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Lab to Life: a showcase of Philippines’ innovative health tech

Photo Credit: NIH-UP Manila/University of the Philippines

Innovative technological products were showcased during the 21st anniversary conference of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-University of the Philippines Manila recently.

As reported, the day-long conference included presentations and exhibit of abstracts of these “future” products as laboratory-tested solutions that can be made commercially viable and available for development with prospective industrial partners.

Among the technologies featured in the event with the theme, “Lab to Life: Translating Health Research for Filipinos,” are virtual reality applications for phobia therapies and electronic medical record systems, among others.

OTC Express

The OTC Express is a microprocessor and microcontroller-based automated vending machine that remotely monitors sales, transaction records, and product inventory through a database.

Done by members of the Adamson University’s Electronics Engineering Department, it aims to dispense non-prescription medicines and toiletries, or over the counter (OTC) products, which are commonly purchased from drugstores.

Customers will be able to save time since the machine allows flexible payments in coins, bills, and points earned through purchases using magnetic stripe cards. Plus, they do not have to queue at the cashier.

On the other hand, operators can easily monitor products with the machine’s proximity sensors.

Inventories are reported in real time, which makes restocking easier. It also eliminates periodic manual inspections.

Drowning Detection System

Also from the Adamson University’s Electronics Engineering Department is the drowning detection system, which helps lifeguards prevent drowning through the development of a wearable device and alarm system.

It senses body movements that are indicative of drowning since there are specific near-drowning body movement patterns that could be detected and assessed.

It utilises on motion detection and a receiving device that makes the system capable of sensing, communicating, comparing and initiating an alarm.

Tracking System for Patients with Alzheimer’s disease

Still from the aforementioned University, this project aims to develop a real-time tracking system for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Patients in nursing homes will use a wearable device that is linked to a personal computer-based software application.

This application then notifies administrators or caregivers if a patient has wandered out of the facility.

Using wireless GSM technology, the system will be able to locate the exact position of the patient.

Moreover, the individual devices of patients can be interconnected through mesh network data transfers among their wearable devices.

YANIG: A Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for Earthquake-related PTSD

This innovation is currently handled by the University of the Philippines Manila-Technology Transfer and Business Development Office (UPM-TTBDO).

It is a virtual reality application designed as an alternative way of exposing patients, with earthquake-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to their stressors.

Available for Android mobile devices, it can simulate earthquakes with intensity levels ranging from 4 to 10.

It allows the therapist to customise the parameters of the virtual environment and auditory cues to settings that are appropriate to the conditions of the patient.

VRETA: Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for Agoraphobia

Also from UPM-TTBDO, VRETA is an application designed to supplement treatment for patients with Agoraphobia, the irrational fear of being in open or public spaces.

It provides “exposure therapy” using virtual environments; reduces the time and cost of finding a suitable public place; and can generate a progress report after each simulation.

Furthermore, it protects the person’s privacy.

As defined, Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which the patient fears and avoids places or situations that might cause him or her to panic and make the patient feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.

The patient fears an actual or anticipated situation, such as using public transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, standing in line, or being in a crowd.

AVRET: Acrophobia Virtual Reality Exposure Treatment

Still from the UPM-TTBDO, AVRET is a program designed to help therapists treat patients with fear of heights.

Like the previous two, AVRET provides a virtual environment that the therapist can customise for the patients, allow more privacy and less costs.

Additionally, it minimises the risks posed by the outdoors and generate progress reports after each simulation.

RxBox and CHITS

Also a product of UPM-TTBDO, RxBox is a multi-component program designed to provide better access to life-saving health services in isolated and disadvantaged communities nationwide.

It includes the continuous development of a biomedical device; the Community Health Information Tracking System (CHITS), which is a pioneering electronic medical record system; telemedicine and their integration; and eHealth training of rural health professionals.

Around 160 government primary care facilities are using RxBox.

CHITS, on the one hand, is a secure and interoperable EMR capable of transmitting electronic reports to the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

There are around 180 public health centres that are using the system.

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