Long hours in a lab. Microscopes, test tubes, drug analysis… This is just one of the faces of medical invention. The other one are ground-breaking ideas supporting services or medical procedures, which make the patient’s life easier, even if only in a most elementary way.
Each of us has the experience of spending quite a few hours waiting for your turn in a line of patients to enter the doctor’s office. Unfortunately, in the Polish healthcare system, such situations still happen. Should we accept them and move on? Not necessarily so. Polish medical researchers are working on a solution to this kind of everyday problems. The effect is a number of inventions that the average Polish patient couldn’t even dream of. As it turns out, services such as rehabilitation could be available at a click of a button on a TV remote. And important medicine information can be conveyed through plain packaging graphics. Who hasn’t at least once lost that medicine leaflet…
The Polish medical thought is no less innovative than that of the western world. But one of the obstacles that nag Polish scientists is money shortages. According to Maciej Skórkiewicz, Investment Director at Black Pearls VC, the situation becomes even more complicated due to the fact that ”a scientist doesn’t have to have that knack for business. Their job is to do research and search out medical innovations. But without the right support, even the best invention will have no chance for any real success. We know that well and this is why we provide backing to exceptional projects that aim to make life easier, or the so called Life-Quality-Technologies (LQT), both by investment and by business consulting.”
Polish med innovation projects are often surprisingly creative and in some sense – simple. Their brilliance stems from the inventors’ ability to spot a specific need, which is in fact a market niche for a product or service.
One of such projects is tele-rehabilitation, a project by the company Rehabilitatus. It’s a a perfect solution for patients for whom the age, large distances between home and the clinic, or even simple time limits are the barriers in using the benefits of rehabilitation in a conventional way. Who can afford to find an hour in their daily schedule to arrange a visit with a medical specialist? Even more so, keeping in mind that such rehabilitation visit must often times be a regular thing.
The 21st century technology offers solutions to address such problems. An Internet connection is quite enough for a start. Through a camera and a piece of software, patients can do their exercises under the watchful, but remote eye of a specialist. Tele-rehabilitation provides an individual set of exercises prepared by a doctor, as well as the necessary instructions and automated control of correct performance. The idea being developed by Rehabilitatus is much cheaper than the traditional solutions, too. It doesn’t stretch the patient’s budget with those extra costs of commuting and saves time. The financial aspect is also a benefit from the point of view of the national healthcare system.
An outright simple, yet greatly needed thing is a pictogram system to be used on drug packaging. The aim is to give clear and readily available graphic information on how to use and store the medicine. The idea was conceived by Piotr Merks, who is now pursuing the project with Piktorex – a startup supported by Black Pearls VC. The invention’s author says that 21 per cent of patients were not given any information about the medicines they were using, and staggering 52 per cent lost their therapeutic advice leaflets. A plain and clean system of drug packaging information would make the life of patients easier, but it would also have a positive effect on drug safety – a benefit for the patient and for the public money. Treating complications that result from incorrect use of medicines is the cost paid by all of us, with the national budget money.
In the graphic information system project, Piktorex cooperates with the Warsaw Medical University. For students, the undertaking has an important educational value. They learn that it’s not only about the long toiling hours at the lab if you want to be successful and do something for the patients. What also matters is an innovative idea and the knowledge that you don’t really need a bag of money and business management skills to make it real. All you have to know is which door to knock.