Finalist 2021

KUTITJI Mobile Isolation Unit

Health Forge / Purple House

KUTITJI Mobile Isolation Units reduce hospital acquired infections by controlling transmissions of COVID-19 and other airborne diseases.

Health Forge has developed the KUTITJI Mobile Isolation Unit for mass deployment of patient isolation to reduce airborne infections acquired in hospitals and aged care facilities.

KUTITJI is a more effective and reliable method of controlling airborne Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) in comparison to health PPE, such as face masks, and building ventilation systems.

This new medical device helps address a worldwide shortage of isolation spaces in healthcare by providing a more flexible and scalable patient isolation solution, at one twentieth of the cost compared to in-situ isolation rooms.

KUTITJI is a game changer for controlling airborne HAIs.

Design Brief

Health Forge was approached by clinicians in Australia’s outback to reduce the high rate of airborne HAIs - https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/healthcare-worker-covid-19-data

The hierarchy of protection controls position PPE as the least efficient method of preventing airborne transmissions of infections between an infected person and healthcare workers and yet PPE is used as a primary line of defence. Airborne pathogens can also be spread via building ventilation systems to other areas of facilities.

The design brief:
Develop a patient isolation device for dialysis chairs that removes harmful pathogens (such as COVID-19) before they can be transmitted to other workers and patients.

Health Forge exceeded the design brief by including use with beds and making the device a compact mobile unit.

Expected outcomes:

  • Flexible deployment in any healthcare facility, anywhere
  • Reduction of airborne infections
  • Reduced capital and operating expense
  • Fit for purpose design and compliant to regulatory standards
  • Reduced burden on healthcare systems

This project was developed by:

Design Process

In September 2020, Health Forge was assigned to develop a mobile isolation unit that improves on the concepts that could be found in the global marketplace.

Existing isolation solutions in healthcare include isolation capsules for portable stretchers, in-situ isolation rooms and marque tents. Prior to KUTITJI there were no commercial solutions for beds and chairs with examples limited to rudimentary pram hoods and makeshift Perspex boxes.

The initial design brief asked for an isolation solution for a patient on a dialysis chair that could withstand Australia’s harsh outback conditions and serve indigenous communities where aboriginal people require dialysis treatment.

Health Forge have exceeded this design brief and in doing so, achieved a world first and addressed a global gap in mobile isolation for beds and chairs.

The KUTITJI also exceeds the design brief beyond use for Australian outback communities, and into potential Asian, European and US markets. KUTJTI is suitable for underdeveloped nations where significant health impacts can be achieved in controlling COVID-19 transmissions.

Health Forge collaborated with healthcare experts to understand the problem space, identify user needs, pain points, analyse market equivalents and implement regulatory compliance. The team worked with researchers at Curtain University Perth, Alice Springs Hospital, Northern Hospital in Epping and the Northern Territory Purple House indigenous dialysis organisation.

Design parameters included:

  • Health and safety improvements
  • Regulatory compliance/risk mitigation
  • Intuitive and safe usability
  • Critical component redundancy
  • Low total cost of ownership
  • Scalable manufacturing efficiencies

Design inputs included:

  • Usability and safety
  • Patient comfort/safety
  • Accessing patients whilst in use
  • Setup, pack down, cleaning
  • Mobility, service, storage
  • Packaging, logistics

The design process produced initial assumptions and concepts that were verified with user groups and validated via prototypes. Engineering CAD designs progressed through critical reviews to confirm all user needs were addressed.

Design Excellence

Health Forge champions the fundamental criteria for good design including a focus on, functionality, aesthetics, safety, quality and sustainability, as minimum requirements for any design activity.

For the KUTITJI project, Health Forge sought to exceed these fundamental criteria by implementing a User Centred Design process for every user group that interacts with the product, including: healthcare staff, patients, clinicians, maintenance technicians, cleaners and logistics personnel.

