Top 10 innovations transforming healthcare revealed during Expo 2020 Dubai’s Health & Wellness Week

From early dementia screening to 3D-printed organs, Expo 2020 Dubai is shining a light on some of the latest innovations set to revolutionise healthcare around the globe.

Expo 2020 Dubai’s recent Health and Wellness Week brought together key stakeholders to discuss the relationship between mental and physical wellness, the importance of access to quality healthcare and the expanding role of technology in improving the overall health of societies. It included the following innovations:

Preventing lower limb amputations in diabetics

Diabetes is the second-highest cause of amputations worldwide, with millions affected every year by a lack of sensibility in feet and circulatory problems. Argentina-based Ebers Med has designed smart insoles, complete with pressure, temperature and humidity sensors, which act as an early warning system, monitoring and alerting any anomalies to patients and doctors earlier than current technology.

Early, fast and affordable dementia screening

A portable, affordable, accurate, and non-invasive electroencephalography (EEG) device from Malta-based BrainTrip uses a sophisticated and automated analysis process to identify the characteristic changes that dementia causes in patients’ brainwaves. The process is quick, simple and painless, and can be scaled to cover the entire planet. BrainTrip is supported by Expo Live, Expo’s programme to accelerate and promote creative solutions that improve lives.

Mobile emergency patient wards

Created in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), Continest’s flatpack emergency medical wards are a boon to remote, rural areas in times of unexpected medical crises, as experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Where the wards were needed in Soroti, Uganda, they were transported from Mombasa, Kenya and set up in under two days, by only five people. Flat-packed and assembled on delivery, they save 80 per cent of the cost of storage and transportation, as well as 80 per cent of the CO2 emissions. The Continest mobile emergency patient ward is currently being manufactured in Jebel Ali, Dubai.

Smartphone-backed cancer screenings for remote areas

Cameroon-based GICMED aims to reduce breast and cervical cancer death rates in underserved communities that generally lack access to cancer care services. Another Expo Live global innovator, its innovative tele-medicine platform and smartphone digital microscopy system enables women living even in the most remote areas to get screened and diagnosed at the point of care by medical specialists that are present only in a few big cities.

AI-backed disease screening in under two hours

Inspired by Japan’s high survival rate for cancers due to early detection, Fujifilm’s AI system, Nura, provides patients with a full screening for cancers and lifestyle diseases (such as diabetes and heart disease) in just 120 minutes, using ultra-low dose radiation so as not to endanger healthy patients. Readings are provided by AI, to ensure quick analysis and low human resources costs, but patients discuss their results in a consultation with a human doctor. Fujifilm has already launched Nura in Bangalore, and is eyeing its next move into Dubai. This innovation could be a game-changer, potentially leading to fast and accurate automated detection centres.

Giving a voice to those who cannot speak

The founders of OTTAA aim to give a voice back to those who have lost it. Describing themselves as an alternative augmentative communication system, they facilitate communication through the use of pictures, representing feelings, actions, emotions and things. A user can choose these in a number of ways, such as touch, scroll and head movements. The Argentinian developers can customise the programme, making everyday tasks that might previously have been a challenge become a possibility. The system is currently available in eight languages, with a goal to add more and to adapt the programme to align with a range of cultures.

Helping children develop speech skills

Health Lab was created by a Latvian speech therapist to help young children who are struggling to pronounce certain sounds. Created as a computer game, it captures the attention and imagination of the child in a way that toys and games are sometimes unable to do. The programme allows the child to interact with technology, and to carry out sessions remotely. Health Lab is now looking to connect with therapists across the world to expand the range of languages available.

3D printed organs

Following the successful implantation of 3D-printed bladders in the US, Axial3D could leverage these advances in the future to eliminate the need for organ donation. The 3D print will help doctors explain conditions to their patients and help surgeons understand the treatment in full. Patients will also spend less time in theatre, and the risk of blood loss and infection will be reduced.

Voice data to detect onset of Alzheimer’s
Digital health futurist Maneesh Juneja suggested that algorithms could feasibly be built into existing smart home technology to take on and analyse our voice data to detect the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, which include difficulty in remembering vocabulary, causing longer pauses between words, increased hesitation, and changes in grammar, such as favouring pronouns over nouns. 

In-bed shower for patients with limited mobility

Hospitalised patients unable to leave their beds to address their hygiene needs have been offered a breakthrough solution thanks to Korean company HanMaek Medical Co Ltd. CCQ’s Bed Shower Carrier allows hospital and care-home patients to have a full shower without the distress of trying to move. Having provided Bed Shower Carriers across the Republic of Korea, the next stage is to offer them to hospitals across the GCC, and as a private rental service.