Writing in the IEEE Journal of Translational Engineering in Health and Medicine, they argue that surgical technology is often developed for well-resourced healthcare systems – and is of little or no use in poorer settings where hospitals lack sophisticated support infrastructure or appropriately trained staff. Without access to medical equipment they can use, hospitals and clinics in low-to-middle income countries cannot offer surgical treatment to nine out of ten patients.
An international research team led by the University of Leeds is calling for a focus on creating medical devices specifically for use in low-to-middle income countries. They have pioneered a development approach based on “participatory design”, where the users of the technology are closely involved in its design – and where functionality of the device is pared back to key essentials.
To demonstrate their approach, the researchers describe how they designed a simplified surgical tool for performing laparoscopic – or keyhole surgery – in low resource settings. The result is that laparoscopic surgery can now be carried out in clinics and hospitals where it was not possible before.
“Laparoscopic surgery has benefits for patients. People recover more quickly, and the risks of cross infection are lower,” Dr Pete Culmer, Associate Professor in Healthcare Technologies at Leeds, who supervised the research, said. But in many parts of the world, laparoscopic techniques are not widely used because of the need to use equipment that cannot be easily maintained or relies on complex infrastructure in the operating theatre. “We partnered with clinicians in India to work on developing instruments that would make the process simpler, with the aim of enabling laparoscopic surgery to be available in more locations around the world.”
Source: Healthcare in Europe