Development of the KUTITJI medical device used the following design rubric:

  • Market opportunity / problem space
  • User experience / needs and pain points
  • User safety and essential performance characteristics
  • Usability and operational efficiency
  • Risk analysis
  • Ergonomics and aesthetics
  • Manufacturing efficiencies

This approach led to the design process exceeding the criteria for good design in the following areas:

Holistic high quality – incorporating advanced manufacturing techniques, lightweight powder coated aluminium chassis and contemporary user interface technologies to achieve an ergonomic and intuitive user experience.

Fit for purpose – user needs of all persons who interact with the device have been uncompromisingly incorporated into the final design.

Safety – occupational health and safety and risk mitigation process according to ISO compliance standards were a design priority.

User experience – extensive user consultation ensures the design will: feel ‘at home’ in a healthcare environment and will meet expectations of functionality in an intuitive way.

Health Forge has set a new benchmark for design excellence in the category of Mobile Isolation Units for beds and chairs. The KUTITJI is a fit for purpose medical device designed to solve pain points across the product’s entire user value chain.

The final design offers an exceptional user experience in environmentally controlled buildings such as first-world hospitals and aged care buildings and can be used equally as well in underdeveloped nations where infrastructure is limited.

Design Innovation

For over a century, healthcare workers in hospital and aged care facilities have protected themselves from airborne infections by practicing physical distancing, patient isolation and wearing PPE such as face masks and gloves. These methods have seen no significant evolution since the Spanish Flu.

The KUTITJI design brings a world first innovation into a legitimate 100-year-old problem space by hybridising building ventilation and patient isolation into a compact mobile unit for beds and chairs that can be rapidly deployed in a multitude of scenarios:

  • Hospital wards
  • Quarantine
  • Palliative care
  • Residential aged/disability care*Dialysis treatment
  • Emergency departments
  • Oncology
  • Intensive Care Units

The user centred design focuses on the critical safety of healthcare staff who need a more effective airborne infection control solution to counter inefficiencies in PPE, building ventilation and unscalable in-situ isolation rooms.

KUTITJI offers 3 ground-breaking improvements to the infection control problem space:

  1. SAFETY: removes the risk of inter-room virus spread via building ventilation systems by immediately isolating and filtering up to 99.95% of harmful pathogens via HEPA filters before they can even enter a room.
  2. FLEXABILITY: deployable at scale in: hospital wards, ICU’s, small clinics, aged care facilities, cruise ships, remote mining sites and disaster relief zones – making them significantly more flexible and scalable than the limited supply of in-situ isolation rooms that can only handle one patient at a time.
  3. AFFORDABILITY: will be distributed for approximately one twentieth the cost of in-situ isolation rooms by utilising advanced manufacturing technology to create lightweight mobile aluminium chassis with precision actuators and ventilation system.

The design considers: low ceilings, narrow corridors and cramped wards. The automatic articulating canopy enables compact deployment in tight spaces. Full transparent curtains provide full two-way patient to staff visibility and minimises any feeling of claustrophobia for patients.

Design Impact

The KUTITJI infection control practice will create long-lasting positive impacts for the health and safety of workers and patients in healthcare environments.

The use of KUTITJI will create economic savings by minimising the financial burden that chronic infection can place on hospitals, individuals and healthcare systems.

Impact snapshot – KUTITJI can:

Health Forge adheres to the principles of a circular economy by designing out waste, minimising materials through advanced manufacturing design, using CAD nesting and utilising materials and components that can virtually all be recycled. In addition to this, all components of the KUTITJI are designed for modular replacement to eliminate unnecessary production.

The durable construction methodology plus careful component and material selection used for the KUTITJI maximises service life and minimises consumables and parts replacement.

Healthcare organisations can substitute or delay the need for expensive remedial works to antiquated building ventilation systems by using this cost efficient and effective solution.

The KUTITJI design:

  • is 100% designed and manufactured in Melbourne which creates local jobs and minimises the production’s carbon footprint.
  • builds Victoria’s reputation and status as a design culture leader by demonstrating the use of User Centred Design to solve a legitimate healthcare engineering problem; and
  • promotes Victoria as an agent of change for Australia, putting the State at the cutting edge of design in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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