WASHINGTON — Fears about coronavirus have many parents reluctant to leave the safety of home for a pediatricians office if their child is only mildly ill.
Ear infections are the most common reason kids end up at the doctor’s office, according to The National Institutes of Health.
"We’ve talked to a lot of parents who have recurring ear infections and this is their worst nightmare right now," said Doctor Therese Canares, a pediatric emergency doctor with Johns Hopkins
Dr. Canares and otolaryngologist James Clark co-founded a new device that will help kids without them having to leave the house.
"This (invention) is an otoscope. So the tool that looks inside your ear," said Dr Canares. "It uses artificial intelligence to determine if there's an ear infection."
The OtoPhoto, bluetooth-equipped otoscope can send images to a pediatrician, who would then be able to create a treatment plan through an online visit.
"I think before the pandemic no one was interested in doing a ZOOM medical visit. And now its becoming the norm," said Dr Canares.
There are no details about when the device will be widely available, but the pair got a $300,000 grant from the Leon Lowenstein Foundation to further develop it.
The grant came from a competition titled "Make Your Medical Device Pitch for Kids!” special COVID-19 edition, hosted by Children’s National Hospital. Dr. Canares and Dr. Clark were one of the winners.
"One of the silver linings, if there are any in this pandemic, was that it really created a necessity for all of us to come up with novel ideas," said Dr Kolaleh Eskandanian, Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer for Children’s National Hospital.
Awards for innovative child medical technology are crucial according to Dr Eskandanian because she says medical devices for kids generally lag about ten years behind those created for adults.
"The pediatric market is too small so it all boils down to financials," said Dr Eskandanian. "(The competition) really created an opportunity to collaborate across disciplines."
Winners of the competition will share $250,000 in grants. Those awarded include:
- Bloom Standard (Kaaria), Hong Kong, China - $20,000 awarded - wearable, AI-driven ultrasound for infant cardiac and pulmonary screening and diagnostics
- Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – $20,000 awarded - transparent reusable DIY origami facemask that reveals facial expressions & improves communication
- Hopscotch, Ithaca, New York - $20,000 awarded - gamified cognitive behavioral therapy-based computer exercises to encourage kids to stay engaged and complete treatment programs
- Medipines, Yorba Linda, California - $50,000 awarded - monitor device that displays critical respiratory parameters analyzed from a patient's breathing sample
- OtoPhoto, Baltimore, Maryland - $20,000 awarded - a smart otoscope that quickly and accurately aids diagnosis of ear infections for home telehealth use
- TGV-Dx, New York, New York -$50,000 awarded - a novel, phenotype-based test system for rapid selection of effective antibiotic regimen
- Vitls, Houston, Texas - $50,000 awarded - wearable platform for remote patient monitoring of the vitals clinicians require to assess a patient
- X-Biomedical, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - $20,000 awarded - rugged, portable smart ICU ventilator for pediatric and adult patients
You can see the competition pitches HERE.