of carbon monoxide levels in their body

- A device to enable the safe and smart dispensing of controlled substances

- A cloud based registration and history form for sexual health services

- Smart phone app to help patients with life shortening illnesses follow their own spiritual journey and come to terms with their condition

- Computer based booking system for outpatient services

- Electronic tracking system to trace patient location

- Online social network game to promote healthy lifestyles

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