For years, our non-profit venture Hack The Planet has been committed to making the world a little bit better. By making smart use of technology, Hack The Planet strives for pragmatic solutions to humanitarian problems. This also applies to the development of an affordable medical instrument that can be used in low- and middle-income countries, for which two biomedical engineers from TU Delft approached us.
The instrument in question: a video laryngoscope. This mobile, relatively small device consists of a tube with a camera, which is inserted through the patient's mouth, allowing the doctor to view the larynx and trachea on a screen. Where the doctor looks directly into the patient's mouth with a normal laryngoscope, a video laryngoscope allows a greater distance to the patient. The demand for video laryngoscopes has risen sharply since the corona crisis. In addition, intubation via a video laryngoscope is safer for the patient. However, a video laryngoscope is more expensive. Far too expensive for low- and middle-income countries, such as Kenya and India. Places where these tools are most needed.
Under the banner of CASE.health, the biomedical engineers at TU Delft are working with Smart Medics on the goal of making such operating room equipment affordable. Jointly, we have made a prototype that can be produced many times cheaper. We have combined existing solutions and standard, easy-to-buy hardware components with 3D printing.
We placed a battery and a screen in a self-designed 3D case. The tube with camera is connected to this hardware via a Raspberry Pi, so that the doctor can view the image. For the Raspberry Pi we have written software that makes that the image directly when the device is started. We have also ensured that the image on the screen can be easily rotated, which is, for example, an important use case for several doctors in an operating room. Not only is our video laryngoscope cheaper than current models; the minimal interface also makes the instrument easy to use and reliable.
From mid-2020, the next phase of the project will start with the prototype being tested in Dutch hospitals.