Faith Alexander lifts developer Keith Alexander with the Kera Transfer Aid.

New patient hoist wins aged care tech challenge

A new patient hoist that enables a single helper to pick up and move someone with mobility issues has won the Best Aged Care Solution category at the inaugural HealthTech Supernode Challenge, sponsored by Ryman Healthcare.

Christchurch company HT Systems developed the Kera Transfer Aid, as the device is called. One of the challenge judges, Rick Davies, Ryman Healthcare’s head of technology and innovation, says it has the potential to help “the many thousands of New Zealanders that have difficulties with mobility”.

HT Systems’ Richard Shepherd says the idea for a mobility system had been around for some time, with the concept devised by HT Systems’ director and technical guru Keith Alexander (also the inventor of the Springfree trampoline for children and a professor at the University of Canterbury).

“What happened was about 20 years ago some surgeons at Burwood Hospital actually approached the university and said ‘we’ve got a problem, all our nurses are getting injured, lifting people around. So Keith came up with some concepts, worked it around and in January 2018 we [HT Systems] picked it up and ran with it.

“Essentially the product is designed to make the carer’s job easier, with the person that’s being moved being held in the machine securely and comfortably,” Richard says. “The patient lift and transfer mechanism could reduce the number of carers needed to move someone with limited mobility to just one.”

Rick says Ryman Healthcare is looking forward to exploring opportunities to work alongside the successful innovators from the Healthtech Supernode Challenge, such as HT Systems. Ryman was a keen sponsor of the project.

“It’s been a huge effort by all involved in the competition. They’ve proven what tremendous potential there is to harness technology to improve the lives of older people, and it has been an absolute privilege to be involved,” Rick says.

Other category winners included teams behind an insulin treatment pump, and an implantable sensor system for mending during spinal fusion.

Richard McCulloch​ from NextStep was crowned the Best Startup Team and overall winner of the challenge with a ventilation and resuscitator system for newborns.

The other judges were microbiologist and media commentator Dr Siouxsie Wiles and Ministry of Health Chief Science Advisor Ian Town.

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