3) In your first test missions, what mistakes did you catch or realize challenges to making the product work "in the field"?
Slavomír: During the testing of prototypes, we encountered several problems from our testers. We worried whether people would be able to work with the S-Case or if it would be too complicated to use. And some of our concerns were confirmed.
On the usage side, the sensors were not very "user friendly". For instance, the location of the thermometer sensor, located on the back of the device, was okay for medical staff, but in the hands of the patients themselves, this sensor was essentially unusable - the patient must enter the command to measure on the screen and at the same time have the sensor aimed at their own forehead.
Martin: Also, the blood pressure monitor can only measure flawlessly if the cuff is correctly positioned on the patient's shoulder. On the data side, exporting from the device is difficult for the average user at the current stage. Files are of different types and in several separate sheets and the patient data itself is subject to coding to preserve identity.
So through this testing, we found out a lot of useful information, which we are currently using to update and finetune the hardware, software application and platform. In May 2021, S-Case will be ready to roll out as we begin a pilot in North Macedonia with the first iteration of the final product.
4) You received funding to develop pilot projects in North Macedonia. How do they intend to roll it out?
Slavomír: We applied to and received a grant from UNDP’s Slovak Challenge Fund to test S-Case in North Macedonia, where we are now launching two pilot projects/partnerships. We wanted to test in a country with a higher standard of health care, and I had already been in touch with local innovators to build a cooperation.
The first is with a state-of-the-art clinic in Northern Macedonia that offers a wide range of medical services specializing in cardiac surgery, but also focuses on modern procedures and solutions to help prevent 21st century diseases. The Zan Mitrev Clinic will use S-Case to remotely monitor twenty patients with cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes.
The second collaboration will be with the Health Education and Research Association (HERA), founded by medical students to address the lack of education or care for HIV/AIDS patients in the country. These patients often do not even have access to basic medicine. The association currently provides free and confidential services in the areas of sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence, educates in the field of sexual rights & strengthens marginalized societies. Through S-Case, HERA will monitor pregnant as well as non-pregnant women and mothers, especially in socially disadvantaged families, through mobile teams consisting of a gynecologist, a nurse, a driver and community leaders.
Martin: Through these pilots, we can test the cooperation with partners and find out whether our S-Case solution will be beneficial and suitable for future mass use in North Macedonia. We are not yet able to pinpoint the initial and specific challenges we will face in the country. We did not test S-Case directly, either in the ZMC clinic or in remote parts of the country where HERA operates, this phase will come next in April next year.
5) So what are the next steps, and what is your goal with S-Case?
Right now, our biggest goal is the production of a fully functional and certified device. With S-Case, we plan to expand to middle- and low-income countries that are “under-regulated” and work with governments, community health workers or even private clinics.
We are currently starting with the monitoring of patients with cardiovascular diseases, but later we would like to move on to the monitoring of oncology patients, patients with respiratory diseases and the like. Our goal is also to set up headquarters and distributors within countries in this region to employ more people in the field of sales, maintenance and supply chains.