Development of a Reliable Drive System for Medical Ultrasound Imaging; Establishing Health Equity in the United States

Trivedi, Shipra, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Baritaud, Catherine, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Barker, Shannon, EN-Biomed Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Allen, Timothy, EN-Biomed Engr Dept, University of Virginia

The accessibility of routine healthcare is an important area of improvement in the United States. The technical project, with team members Sarah Abourakty, Sarah Ames, Aarthee Baskaran, and Shipra Trivedi, aims to address accessibility from a research and development perspective by assisting in the development of a novel middle ground medical device. In developing this medical device, the technical project addresses the problems surrounding access to routine healthcare from an engineering standpoint. The science, technology, and society (STS) research aims to address accessibility from a sociological and policy standpoint. It uses research into existing and emerging policies and a sociotechnical framework to determine if there is a baseline standard in the United States that can mitigate existing disparities to proper healthcare access. The technical and STS research projects are tightly coupled in their efforts to address accessibility of routine healthcare from two diverging standpoints.
The technical research report describes the development of a reliable drive system for Rivanna Medical, LLC’s upcoming medical ultrasound imaging device to assist in epidural injections, which are common treatments for patients with chronic pain or injuries resulting in spinal tissue damage. Physicians perform epidural injections using either no imaging guidance, which can result in inaccuracy and patient discomfort, or with advanced imaging technologies that are expensive and inaccessible. The technical report outlines a drive system for a device that can assist epidural injections in a more accessible manner, as it is semi-handheld and includes a robust algorithm to detect the epidural space in real time. The technical team members conducted reliability testing and developed subsystems using Arduino, CAD, motor control systems, and quality assurance research.
The technical team members developed a proof-of-concept for a flex management system for the existing prototype and conducted reliability testing in different orientations that reflect how the device would be used in practice. In measuring resistances within the flex after testing, the research shows consistent results with previous testing iterations, and it ensures the product’s reliability for approximately 30,000 cycles. The team also hardwired a circuit to control a brushless DC motor and tested its efficacy against an existing motor driver. The technical research also involved developing testing protocols to assess force and noise levels generated by the device. The results show consistent force and noise levels with previous testing iterations. The technical works demonstrates the efficacy of the device, thus ensuring quality performance once the device is deployed.
The sociotechnical research takes a policy approach towards issues with access to healthcare to evaluate if there is a standard to promote health equity in the United States. The research shows the efficacy of various policies that take a more socially conscious approach to healthcare. Additionally, the research implemented Law, Callon, And Latour’s Actor Network Theory within the healthcare context to evaluate the relationships involved in implemented any policy changes.
Disparities in access to routine healthcare reflect a sociological problem and the previous polices and practices that hyper-segregate neighborhoods and establish physical barriers for specific groups that prevent them from receiving quality healthcare. The current presidential administration aims to address healthcare using this context, and has promised to look at intersectoral approaches to health equity, as well as traditional endeavors, such as drug price reforms. Value-based care is an emerging healthcare model that holds physicians more accountable for patients’ experiences, and often requires screening for social needs to ensure more holistic treatement. National implementation of such models could promote community-based health, which can standardize access to care without generalizing the needs of one social group to the needs of others.
The technical and sociotechnical research attempt to address access to routine healthcare in the United States. The technical research describes efforts to conduct reliability testing on a device that is made to increase the accessibility of guided epidural injections. The sociotechnical research describes potential policy approaches that can standardize access to quality healthcare.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Ultrasound, Testing, Actor-Network Theory, Health Equity

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Shannon Barker
STS Advisor: Catherine Baritaud
Technical Team Members: Sarah Abourakty, Sarah Ames, Aarthee Baskaran

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