Biomedical Engineering Project Wins Top Global Healthcare Award
Will’s paper titled:“Telespiro - a low-cost mobile spirometer for resource-limited settings” focuses on his MSc project work that was undertaken at the Department of Engineering Science Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBME). Will said: “Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a disabling combination of emphysema and chronic bronchitis, relies on spirometric lung function measurements for clinical diagnosis and treatment. Because spirometers are unavailable in most of the developing world, this project developed a low cost point of care spirometer prototype for the mobile phone called the 'TeleSpiro'.”
He added: “The key contributions of this work are the design of a novel repeat-use, sterilisable, low cost, phone-powered prototype meeting developing world user requirements. A differential pressure sensor, dual humidity/pressure sensor, microcontroller and USB hardware were mounted on a printed circuit board for measurement of air flow in a custom machine-lathed respiratory air flow tube. The embedded circuit electronics were programmed to transmit data to and receive power directly from either a computer or Android smartphone without the use of batteries. Software was written to filter and extract respiratory cycles from the digitised data. Differential pressure signals from Telespiro showed robust, reproducible responses to the delivery of physiologic lung volumes. The designed device satisfied the stringent design criteria of resource-limited settings and makes substantial in-roads in providing evidence-based chronic respiratory disease management”.
The IEEE Conference featured research presentations, technology panel discussions and forums on recent technological advances and global issues on implementation of Point-Of-Care (POC) technologies. Though the challenges of providing high-quality healthcare in developing countries are different than those in developed countries, there is a common aspiration to provide access to health monitoring and assessment technologies to people with limited or no healthcare facilities. While developed countries may find POC technologies as effective means for reducing healthcare costs and improving efficiency, POC technologies are critical in responding to essential healthcare needs in countries with large populations or rural areas.
Will Carspecken, who received a Knox Fellowship from Harvard to study for his MSc at Oxford University, graduated in 2012. He is now finishing his studies at Harvard Medical School and hopes to become an academic physician scientist developing technologies that improve patient care in the intensive care unit and the operating room. Of his MSc supervisor, Dr Gari Clifford, Will said: “Gari was a great mentor and advisor. He really inspired me!”