GIANT steps for renal technologies hailed at 2022 conference

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Rajesh Sivaprakasam

Renal failure surgeon Rajesh Sivaprakasam (Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK) was among several clinicians and industry speakers who recently vaunted a variety of new technologies in the renal space at the Global Innovation and New Technology (GIANT) summit (6–7 November, London, UK) for 2022. Exploring breakthroughs in both surgery and remote patient monitoring, the conference’s Future Hospital program of debates and presentations offered a glimpse at the future of patient care. 

Wearables were discussed in a morning discussion on non-invasive, remote monitoring technology. Alio’s SmartPatch device, wearable technology that monitors the vitals, blood pressure and other biomarkers of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) patients, chaired by Sivaprakasam with the CEO and co-founder of Alio, David Kuraguntla. Ken Callahan of the Hargan Group, former Senior Official at the US Department of Health and Human Services, and Deborah Duval, managing editor of Kidney Care UK, were also present, as was lead nurse for dialysis at Barts Health, Joanna Dapatnapo (Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK). 

Dapatnapo opined that “we need remote, dynamic and non-invasive tools” such as the SmartPatch for monitoring the condition of haemodialysis patients. “Currently, dialysis patients require a blood test to confirm the adequacy of their access, requiring the puncture of the fistula three times a week.” She said remote monitoring technology would relieve them of this need.  

Callahan, meanwhile, outlined how KidneyX, a major partnership between the US Department of Health and kidney organisations, was assigning $100 million to those innovating in kidney care. Alio, who received a $1 million grant, also brought in $18 million in its recent Series C funding round, and Kuraguntla stated that its SmartPatch would enable CKD patients of lower socio-economic status to be monitored with more attention than existing smartphone-based solutions. They expressed confidence, however, that it could benefit all CKD patients.

Sivaprakasam also participated in a lively panel discussion with Iain Hennessey (Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool, UK) chaired by Shafi Ahmed (Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK) on the prospects for surgery presented by developing technologies, as well as the existing issues with surgery in the National Health Service (NHS) they may help to solve. Sivaprakasam argued that the NHS was currently failing to fully adopt technologies that would make surgery more efficient. Allowing students to learn to perform surgeries using VR simulation, for example, would make them “better prepared”, which would improve patient outcomes. Hennessey, meanwhile, suggested that procedures were not optimally assigned in the health service, arguing that “you have highly trained people doing very basic tasks.”

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