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2015 SXSW Medtech Expo:  Ebola
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2015 SXSW Medtech Expo: Ebola

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SXSW is more than a music festival–it’s also an opportunity for technology innovators to gather and share solutions to health problems.  Nurse Mia Ross gives us details from the 2015 SXSW Medtech Expo.


This week, the Ebola crisis resurfaced when a group of volunteers were evacuated from Sierra Leone after an American clinician tested positive for the virus. Though the West-African endemic has slowed, the threat of contracting Ebola in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea (the three countries most affected) is still very real, especially for healthcare workers.

The United States Agency of International Development (USAID) is working with smart technology to change this.  On Saturday, at the SX Health and MedTech Expo, USAID unveiled both a new biomedical suit and MultiSense Memory Wearable sensor to aid in the world-wide struggle to contain Ebola.

Wearing the current biomedical hazard suit is arduous and time consuming.   There are many pieces and layers to arrange, the suit takes over thirty minutes to prepare and those inside grow uncomfortably hot quickly.  The new biomedical suit, developed by scientists at John Hopkins, is one piece, contains an anti-fogging mask and is equipped with an internal cooling system.  It takes two minutes to put on.  There is still work to be done, but USAID states that parts of this new suit should reach Africa in a few a months.

The other amazing product, the MultiSense Memory Sensor or “smart band-aid” eliminates the need for clinicians to risk their lives to monitor patient vital signs.  No more contaminating equipment (like thermometers).  This flexible “smart band-aid” is placed on the sternum of the Ebola victim.  It performs a baseline screening of heart rate, temperature and oxygen saturation and continuously monitors changes from the initial rates.  The final version will use Bluetooth to transmit data.  This allows providers to monitor data during high-risk periods from a safe-zone.  The “band-aid” has a battery life of 7-10 days.  A typical course of the Ebola treatment lasts about 5 days.  Though treatment is still experimental, there has been success in eliminating the virus when initiated early.

Finally, we are using 21-first century solutions to fix long-standing, worldwide health concerns.  Bravo, USAID, MultiSense and SXSW!

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  • Hey Mia,

    Great article! I enjoyed your recap. Great information for the public to educate us on how the medical community is dealing with Ebola using the latest technology.

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