3D printing in healthcare

It’s been around since 1984, but only now are people starting to pay attention to 3D printing, particularly as it pertains to healthcare – and we’re not just talking dental. Although they’re still expensive, 3D, or Additive Manufacturing, solutions are slowly starting to being more reasonable, as they cement their place in the medical technology market in a shift that Harvard Business Review says “has the potential to disrupt the alarming trajectory of rising health care costs at exactly the moment when aging Baby Boomers will be putting more pressure on the health care system.”

It’s not just parts like bones and cartilage that are being used, airway splints and skin are in production, too.

Precise, quick to produce with minimal waste (and no waste removal required) and soon, cost effective, with no room for human error, 3D printing is set to revolutionise the healthcare industry.

You’re probably thinking that this is nothing new, that you’ve heard it all before. So, let’s look ahead.

  • Princeton University are in the research phases with the production of a 3D-printed bionic ear that surpasses human capabilities.
  • 3D-printed ankle replacements, casts and pills are In use and accelerating recovery and release rates exponentially.
  • Researchers are relishing in the discovery that biodegradable implants have the ability to more efficiently cure bone infections and cancers.
  • Stems cells are being printed in a lab, and tested as an alternative method for creating tissue and testing drugs, or growing replacement organs.
  • Perhaps the biggest benefit of cybernetics lies in the potential to cut down donor lists by printing in-demand organs like kidneys, livers and lungs.

Can we grow organs instead of transplanting them?

 

Image via HBR.org https://hbr.org/2016/03/3d-printing-is-already-changing-health-care

Locally, the Central University of Technology (CUT), was acknowledged for their work in advancing the use of 3D printing in healthcare way back in 2015, having conducted 12 real-patient medical procedures. Two of the procedures included 3D printed titanium implants.

Digitisation of HR and job finding

Supporting company growth, HR professionals are increasingly being faced with the reality that digitisation is imperative for development. Given the pressure to find, and nurture, good talent, and the ever-changing requirements to create job satisfaction, being connected to vast pools of talent and integrally plugged in to employee engagement are, arguably, the only solutions.

Workday describes the CHRO job title as evolving into that of Chief People Officer or Chief Employee Experience Officer, quoting the KPMG Global CEO outlook survey:

“In this context, CEOs need to understand that business transformation requires more than innovation and technology. It means embracing continuous change from the inside of the organization as well as great flexibility.”

Bringing the HR function from supportive to, now, fundamental to business functioning, this new breed of HR professional must guide their colleagues to help them better understand their employees, the cogs that keep the wheels of organisations turning. This employee experience, which includes democratising data at all levels and unifying applications to better link insights to actions—is vital to the long-term health of any business.

How do they do it? Each company has their own way of plugging in to the people that make up their team, but new software is making that job a whole lot easier.

Leading the charge is ‘people analytics’ software company CultureAmp who announced in October 2016 that they had secured $10 million in Series B funding from Index Ventures.

“Having seen first-hand the positive impact of their data-driven approach at Dropbox, as well as their phenomenal growth among leading retail, hospitality, media and professional services clients, I am excited to be an investor and see Culture Amp’s impact on employee happiness,” said Index Ventures partner Ilya Fushman, in a statement.

VR and AR: more accessible than ever

It’s no secret that companies like Facebook are constantly pushing the boundaries of what we thought possible. While they marvel at the possibilities, overwhelmed by ideas, content producers and app developers often stumble over implementation and the actual creation of VR and AR content. Whilst the inclusion of this technology into content strategies is a hot topic, it may still be a way off. Real thought and relentless testing need to go into the experience that the user will have.

Facebook have started making the incorporation of experiences into app development a reality. At their 2017 F8 Developers Conference, their all new Augmented Reality APIs were centre stage. What does this mean? VR content is going to be easier to create and, therefore, more likely to start being adopted and adapted by more and more companies. “The future is delicious,” said Zuck as he demonstrated the new AR capabilities, laying a floor of Skittles onto a picture as he effortlessly transformed it from 2D to 3D.

