The first call for participants went out early in the year, and by the May deadline, 29 applications had been received. Five were selected, and the winners were presented last week by the four Flemish ministers involved: Kris Peeters (minister-president and economy), Jo Vandeurzen (health), Philip Muyters (finance) and Ingrid Lieten (innovation).
“During the coming months, the selected projects will demonstrate their value in tests with the end-user in the field,” Peeters said. The projects will also be accompanied by a specialised panel of experts.
RemeCare is aimed at treating sufferers of chronic heart and lung complaints at home, involving constant monitoring of each patient's critical symptoms by caregivers, in conjunction with the University Hospital of Leuven and the Our Lady Hospital in Aalst. According to Dr Mark Goethals of Aalst, the RemeCare system allows the rapid exchange of information to prevent patients going to the doctor for minor symptoms, while ensuring any serious change in condition is immediately spotted. The result is a savings in both suffering of patients and cost for the health sector.
The idea for ReSkin came from the cycling world, as cyclists needed flexible dressing that would allow them to continue training. The adhesive support dressing turned out to be perfectly suited to the needs of the less mobile elderly, for whom pressure sores are a constant problem. The patch was developed with the textile lab of the University College of Ghent and the Flemish Agency for Innovation through Science and Technology (IWT). It is dermatologically safe and impermeable, and the inner layer is non-adherent, allowing it to be removed without pain.
SOET stands for Self-Operated Endovaginal Telemonitoring and is aimed at women going through fertility treatment. In normal circumstances, a woman has to visit a treatment centre repeatedly to monitor ovulation. Using a simple ultrasound probe and an internet connection, SOET allows that to be done at home. The project also has an international application: it works for women living in remote areas. The project was set up with the help of the Ghent University Hospital. “Once the woman has learned how to use the probe, the rest is as simple as sending an email,” said Professor Jan Gerris.
The Zorgslot, or Care Lock, allows caregivers to enter the homes of elderly people with limited mobility. The caregiver carries an electronic key that gives access to the patient's home, while the lock itself notifies the resident via a mobile phone that someone is entering. According to Wouter Fransen of Farion, the manufacturer, the system is “simple, flexible and affordable”, can be installed in ten minutes and can also be used as a platform for other appliances such as smoke detectors.
The Blue Call Phone is an app for a smartphone that gives people with learning difficulties more independence. The phone is in constant GPS connection with the care centre, and, in case of problems, the carrier only has to press the Blue Assist logo to be connected. The phone can also be pre-programmed with questions for members of the public, such as asking for directions, and contains a calendar with reminders for appointments and a camera, which allows phone contacts to be filed using images of the person instead of names.
The second call, which will go out soon, follows the same lines as the first: demonstration projects involving health and business partners that innovate to improve patient care in Flanders, while at the same time offering the possibility of spreading Flemish innovation internationally.
The third invitation will concentrate on projects that offer social and medical advantages but that may have no initial commercial attraction. In all cases, priority criteria for consideration include patient autonomy, home care, preventive care and the use of technology, and target three priority groups: the elderly, people with dementia and the disabled. Projects in the second call will share a budget of €1 million and in the third call €500,000.