It’s easy to see the role that innovation and technology play in the developed world – just look at how our phones and gadgets are getting smaller and sleeker but doing more and more for us. In rural settings across the world, some of these same technological advances that make our lives more convenient are being used to find innovative solutions to a fundamental issue – improving healthcare.
Baylor College of Medicine’s Baylor Global Initiatives is taking a lead in the effort to harness the power of technology to address global healthcare needs. The challenge is to develop approaches to medical issues in areas that are more remote, less familiar and have fewer resources than our own, according to Dr. Sharmila Anandasabapathy, director of Baylor Global Initiatives.
The Emergency Smart Pod, developed by Anandasabapathy and colleagues to address the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, meets this challenge. This portable four-bed treatment unit can be quickly built and rapidly deployed in emergency response situations. During epidemics, like Ebola, as well as natural disasters, where clinical facilities need to be constructed rapidly, the Pod helps providers receive education quickly and offers central tracking for patients and supplies.
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Baylor College of Medicine received a grant from the United States Agency for International Development earlier this year for the development of the Emergency Smart Pod. The aluminum pod is the size of a shipping container and will include a suite of “smart” apps such as multilingual training apps, a bar-code patient/supply tracking system and tablet technologies for donning and doffing personal protective equipment.
“The challenges we face in global health require a radical change in our approaches and models – technologically, financially and culturally. The Pod is designed to overcome these challenges by providing a lower-cost, ‘off-grid’ solution to areas that lack medical capacity or need augmentation of existing capacity,” said Anandasabapathy.
The pods can be modified to become surgery, labor and delivery and endoscopy units, among other uses. This is important as global healthcare moves to an increased emphasis on chronic, noncommunicable diseases.
The pods recently arrived at Baylor College of Medicine and will be used as training facilities for healthcare providers.