What kind of Solutions do fellows develop?
We mentioned in our first blog post that “BENEFIT trains talented teams to identify the most pressing healthcare needs during their clinical immersions while equipping them with the tools to develop solutions that are optimally fitted to the needs of the market.”
A logical follow-up question is then: What kind of solutions?
Why we cannot foresee the future ...
The answer is: We cannot be specific since the fellows will be guided by the needs they observe and develop the most pressing one.
While this may sound vague, it does make sense since the fellowship teams start with a blank canvas. They do not know at the start of their journey what they will encounter during the clinical immersions; they do not predict what solution they will bring to the market in advance and the hosts have a completely open mindset towards the entire process.
This approach to innovation is very efficient since this type of needs-led medical innovation is about finding clinical areas that are in urgent need for better care rather than about finding fancy solutions to unimportant problems.
In addition - in the hypothetical case that teams were observing the same clinical department - any healthcare practitioner will tell you that no two days in the clinical practice are the same and, of course, different teams observing means different interactions (e.g. with patients) and therefore different conclusions. And different conclusions lead to different solutions.
... but can look at past results
Below are a few examples of what other teams did. This list is far from exhaustive and more examples can be found through our fellowship network.
Albus Health | This small non-contact table-top device provides intelligence respiratory monitoring at home. The device picks up early warning signs of an impending asthma attack up to days in advance and monitors a range of respiratory symptoms and environmental metrics. It not only helps asthma patients self-manage their condition and prevents emergencies, the data collected is also used for further research on long-term respiratory symptoms. Albus Health has won numerous awards and prizes so it is definitely worth checking out their website. Albus Health is a result of Oxford Biodesign and was recently featured in this success story on EIT Health's website together with a colleague spin off.
Espace Maternité | A Senegal-based social enterprise that is providing a mobile gynaecological image service to pregnant women in urban and rural Senegal. Espace Maternité was the result of a fellowship created in 2020 by Oxford University, Sorbonne University and the Sanofi Espoir Foundation. They had decided to create a new stream within the fellowship focussed on social entrepreneurship and launched a pilot with a focus on maternal and newborn health in resource-constrained settings with a clinical immersion in Senegal.
The 3 fellows - Myra, Sall and Mihir - immersed themselves and identified 400+ needs which were later narrowed down to 30 before they decided to launch Espace Maternité. Since the website is in French we contacted Mihir for an interview.
GE5 Risk Scale | This algorithm-based injury risk assessment tool developed by fellows from our Starship programme prevents sports injuries by visualising data ranging from mental health to physical characteristics. Those data are used to personalise injury prevention programmes. The risk scale prevents a lot of pain but also saves time and money since the sports clubs do not need to pay sick leave to injured players.
usMIMA | This healthtech company launched in 2016 when the founders met during the d·Health fellowship in Spain. usMIMA launched Mowoot, basically a belt that emulates colon-specific massage techniques to avoid chronic constipation. This non-invasive solution avoids laxatives or invasive treatments such as enemas and has a huge impact on the patient’s quality of life.
Selio Medical | This result of the BioInnovate fellowship programme in Ireland prevents a dangerous complication that occurs in one in three lung biopsies: lung collapse or pneumothorax. Selio Medical’s patent-protected single use, smart device temporarily seals the needle access route into the lung before the biopsy even takes place. The device prevents expensive hospital admissions and literally saves lives.
We realise that many of the examples above relate to device innovation. As we said initially, there are no set expectations at the start of the fellowship to go into one direction or the other. We will feature an interview with alumni over the next few weeks so that you can read more about other lessons learnt.
Update: we added some alumni stories to our blog.