Taitokeskus – a healthcare testbed with realistic hospital environment and patient simulators21.5.2021
There are several health technology testbeds in the Tampere Region, and they make the region a perfect location for R&D and innovation. Taitokeskus is one of them, a place for learning and training. It also an excellent testbed for any medtech company that requires feedback from simulated hospital activities. Tampere-based Injeq chose Taitokeskus to test its innovative spinal needle scheduled to be on the market in 2021.
Taitokeskus (Tampere Centre for Skills Training and Simulation) is a facility where medical and healthcare students work on their practical skills – from the very first week of their studies until graduation. As professionals they may return, either to learn more or teach future generations. This sums up as 2300 students and 2000 professionals training in Taitokeskus every year.
The centre is owned by Tampere University, Tampere University of Applied Sciences and Pirkanmaa Hospital District. In Taitokeskus there are rooms for basic skills training and simulation rooms that mimic real-life hospital units. All the devices, systems and tasks are real, but the patients are actually patient simulators with lifelike features.
– Our students and professionals can safely repeat procedures as many times as is necessary. Of course, a patient simulator is not exactly the same as a human patient. Still, learning by doing is still more efficient than just reading about a procedure or watching someone else do it, says Nina Hutri-Kähönen, Executive Director of Taitokeskus.
Learning is the main focus of Taitokeskus. It also has a great potential as a testbed for all kinds of medtech solutions, precisely because the centre has a large and multidisciplinary user base and procedures can be safely repeated again and again.
Collaboration with Injeq
Test situations are readily available in the everyday curriculum of Taitokeskus. The utilization rate of the facility is high to begin with, circa 90%.
So, when medical students train neonatal lumbar puncture in their clinical pediatrics course, it is quite simple to bring in an innovative smart needle and use it beside the traditional one. This is just what medtech company Injeq decided to do. They will get more repetitions in Taitokeskus than they could get in clinical trials.
– Though the patients here are simulators, we appreciate any feedback we get. We are especially looking forward to learn about the usability of our needle system. Lumbar puncture is not a routine task for students, so we also expect out-of-the-box thinking in their opinions, says Maarit Forstén, Clinical Application Specialist at Injeq.
Injeq is a Tampere-based company, and it has been developing the IQ-Tip® needle system since 2010. The clinical assessment of the smart spinal needle is already approved, and its CE marking is expected soon. Market entry will start from Europe, going global after that.
The smart needle employs real-time bioimpedance spectroscopy for tissue detection. It can tell the user when the needle tip reaches cerebrospinal fluid. This can facilitate challenging lumbar punctures, particularly in neonates and pediatric leukemia patients.
– Injeq is a growing company, especially at the moment. We are excited to place the smart spinal needle on the market, but also looking for other applications for our technology, says Forstén.
What can be tested in Taitokeskus?
Any device or software used in healthcare can be tested in Taitokeskus. For IT systems and software testing the centre provides an exceptionally interesting environment: a small-scale hospital with anonymous real-life cases and interprofessional learner teams.
– We can simulate an entire clinical pathway, for example from an ambulance to emergency room, operating room and so on. It can be tested and retested until everything works, says Hutri-Kähönen.
– There are a lot of companies that would certainly profit from collaboration with Taitokeskus. Startups have their technologies and ideas. Taitokeskus could provide the hospital environment, test users, feedback and maybe even some fresh ideas, says Forstén.
Taitokeskus is open to all kinds of testing projects. Most suitable ones are those that provide win-win results for all parties. Learners learn and are allowed to try the latest technology, companies get their ideas tested, everybody gets to know each other a little better.
Plans for collaboration in the future
Testing the spinal needle is the first collaboration between Taitokeskus and Injeq, and certainly not the last one. Hutri-Kähönen and Forstén say that every time they meet and talk, they’ll recognise more opportunities – not only for the future collaborations between Taitokeskus and Injeq, but also for the entire health technology ecosystem. Taitokeskus might easily be one of the places that brings medical device industry and healthcare sector together.
– Taitokeskus has the potential to be a collaboration platform for medtech and healthcare companies and other partners, as well as a centre for need-based development, says Hutri-Kähönen.
– So companies could come here and test their ideas against the real-life needs in any phase of their R&D process, agrees Forstén.
Tampere – a perfect location for R&D and innovation
There are several health technology testbeds in the Tampere Region. For companies, the Tampere Health Testbed ecosystem provides a fast track to the state-of-the-art research facilities.
– We offer these research facilities as testbeds or as facilities for contract research and collaboration, as well as for preclinical and clinical tests. By working with these testbeds, the companies ensure their products meet the user needs more effectively and the duration of the product development phase is shortened, says Tampere Health Business Coordinator Vân Lê of Business Tampere.
The testbed services are targeted to companies from all stages. It is possible to get a separate offer to use one of the testbeds or several of them combined and tailored to the company's needs. The experts can also apply for funding together with the companies if needed.
Learn more about Tampere Health and its partners at tamperehealth.com.
Author: Päivi Stenroos