Design and Commercialization of a Medical Ultrasound Calibration Phantom for Rivanna Medical; Giving Vaccines a Technology Boost: How Can Technological Innovation Improve Vaccination Uptake?

Marchibroda, Jennifer, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Rogers, Hannah, University of Virginia
Barker, Shannon, EN-Biomed Engr Dept, University of Virginia

My technical work and STS research emphasize that technology can be used to improve and transform healthcare by reducing human and medical errors, improving clinical outcomes and medical care, lowering health care costs, and thereby, leading to more affordable health care overall. We are moving into an era where healthcare providers can see patients remotely and accurately diagnose health problems in their patients’, even in the most rural areas, through telehealth and telemedicine. Although the healthcare industry has grown greatly throughout the years and much of that change has been driven by technological advancements, it is clear that this is only the beginning of what is in store for technology in health and healthcare.
Biomedical Equipment Technicians (BMETs) have a role and responsibility in ensuring that ultrasound medical equipment is well-maintained, configured and operated correctly, and safely functional. For my technical work, my Capstone team and I collaborated with Rivanna Medical to design a multi-tissue, multi-purpose calibration phantom that BMETs can use to test the quality of ultrasound imaging systems. Our phantom prototype leverages existing mass manufacturing capabilities and tooling methods offered within the electronics industry to produce a more cost-effective phantom that will be readily available and affordable for all healthcare professionals, including technicians and manufacturers. Our affordable calibration phantom on the market will improve efficacy in under-resourced healthcare facilities and increase availability specifically to rural healthcare centers, thereby improving the quality of healthcare provided to the patients and leading to increased patient satisfaction.
My STS research assesses how stakeholders can leverage the use of medical devices and other digital health technology tools to improve the uptake and access of vaccination. Given the speed at which technology changes and improves over time, exploring innovative approaches and leveraging technology aimed at improving access to vaccination and increasing vaccine uptake remains essential. Historical case studies and policy analysis methodologies were used to analyze the stakeholders involved in the decision-making process as well as the relationships between different groups involved in the discussion and creation of technology in the healthcare environment. These methodologies were also utilized to provide background on the importance of vaccination and the laws that are currently in place today surrounding mandating vaccinations.
Through working on both my STS research and technical Capstone projects, I have gained a deeper understanding of the important role of stakeholders in the healthcare system, particularly in the context of immunization, and the significance of stakeholder engagement. Both projects have provided me with greater awareness on the importance of reducing vaccine-preventable diseases by increasing vaccination rates and reducing ethnic and racial disparities. Especially given how the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a dramatic acceleration in digital health in particular, the power of digital health and health technology have the capability to facilitate a more widely distributed model of vaccine delivery that can reach minority and underserved populations in the years to come.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Vaccines, Medical Devices, Technological Innovation

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Technical Advisors: Shannon Barker and Adam Dixon
STS Advisor: Hannah Rogers
Technical Team Members: Helen Anton, Alexis Porco, Nicole White

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