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Surgical innovation scoops top award

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Developing a new concept to improve laryngeal surgery has won a Palmerston North Hospital surgeon the top prize at MidCentral DHB’s 2015 Innovation DHB Awards.

​Normally, laryngeal surgery (surgery of the larynx) uses a rigid metal laryngoscope to view the area that will be operated on. As it is rigid, it requires a straight line view of the throat, which can mean hyper-extension of the neck and pressure on the teeth or tongue. 

Dr Aneesh Kumar, an ear, nose and throat surgeon (otolaryngologist), came up with a novel new design that would provide better access to the throat during surgery. This new design would result in reduced theatre time, less stress on patients, and better patient outcomes.

Dr Kumar won a trip to the 2016 Health 2.0 conference in Barcelona, where many healthcare innovators gather to share the incredible developments happening in the world of health technology. MDHB’s innovation partners, BCC, will also continue to help Dr Kumar make his innovation a reality, through a rigorous development process. 

Two highly commended awards were also handed out, with Dr Nathalie de Vries winning one for her idea of an app to help provide information to parents who have babies admitted to the Neonatal Unit. The second went to Dr Moazzam Zaidi for an app that will allow health practitioners with dermatitis to be assessed remotely, rather than having to visit a clinic before they are cleared to return to work.
A spot prize of an Apple Watch, donated by Orion Health, was won by Whitney Gresham, who had the idea to develop interactive therapy groups to support the emotional wellbeing of older patients that are admitted to hospital.

The BCC will continue to work with many of this year’s entrants to further develop their ideas. Last year’s winner, respiratory physiotherapist Mike Perry, also spoke about the progress on his winning idea, a simplified positive expiratory pressure device (PEP). His new design is now at the prototype phase, and he hopes to begin trialling it with patients soon. He has had interest in the device from clinicians across Australia and New Zealand.

MDHB’s General Manager, Clinical Services and Transformation, Mike Grant, was pleased to see the strength of this year’s entries.

He said: “This second Innovation DHB competition has shown that the spirit of innovation is doing well at MidCentral DHB. The strength and breadth of these entries was great to see, and we are beginning to unearth some really clever innovations from our talented staff. Our partners at BCC are doing a fantastic job of nurturing these ideas, and we look forward to continuing our work with them.”

BCC Technology Transfer Advisor Jane Donaldson, sees a lot of potential for innovation in the health sector.

She said: “The competition this year was very tough, and we look forward to working with the entrants to take their ideas forward. Health is one of the biggest employment areas in Palmerston North and we really see the potential for a lot of innovation in this sector in the future.”

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