The UC Davis Point-of-Care Technologies Center plans to collaborate with RTI International, an independent, nonprofit research institute based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, to ensure the accuracy and efficacy of point-of-care (POC) technologies used in emergency and disaster settings.
The collaboration combines UC Davis's award-winning research in environmental testing and RTI's expertise in best-in-class thermoelectric technologies to create innovative solutions for ensuring the accuracy and efficacy of POC technology.
POC is defined as medical testing at or near the site of patient care. First responders employ POC at disasters and emergencies to improve outcomes using evidence-based triage, diagnosis and monitoring of patients and victims. Some of this current technology includes cardiac and glucose monitors, diagnostic imaging devices and units for assessing blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and temperature, Although POC's portable design is useful for field applications, other refinements are needed to maximize the potential of these devices in disaster settings.
"Many devices currently used by first-responder teams cannot withstand the austere environmental conditions that are often present at disaster sites," said Gerald Kost, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at UC Davis School of Medicine and director of the UC Davis Point-of-Care Technologies Center. "Environmental factors, such as extremes of temperature and humidity, can affect the accuracy of results and lead to clinical misinterpretations. Our goal is to find innovative and reliable solutions to overcome these challenges and develop new technologies to protect POC supplies."
UC Davis researchers have extensive experience in understanding the effect of environmental stresses on POC supplies. Previous testing of POC devices conducted in field simulations in the UC Davis laboratory have shown that glucose monitors, hand-held blood chemistry analyzers and other classes of devices give false readings or fail to respond under extremely low and high temperatures and other conditions.
The collaboration with RTI International, a leading developer of advanced thermoelectric technology with expertise to reduce the vulnerability of medical supplies in field settings, aims to address these concerns. The research of Rama Venkatasubramanian, senior research director at the Center for Solid State Energetics at RTI International, is of particular interest to UC Davis researchers.
Venkatasubramanian and his team have designed a first-generation thermoelectric portable container to monitor and protect vaccines, insulin and other medical items from exposure to extreme temperatures. These first-generation devices are being developed further for field-testing and validation, and RTI International has a technology partner that can potentially manufacture large volumes of portable thermoelectric containers.