With the coronavirus spreading from one country to another, the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on our daily lives has been inevitable. Every sector is looking for a way to adapt to ongoing challenges. What is truly comforting is how fast new solutions are emerging to help fight the crisis. Oulu is no exception, as health & life science companies from the region have stepped in to provide innovations in response to rapidly changing realities. They support healthcare systems and provide patients with better care.
Ready to fight back COVID-19 with health innovations
The coronavirus is changing the world as we know it, but could there be some positive outcomes of the crisis? As the situation with the epidemic began to worsen internationally, a quest to find new health solutions was initiated. In Oulu, several products and services have been adapted, and new ones developed, in order to cater for the emerging needs. People are staying indoors, businesses are moving to virtual reality, face-to-face interactions are dramatically reduced, and healthcare systems overloaded. These challenges are met by Oulu-based companies that bring to the market the innovations that can be used in the battle against the virus.
Solutions in the fields of diagnostics, disease prevention and patient monitoring
Nukute has developed a novel user-friendly method to screen and analyze sleep apnea patients remotely. The Nukute collar can be now applied to monitoring COVID-19 patients. With its help, hospitals track in real-time the biosignals, such as respiratory rate and oxygen saturation of the patients that recover from the disease at home or at hospital ward. Data is compressed and sent to the cloud, where it is analysed by algorithms and then presented to a nurse or physician. In case the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) develops, the patient can be called into hospital at the right time. If the condition of the patient gets worse, the staff receive information in almost real-time and can decide the best course of action.
Monidor offers a groundbreaking new device, Monidrop, for accurate IV therapy and its remote monitoring even when there is a shortage of pumps in hospital wards. Monidrop secures direct visibility to the ongoing intravenous therapy, displaying infusion speed, total volume, time and set targets. This solution significantly saves nurses’ time and minimizes visits in patient rooms, which obviously reduces physical contact between care personnel and patients.
9Solutions brings to the market a way to improve communication between nurses and patients, which can be a problem when it comes to treating the overflow of patients. The company has adapted its existing nurse call system to a plug-and-play model, Nurse Call Lite, which can be up and running in less than a day. The solution has three components: a nurse call handset used by the patient uses for either urgent or non-urgent calls, a room terminal enabling voice connection between nursing staff and the patient, and a mobile app, which also enables nurses to manage alarms and communicate with the patients remotely. 9Solutions’ product also answers the needs of temporary field hospitals set up in, for example, sports arenas and conference venues.
With the Medanets app, a nurse can retrieve patient EMR/EHR data, manage bedside documentation and access evidence-based practice via a mobile device. The solution enables immediate data monitoring and faster observation of any changes in the patient’s condition. It simplifies nursing routines, supports decision making, releases time to care and enables more hygienic information flow.
iSTOC answers the need for testing large populations quickly and cost-efficiently, and for identifying also asymptomatic people that have already had Covid-19. This company has developed a mobile diagnostics solution for screening and mapping the spread of different infectious diseases, like Covid-19. The innovation is used with rapid tests that can detect antibodies from a small drop of blood. Test results are scanned with a smartphone and digitized. Reliable results are ready in minutes, which means that further examination and treatment can start immediately. With the information gathered from the testing, healthcare authorities can prevent the spread of diseases more effectively. Rapid diagnostic tests can be performed with low cost in point of care, for example in diagnostics kiosks, mobile diagnostics labs, bedside at hospitals, clinics and laboratories.
Screentec has adapted its production line to start mass production of face protecting visors (the Screentec Visor) and FFP3 masks, which strengthens Finland’s domestic production capabilities and existing healthcare supply chains. Weekly production volumes of the Screentec Visor are already in excess of 30 000 units. The company has signed a deal with 5 Finnish university hospitals and set up a production line for almost six million FFP3 masks. These masks protect the user from a minimum of 99% of particles, with leakage of 2% or less under EU standards. This means they are some of the best pieces of protective gear available to prevent infections from happening.
Solutions in the field of telemedicine
In telemedicine, the COVID-19 pandemic could prove to be a real turning point, as it may have resulted in many people experiencing virtual consultation for the first time. In order to see a doctor, patients usually need to stay in waiting rooms where they may infect other people, or become infected themselves. Patients with complex needs may still want to see their doctors in person, but the new trends in healthcare will probably remain in regular use. Oulu also has a lot to offer in this field.
Peili Vision has created a virtual reality platform for neurological rehabilitation, which supports patients in their recovery processes, also during critical times, without any physical contact between the patient and the therapist. This innovation enables, for example, post-stroke rehabilitation from home. It consists of VR software, headgear and a tablet. By means of the headgear, patients transfer themselves to a virtual world designed by a therapist and perform exercises customised to stimulate their personal rehabilitation processes.
Near Real enables secure and high-quality remote consultation. The solution includes audio, video, screen sharing and chat functionalities that connect patients with doctors without the need for physical contact. In this way, a doctor receives almost the same level of information about the patient as during face-to-face interaction. The Near Real innovation smoothly integrates with both healthcare and patient information systems.
The world is in an urgent need for new solutions to adapt to the current situation and future consequences caused by the coronavirus. Oulu, undoubtedly, has not yet spoken its last word in this matter. The health solutions developed in this city are a true silver lining in a crisis and help us believe that we can win the battle with the spreading virus.