Product design and development firm Cambridge Consultants has unveiled a new approach to diagnostic instrument development. The Flow Health Hub brings the power of the clinical laboratory into the home – in the shape of a simple, cost-effective, user-friendly device that can both take samples and give results fast. It could spell the end of many regular hospital appointments for routine tests – saving time for both patients and medical staff.
The hub acts as a connected bedside information terminal – analysing the data it collects and automatically alerting the patient’s doctor if medical intervention is needed. This opens the door to more people being able to take charge of their own health – whether that’s tracking personal fitness or monitoring pre-existing medical conditions.
Diabetics, for example, or patients at risk of heart disease due to high cholesterol levels could build up their own trend history of their blood glucose or cholesterol levels – with their doctor alerted only when there is a problem. Or a fitness enthusiast could use the Flow Health Hub to check their hydration levels and know when to drink more fluids or when to rest.
The Flow Health Hub concept consists of a reader and a set of colour-coded, easy-to-use consumable cartridges that can take small samples of bodily fluids such as blood, urine and saliva. The user simply selects the appropriate cartridge – the blood one, for example, has an integrated lancet to do a fingerstick test – takes a sample and then inserts the cartridge into the reader.
The device uses established microfluidic technology to perform a range of standard tests – such as lipid, metabolic, renal and electrolyte panels – with the results available on the built-in screen in just minutes. Tests can be done at regular intervals, with algorithms in the Flow Health Hub analysing the data and alerting the patient’s doctor if necessary.
The device provides an early warning system for problems such as high cholesterol levels or changes in renal function – and makes recommendations for corrective action. It can also link the results to apps to track an individual’s fitness levels and help them maximise their training regime, diet and performance.
“We are on the cusp of a convergence of trends in diagnostic healthcare,” said John Pritchard, head of diagnostics at Cambridge Consultants. “Diagnostic technologies have matured – becoming more compact, accessible and affordable. At the same time, patients increasingly want to monitor their own health, whether tracking personal fitness or monitoring pre-existing medical conditions.
“Against this backdrop, we have created a conceptual vision of the future – Flow Health Hub – that brings the power of the clinical lab into the home. The device is a tool to aid preventative care or to help diagnose potentially life-threatening changes in a patient’s health so that quicker medical intervention or more targeted therapies can be received.
“Although Flow Health Hub is a concept at this stage, it is only a matter of time until this technology finds its way into our homes. With our expertise in optics, fluidics, industrial design, human factors, mechanical engineering, system engineering, wireless and software development, we have the unique skills mix to turn this idea into reality.”