Those who enter the medical profession are often drawn to the field due to a proclivity and high aptitude for biology, science, chemistry, and related subjects. For those who make the cut, however, getting into medical and nursing schools around the world, and graduating—there is generally one major goal in mind: they hope to make their mark on the world by helping people. And when people’s lives are at stake, quick thinking and resourcefulness are key.
Whether doctors and nurses are working in city hospitals or remote areas of the world, quality medical tools for treatment and diagnostics are crucial. They are also in a continual state of refinement—and often that is due to input and innovation via medical professionals. Now, that’s being encouraged as a deliberate exercise, rather than something that happens by accident or during a one-off research project.
ProgressTH is a Bangkok-based makerspace and media platform that works in numerous areas to enhance communities through organizing workshops such as one recently completed by the Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health. Centered around all that nurses in particular have to offer in terms of ideas for new and improved medical products, the workshop is meant to promote the use of 3D printing for innovation in the hospital environment.
“The nurses have been coming up with the ideas, and we’ve been designing and fabricating them on a locally produced RepRap-based FDM printer,” Brian Berletic of ProgressTH told 3DPrint.com.
The makerspace and hospital have been collaborating over the last year, as we’ve reported, with ProgressTH helping medical professionals—especially nurses—to also take on the title of ‘medical makers.’ Last we checked, amazing progress had been made in training healthcare professionals in the progressive new technology of 3D printing, with the results being new products with great potential for medicine, from a 3D printed modified cap design for needle disposal systems to kid-friendly dermatological tools.
“Nurses, it turns out, are also skilled part-time makers, often improvising on the spot with materials on hand to solve problems as they present themselves,” said ProgressTH in their most recent press release. “However, with 3D printing, it is possible to solve these problems in a more permanent and precise manner, and then replicate these solutions accurately to be used on a larger scale.”
“We went through several iterations with the nurses over several months, who would provide us feedback throughout each step of the process so we could develop better solutions.”
Now, ProgressTH and QSNICH have recently completed work together on both a workshop for medical makers, as well as a presentation by the nurses on all that they have created with 3D printed, also to include a bubble-level used to calibrate bed height in the ICU and a blood-clotting device.
The workshop was three hours long. Not only limited to nurses (of which there were 10-15 attending), other healthcare professionals were present as well in an introduction to digital design and 3D printing, using SketchUp Make, a user-friendly drawing tool suitable for makers on all levels.
Inspiring medical professionals further, the nurses gave a presentation at the hospital. Attended by media and almost 100 other nurses, this event not only highlighted the passion these nurses have for creating new products as well as improving on others, but also gave others ideas regarding how they too could use 3D printing for problem-solving. The presentation and workshop offered a beginning foundation for learning how to use the new technology, as well as allowing them to see the processes that the nurses currently innovating with 3D printing at QSNICH have gone through to reach desired results.
Just several days after the workshop and presentation, the momentum kept going as QSNICH hosted other nurses from Chiang Mai, a Thai city to the north. All in the spirit of sharing technology and innovation which will ultimately and most importantly help improve treatment for patients, the QSNICH nurses displayed their recent projects in regards to 3D printing. ProgressTH points out that in Chiang Mai the makerspaces are actually more progressive, boasting more members with more skills.
“Their ability to help solve healthcare challenges with the skills shared among their members could make an even greater impact than we’ve made so far over the past year,” said ProgressTH. “Together, we can make a bigger impact still.”
ProgressTH will continue to work with QSNICH, but their goals today are even more expansive as they’d like to include more doctors, as well as nurses, and offer opportunities for a variety of new projects; not only that, ProgressTH wants to encourage this type of collaboration between other hospitals and makerspaces nationwide, with the vision of ‘a network of makers’ helping each other in sharing all of their ideas, including designs and files, online.
They also foresee many hospitals themselves having their own makerspaces where doctors, nurses, and all healthcare professionals can work together in the important and challenging tasks of solving medical problems creatively and affordably, while making the quality of life better for all their patients. Having a 3D printer onsite would offer, in the long run, great benefits for the budget, allowing medical makers to create without having to set up special events or send out prototyping ideas to a service bureau.
“We believe eventually that hospitals will fully take advantage of new tools that allow for same-day design, fabrication, and testing, and look forward to helping whichever hospitals in Thailand decide to take this leap forward,” says ProgressTH. “Over time, we expect that as localized design, development, and manufacturing is adopted by hospitals around the world, not only will the quality of care go up, the cost of care will drop.”
Inviting others to use technology to change their world, ProgressTH organizes workshops based on everything from subjects such as digital design and 3D printing to organic agriculture and DIY biology. To find out more about this diverse company, see here. Discuss their plans further over in the Bangkok Medical Makers forum at 3DPB.com.