From one of the fastest-growing European IT companies, we get another interesting medtech project. This time, even more revolutionary, cooperation between Croatian IT company Q and biotech company Accunea brought us an application that helps track vital information from organs cued for transplantation.
The problem they are solving is well known and the solution is much needed. About 15-20% of donated organs across the world end up never being re-used because there are no tools to thoroughly analyse them or how they will be received by new patient’s body. Accunea Transplant Monitor application can become a part of the solution as it is developed to determine in advance whether the new host will be able to receive a particular organ before the organ is transplanted.
For now, they are focused primarily on kidneys and the long-term goal is to learn the potential of each donated organ before the transplanting procedure takes place. Having that insight will inevitably help a donated kidney find its suitable recipient more easily and more quickly.
How does it work?
Usually, to get all the necessary information the procedure requires the data analysis to be performed manually. However, Accunea’s application can enable remote analysis, so the data can be also tracked chronologically.
The technology itself works by placing sensors connected to an Arduino device on an organ set to be transplanted in a sterile environment. In that way, particular organ functions are available real time via Bluetooth. The Arduino device itself reads three values - creatinine, glucose, and lactate, as well as their oscillations important for the analysis.
How did this solution – came to life?
Of course, before the solution became hardware and software ready, Accunea’s team had hundreds of thousands of medical experiments and various readings and analyses throughout the years. But in this case, we want to focus on the technical side that brought all that hard work to life.
The native Android application was developed in Kotlin. The app is still used in-house, mainly by researchers, and it is not still available on Google Store. Besides the app itself, the Q team also assembled the firmware that was installed on the Android hardware (Android 33 BLE), which sends sensor data to the Android application.
Project Manager Igor Anušić, shared more details about the process:
Using BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) technology, the application remotely connects to the module and continuously receives the measured data from it, which is then displayed on a line chart and written to a file in CSV format on the Android device. This ensures that data is not lost if an unexpected interruption occurs during the experiment – the data will be safe and available for later analysis.
The line chart view provides an overview of the experiment in progress and allows medical personnel to add notes at specific points on the chart to indicate potential points of interest in the experiment.
Q team developed and designed the app during first weeks of 2021 and delivered it at the end of February. It also important to add that for this solution, Accunea even received financing from many relevant sources such as EU’s EIT program and Innovate UK.
This is not the first medical project for Q and by now it is fair to say they’ve outdone themselves in this field. At the end of 2020, in collaboration with American partners, Lymphatechnology, Q developed the innovative solution for non-contact measurement for compression fittings, they even received the German Innovation Award.
Besides that, this Croatian based company was already praised at large as one of the fastest-growing companies in Europe and last year, Clutch, the world’s leading research agency for ranking companies, named them one of the 20 best web development companies in the world, among the top ten in Europe and the best B2B company in Croatia.
Way to building better medtech solutions
In regards to all that, I talked with Q’s project managers to learn more about medtech challenges they face and what can their future clients expect if they approach them with a project. Besides them being very interesting, medical projects are quite a challenge for the fact that they are directly involved with health of an individual, Sanja Cvek, Q’s Project Manager, points out.
Our applications have an impact on the patient and as developers, we also have to assume great responsibility for the work we do. Also, we get to meet very interesting and knowledgeable people. However, there are some negative sides to the field. A very long chain of command leads to difficulties in decision-making. More complex functionalities can lead to few other hardships. Strict regulations don’t help either.
Also, usually technical development is not a priority of the day for the medical experts involved which sometimes can hamper the development process. In that case, Q would advise clients in advance to at least dedicate specific time for the product they work on so the tech team can have all the necessary information to work faster and more effectively in the meantime.
So, to conclude, the most important things that need to be set up in any (medtech) project are:
- a clear vision of the final product but also of the “journey” it has to go through (if it ever comes to an end because a good product is constantly being upgraded);
- a partnership relationship– clients need to trust the tech company, “the supplier”;
- key people on both sides (client: product owner & subject matter expert; supplier: dedicated project manager and business analyst)
- extensive understanding of all the circumstances and problems that can arise (and will) during development, and
- transparent communication with the aim to manage expectations.