Intergr8 & Autom8, the local agents for Daqri, are helping bridge the gap between global technology advancements and local availability. “Being based in South Africa means we’re able to talk about clients AR and VR needs at a local level to provide solutions they need, rather than forcing creative content to be shaped by the technology available,” said Mark Dilchert.

Situated just around the corner from the IoT.nxt office, architectural firm B+P have long since identified the potential of VR as soon as Google Cardboard was announced and have, subsequently, received many strange requests for VR over the years.

Having been through the ordeal of ensuring they have the hardware to support their development, B+P now develop for all VR headsets.

“We understand that VR is not just simply a screen that you wear on your head, it is a completely new way for humans and computers to interact. This is one of the most important things for us to keep in mind during the development process. Otherwise it is very tempting to go down a route that is familiar (Think of UI interaction for example) instead of trying something new that is actually better. We built over 20 different interaction models before we were able to hone it down to something that is natural and intuitive. Another thing that helps us is the ability to test our interaction models on our colleagues while we observe them, almost on a daily basis,” said B+Ps VR Co-Ordinator.

Adamant from the beginning that they would only implement VR in places where it could actually improve processes, they quickly overcame the problem of hardware. “We have access to all of the same hardware and software as all other VR developers around the world. If the software that is available does not suit our needs, we write our own, rather than trying to force the workflow into the software. This can take a bit longer, but the result is worth it. If we need hardware that is not available we build it or 3D-print it.”

The key to maintaining a cutting-edge product is using bleeding edge development that constantly updates repositories and patches as fixes are released. Having a team that communicates rapid changes, bugs and improvements, helps in this case

Digitisation, from the C-Suite down

Gone are the days of data sitting only in the hands of IT departments. Now, you’ll find all departments relying on, and using, some stream of data. It’s not enough for small departments to use fragments of data in isolation. For businesses to realise the true benefit of full digitalisation, a strategy needs to be pieced together, rolled out and driven from the top down by the C-Suite. Digitalisation must be accompanied by two things in order to be successful – education to ensure all employees are capable and confident, to ensure that they embrace change, and a strong example being set by management.

“Employees want to work for digital leaders. Across age groups from 22 to 60, the vast majority of respondents want to work for digitally enabled organizations.”- MIT Sloan

IoT, Cloud, Digital Supply Chain and Machine Learning in combination

They’re undeniably buzzwords, with companies scrambling to implement IoT, Cloud solutions, Digital Supply Chain Management and Machine Learning as part of digitisation strategies, but the key to unlocking their true potential is using them together. It’s no longer a question of adopting IoT. The 4th industrial revolution is here, what comes next?

“In isolation, each of these offers different benefits – cost advantages with cloud, precision in operations with IoT, agility with digital supply chain. In combination, however, they could end up obsoleting much of the boxes-and-materials supply chain everybody else is still stuck with. Pioneers such as Verizon, Microsoft, Tesla and Google are increasingly connecting these four technologies to offer customers instantaneous, personalized content or software capabilities on devices they already have. Notice the big lead in enthusiasm for machine learning among hi-tech companies. This reflects an understanding of how activity on this virtual fulfillment system provides training datasets for artificial intelligence to develop.” – Forbes

Nico Steyn, CEO of IoT.nxt, says, “We see the SA market as more than ready and, in fact, rapidly executing their digital strategies. Certain sectors need to exponentially evolve their business model to remain relevant and digitisation is at the forefront of this transformation. In the last 24 months, we have seen ideas and concepts crystalising into real implementations delivering transformative organisational value in businesses. South Africans have always been malleable and innovation is part of our DNA. As a business today, failure to move or vacillate on digital adoption is done so perilously as disruption to your business model is a business quarter away.”

“From the start we realised that IoT technology only unlocks real value when it delivers subsystem interoperability. IoT is the foundational underpin to digitisation and the enabler of Big Data. Moving forward, we see the next phase of IoT innovation migrating intelligence further down the stack closer to the edge, changing how quickly clients can implement operational changes based on those insights.”