par Brendon Nafziger
, DOTmed News Associate Editor | May 31, 2013
From the May 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
A simulator that fits in your pocket
This spring at the MD Expo, the company plans to unveil the PocketSIM, a smartphone-sized device for testing patient monitors and electrocardiography machines. The four-ounce device is the company’s first-ever foray into the world of commercial test equipment. “This is our first dive into the product development market,” says Dax Hafer, one of the engineers who designed the device, which is now out in a 100-print limited run as full-scale commercialization starts.
Indianapolis-based TriMedx is a subsidiary of Med- Excel, which is in turn owned by Ascension Health, the largest Catholic and non-profit health system in the United States. The company also runs the TriMedx Foundation, which carries out medical missions in places like Haiti, bringing U.S. biomeds with their expertise to train local techs or help fix equipment.
Last summer, TriMedx expanded its international reach, inking a deal with Indian heart surgeon Dr. Devi Shetty, who runs a chain of 14 cost-efficient hospitals in India, to provide biomedical services to other facilities in the country. Hafer and his fellow engineer and co-designer, Rob Cadick, said as they studied the situation in India, they realized local hospitals faced a huge barrier to setting up their own biomed shops: testing equipment costs too much. So, they reasoned, one way they could help supply Indian biomeds was by making their own equipment inhouse for less. If it worked, it was something U.S. hospitals would also appreciate.
With a small R&D team and limited resources, they decided to only target patient monitors and various ECG and respiration functions. “It became pretty apparent to us, that the most bang for the buck was going to be in patient monitors, because there are a lot of those in any given hospital,” Hafer says.
Keeping costs low
To keep it cheap, though, the engineers had to keep it simple. “A lot of the devices that are on the market right now have tons of functions and features built into them, but you don’t tend to use but a tenth of those,” Hafer says. Their device, which can handle five-lead ECGs, can test approximately 80 percent of patient monitors and ECGs on the market, Cadick says. It also tests 18 arrhythmia waveforms and half a dozen respiration waveforms.
This means 12-lead ECG carts are out, however, and many hospitals will need more multi-functional devices for annual preventive maintenance. But the PocketSIM could really excel at spot checks, its designers say. If a patient monitor is hooked up to a patient, and a nurse sees noisy waveforms, a technician can quickly be called in, carrying a PocketSIM, to check the monitor to see if it’s working properly.