Quality healthcare for everyone - A Frugal Patient Monitoring Platform

In low-resource settings, early diagnosis is both the most essential and challenging task when trying to reduce the number of pediatric deaths. The med-tech startup GOAL3 (inspired by Sustainable Development Goal 3: ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages) is aiming to do something about this, and is working on the development of a tablet assisted pediatric monitor for low-resource settings called IMPALA. The IMPALA monitor tracks vital signs of the neonate (heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation) and by using predictive algorithms facilitates early diagnosis of severe infections. 

GOAL 3 and the student team

GOAL 3 is a med-tech startup that wants to make quality healthcare available to all. They mainly focus on neonatal and pediatric care in low- and middle income countries in East Africa. Often the medical staff do not have the right knowledge and equipment to provide the proper aid to the patients. GOAL 3 tackles this problem by providing an easy-to-use digital tool for health workers who work in an environment with limited means. GOAL 3 wants to transfer the monitor into a platform to which experts can contribute, by compiling data and making it possible to use the system in an adaptable way on a broader scale. This way they are addressing the needs of the customers.

The student team from CFIA’s minor Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development (FI4SGD) is looking at a potential separate project regarding maternal mortality rates and the quality of antenatal care in Kenya, and how an intervention called check2gether can make a difference. Check2gether is a portable backpack that enables health workers to conduct an antenatal care checkup in rural areas and consists of a comprehensive non-invasive testing kit that incorporates BP measurement, HB, and protein glucose in urine tests as well as a mobile application that supports decision making. 

Check2gether kit

The next step

The job that the student group is focusing on is to conduct a feasibility assessment on the implementation of check2gether in Kenya. The end goal is to provide GOAL3 with informed and well-rounded advice on whether to further pursue their cooperation with the research organisation TNO regarding check2gether. Louisa, as a clinical psychology student, will be looking at the social and cultural barriers and facilitators to implementation, while Pim, as a technical medicine student, will be looking at the technical factors. Lastly,  Lilly, as a political science student, will be looking at the organizational factors that affect implementation. So far the student team have done 2 weeks of intense background research on Kenya and have spoken to a lot of the people involved in development. Currently, the group is working on the problem statement and have started reaching out to potential beneficiaries and stakeholders for interviews. 

Both of the innovations (IMPALA and check2gether) help empower the beneficiary by empowering midwives and community healthcare workers, making their jobs easier, and allowing them to work more independently. Through this, a key resource that is available in abundance is employed efficiently: human resources.

Frugal Innovation aspect and objectives

The aim of GOAL 3 is to build a monitor that has all the functions of a high-quality system but that can also be repaired with minimal resources, making it frugal. The neonatal care monitor is built in a way that it can be used in the environments that the device needs to operate in. The monitor design is easy to read which means that the doctors, midwives, and community health care workers that will be using it do not need to receive extensive training before being able to use the device. TNO’s antenatal care service´s main frugal aspect is its portability. It was developed to be used by community health care workers and midwives in remote areas which addresses the needs of the particular context for which it was developed. It also includes a smartphone application implementing medical decision support which is a frugal way of using what is already there to improve on innovation. Furthermore, the device empowers midwives and stimulates local entrepreneurship which could be seen as one of the desired outcomes of frugality. GOAL 3 and TNO have been working hard to create innovations that are easy to use, robust, low maintenance, and culturally acceptable. In short: frugal.

Project Team 2020-2021

Internship provider: GOAL 3

Student Research Team

  • Pim Steens (TU Delft – Technical Medicine)
  • Louisa Marie Truß (Leiden University– Psychology)
  • Lilly Ann Acner  (Leiden University – Political Science/International Relations)

Academic Supervisor

  • Jan Carel Diehl - Industrial Design Engineering at TU Delft