What's Happening in IPO

4 Sep 2015

Simple technology to make BIG difference in healthcare problems in the developing world

Student Innovation for Global Health Technology, hosted by the Division of Biomedical Engineering, led by Prof. Ying CHAU, mobilizes students from different disciplines to apply their knowledge in transforming innovative ideas into tangible solutions to tackle healthcare problems of poor communities. It held a press conference on 31 August 2015 to show their fruitful trips to Cambodia.

SIGHT’s motto is “Simple Technology, BIG Difference”. Prof. Ying CHAU said that they wanted to make BIG difference with simple technology.  Even it only has impact on only one person is also valuable.  She believes that beside professional knowledge, social responsibility is also important for a future leader.  They teach students to put “human” at the center of the design and develop simple technology which can be adapted sustainably in developing countries to help improve their healthcare problems.       

SIGHT team has partnered with One-2-One – a New Zealand-based non-profit making organization who runs mobile clinics in slums of Cambodia.  SIGHT students visited Cambodia last year to observe their work and talk with the medical staff there.

One-2-One medical staff used to put all medicines in a travelling luggage and transported to the slums to set-up mobile clinics. It cost them long time to re-arrange and repack the disheveled medicines and they were not well-protected and easily damaged in the luggage. SIGHT’s Hardware Team students designed a portable drug dispensary box which is made with simple, light and easily replaceable materials.  It allows better storage of medicines in categories with protection and easier transportation.   

Carrying bulky paper records of patients is another problem of the mobile clinic. Tons of paper records were too bulky to carry and made them hard to identify and retrieve the specific records of particular patients. SIGHT’s Software Team students designed an electronic medical record system whose format is similar with the current paper record and consists of a fingerprint reader that allows accurate identification and easy retrieval of patients’ records.  It also helps improve the stocking of drugs and allows foreign doctors to access patients’ records and give professional advices through internet connection.   

SIGHT teams went back to Cambodia in June this year with the portable drug dispensary box, the electronic medical system plus funds raised from HKUST community for the purchase of water filters and 3 laptops donated by HKUST staff.  They spent 9 intensive days there to train the One-2-One medical staff to adapt to the two new inventions as well as improving them based on users’ feedbacks. They do not only help to enhance the efficiency and quality of the healthcare work in the slums, but also improve the dignity of people there that they are deserved for better healthcare service.     

SIGHT plans to partner with more NGOs and integrates the program with students’ final year project and postgraduate study to mobilize more students to help the less fortunate in other parts of the world with their expertise.

  • Prof. Ying CHAU (front middle) and the SIGHT Team

  • Put medicines in the trays of portable drug dispensary box

  • Easy transportation

  • Medicines are stored properly in categories

  • Students train local staff to use the electronic medical record system

  • Training on-site

  • Use of fingerprint reader

  • Use the electronic medical record system with patient