How 3D printing transforms the healthcare industry
In todays society, 3D...
In today’s society, 3D printed jewelry, shoes, pens and even vehicles are available to purchase on the open market. The 3D-printing industry grew by 35.2 percent in 2014, and although there was a slight slowdown in 2015, its products are available in a wide range of industries.
But the most appealing sector for 3D printing is healthcare, especially with the cost continuing to fall and the technology becoming more accessible.
Most healthcare technology is expensive when initially hitting the market before becoming cheaper over time. However, the majority of new 3D-printed products are accessible at a much more reasonable price.
As low manufacturing prices continue to fall, 3D printing makes customizations more realistic and makes formerly impossible treatments much easier to conduct.
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This shift may disrupt the trend of rising medical care costs with a large aging population set to put added pressure on the healthcare system.
Part of the reason 3D-printed solutions are often cost-effective is the technology. The process involves building solid, three-dimensional objects from a digital model, using additive processes in which successive layers of material are assembled on top of one another to build the desired object.
This means items can be assembled directly from a digital model, increasing precision and removing room for error.
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Many 3D-printed medical solutions are still in their experimental stages, but initial tests are promising in a variety of areas. Princeton University scientists have used 3D-printing tools to create a bionic ear that can hear radio frequencies far beyond the range of normal human capability.
Meanwhile there are plenty of other advances in the field of 3D bioprinting, and many of them have been a part of successful surgeries and treatments. It has made large strides in cancer treatment alone, as researchers developed a fast, inexpensive way to make facial prostheses for patients who had undergone surgery for eye cancer, using facial scanning software and 3D printing.
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But medical 3D printing is not just for the most serious medical issues. In fact, it might become a part of mainstream medical practice to treat a wide range of people. 3D-printed ankle replacements, 3D-printed casts, and 3D-printed pills have all been developed in the past two years, with encouraging success rates.
Source: Harvard Business Review
Birdie aims to reinvent elderly care with tech
British startup Birdie has announced it has raised £8.2 million to invest in innovation and scale up the business.
The company's announcement is timely as it follows the criticism of the UK government over their lack of a plan for social care, despite acknowledging the sector is in crisis - around a quarter of the UK's home care providers are on the brink of bankruptcy due to a lack of funds and staffing.
Birdie was born with a mission to "radically improve the lives of millions of older adults", by using app-based solutions, IoT and machine learning to put preventative care at the forefront. The company was founded by Max Parmentier, after experiencing his own frustrations with the care system - his grandfather struggled with the impact of life in a care home, but lacked any other option.
In 2017 Parmentier partnered with venture builder Kamet Ventures to set up Birdie, in a bid to fix this problem. Since then, Birdie has partnered with almost 500 providers across the UK, and supports more than 20,000 older people every week. In the past 12 months alone the number of people Birdie supports has got six times greater.
Birdie’s solution is an app to help care providers deliver more coordinated, personalised and preventative care, by giving them access to digital assessments, medication scheduling and planning tools. By using digital tools to take care of admin, staff have more time to spend with their care recipients.
The new investment will be used to fund Birdie’s next phase of growth in the UK, as the company scales to meet the rapidly growing demand of the aging population. The company will also invest in product innovation, creating new features to address customer requests.
In addition, Birdie is piloting new care models, including partnering with the NHS to identify COVID-19 symptoms, building predictive pharmacy models with AI, and helping health authorities to detect early warning signs of patients’ health risks.
Internally, Birdie is committed to having a progressive company ethos. All salaries are transparent, and staff work asynchronously to maximise flexibility and equity. Staff members also volunteer in their local community during office hours, and the company offsets all its emissions.
These efforts have led to numerous awards, including having the best SME culture in the UK, an Honorable Mention in the Health category of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards, and innovation in care at the LangBuisson awards.
“We believe the future of care for older people should be helping them to live at home for as long as possible through the delivery of personalised and preventative care" Parmentier said.
"Birdie is already the partner of choice for caregivers up and down the UK, and this new funding will help us rapidly increase the number we partner with and what we can offer them - meaning more people benefiting from more affordable, quality care. We’re proud of our mission and the values we embody to pursue it.”