Case Study: Huntingdon Telemedicine Cart Mobile Medical Trolley
A complete office in a lightweight, portable medical device design for consultations in real time
In 2012 Thomas E. Uttley, MD, a psychiatrist with a large clinical practice, took an interest in the then still-emerging field of telemedicine. He found nothing that came close to what he envisioned, which was something more transportable than the COWs (computer on wheels) common in hospitals but with more capabilities than the devices that EMTs carry in the field to read and transmit vitals. In short, he wanted a mobile medical cart for remote consultations in real time. After some initial attempts at building a telemed prototype, Dr. Uttley brought the challenging project to Nottingham Spirk.
The Medical Device Design Challenges
Our medical device designers and engineers quickly identified the first challenge: weight. To be truly transportable, the mobile medical cart would have to be light enough to be lifted by most adults. When an early model weighed in at 75 pounds, the team decided to redesign the telemedicine cart as two pieces. Nottingham Spirk associates with young children brought in their strollers, so the team could study how they collapse and reset. They then built an all-clear, plexiglass version of the new medical product innovation, to see how the internal moving parts would work together during assembly and disassembly.
With a feasible design in the works, the engineers focused on the considerable electronic demands, including high-quality video and sound, so that doctor and patient could see and hear each other clearly: ports for a laptop and printer, WiFi capability, and a lightweight but long-lasting battery (this required numerous power-consumption studies). Prototypes were tested by medical professionals in various locations, and their feedback led to numerous refinements.
The Medical Product Innovation’s Recognition & Results
Dr. Uttley’s company introduced the Huntingdon Telemed cart at the American Telemedicine Association EDGE Conference, where the most common remark was, “I’ve never seen anything like this!” The medical trolley is currently in use within a rural county health system in Florida, providing valuable feedback. The target markets for the initial launch are skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, and there’s been interest from a wide variety of other sectors which will be considered for their long-term approach.
“Nottingham Spirk was very easy to work with,” says Christy Sendra, Huntingdon’s Director of Operations. “They could take our ideas and expand on them and that was incredibly helpful. We had a vision, but Nottingham Spirk had the skill set to bring it to life.”