- Seek real-world insights when developing new technology
- Partner with organisations who can provide feedback and access to your target market
Lower back pain is one of the most common conditions experienced by patients. It's estimated to cost the Australian economy more than $9 billion each year in treatment costs and lost productivity. Frustratingly, doctors are often unable to pinpoint exactly what is causing the problem.
Austin Health was looking to develop a way of letting patients know when they were putting stress on their spine at work or home. This would help recovery and reduce the need to return to hospital or take sick leave.
Melbourne based technology company dorsaVi developed the ViMove, which consists of four small sensors that stick to a patient’s lower back, measuring movement of the back and muscle activity.
The information is relayed wirelessly to a device small enough to fit in the patient’s pocket. The device can hold the data and stream it live to a computer.
The input from clinicians was invaluable, says dorsaVi CEO Andrew Ronchi. 'We wanted to make the device programmable for individual patients, so we needed a lot of clinical input from Austin.'
Austin Health also provided access to patients with back pain so that clinical studies could be used to refine the technology and better suit the needs of different patients.
'Getting case studies from patients at Austin about what they liked and didn’t like was invaluable', says Ronchi. 'Before the project we could give very basic feedback to patients, but it wasn't 'intelligent' or customised to a patient's specific type of back pain'.
Making sure the device could be taken from the clinical setting into the home or workplace required its own innovation. 'It was important to be able to give patients immediate feedback. If they moved, we wanted it to appear on the computer screen in real time'.
Patients using ViMove are alerted by a series of beeps and buzzes to the positions and movements that are straining their back. They then correct their posture and adjust their activities to reduce strain and aid recovery.
Rob Laird, a specialist musculoskeletal physiotherapist at Austin Health and key collaborator says, 'For the first time we actually have a technology that can record demonstrated movement patterns and compare them before and after various interventions'. This gives physiotherapists great scope in assessing the effectiveness of therapy, and better guiding patients into good habits.
DorsaVIs wearable tech is featured in this video from A Current Affair.
Access to markets
Andrew Ronchi says, 'Now we're in the marketplace, selling devices to physiotherapists and doctors both in Australia and the UK. We've also been able to branch into other applications, all off the same platform technology.'
This project was funded under the Victorian Government's Market Validation Program (MVP). Get strategic planning help via the Grow Your Business grants program
dorsaVi worked with Austin Health to create and refine a wearable device that encourages better posture. The invaluable insights gained during their work together has enabled dorsaVi to sell their devices in Australia and the UK, and develop more technology based on the same platform.