Two weeks into NZ’s lockdown with most Kiwis complying and staying home, has seen the number of people testing positive for COVID19 drop dramatically in the last three days. This is the best Easter present for New Zealand in my view, better than the largest Easter egg we can find!
The NZ research community and industry have risen to the challenge for expertise, resource and technology to support our clinicians, as well as help manage and prevent the spread of COVID19. I have been humbled and privileged to see the generosity from individuals and companies and the open collaborations that have taken place in these last 14 days across NZ from the CMDT and MedTech CoRE networks and beyond.
Three areas that researchers and industry are focusing on at present are in securing our COVID19 diagnostic testing capability and capacity, development of ventilators, and addressing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) availability and disinfection. PPE has been making headline news and we now all understand the critical role the N95 masks and face shields play in helping protect our frontliners. Although NZ has secured its PPE import chain, it is still comforting to know that several NZ companies are now part of a local supply line. Some of these have stepped out of their normal line of business to produce PPE such as a company in Albany and another in Invercagill. The MedTech CoRE team at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute also responded to the initial calls from ADHB clinicians and has co-designed a face shield that is now in production with industry partners.
This week, in the midst of lockdown, TIN and the CMDT released the first NZ Healthtech Insights Report (see link below) to offer a deep dive into the country’s largest tech industry sub-sector, Healthcare Technology. The desire for this Report arose out of conversations between key proponents of New Zealand’s healthcare industry who agreed that there was a need for a single shared overview of the NZ HealthTech sector that illustrated its potential for economic growth and social contribution. The HealthTech Insights Report, was initially developed in late 2019 but it has now taken on a new relevance and resonance in the current global situation around COVID-19.
There are 185 medtech companies in the NZ Healthtech sector and many are delivering healthcare solutions that are in high demand globally which address the toughest new health problems facing the world today. Such companies include both established world-leaders like Fisher & Paykel Healthcare with its respiratory devices, to emerging companies like Soul Machines and its Virtual Humans which have technology that are highly relevant to helping address the issues around COVID19.
In this newsletter, we profile two companies that have repurpose their technologies for today's environment. The Clinician's patient outcome measures platform is being used to manage the wellbeing of communities dealing with COVID-19, while 2040, a company with a thermal imaging platform for predators in the bush is now reusing their system to identify people with fevers in public. Over the next few newsletters we will continue to bring you stories of the different ways industry and the MedTech CoRE community are contributing to NZ’s security and wellbeing. Look out as well for our MedTech Bites’ opinion pieces on relevant topics to the current COVID-19 world.
Stay safe and keep well.
Dr Diana Siew
CMDT Co-Chair and Associate Director of MedTech CoRE