Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Made in Pittsburgh: 5 Great Ideas

Modern-day creation in Pittsburgh doesn’t just involve physical products; we also have a knack for hatching new ideas that can solve problems in innovative, unexpected ways. These locally based thinkers are applying big thoughts to bigger problems.



(page 1 of 5)

Sanna Gaspard
Rubitection

The Idea: To solve a longstanding health-care dilemma with cutting-edge technology.



photos by Douglas Duerring


 

Pressure injuries — previously known as pressure ulcers and commonly referred to as bedsores — are a surprisingly common affliction. The painful and often serious condition develops through a lack of movement; when continuous pressure is put on an area of the skin over time (as can occur when someone is immobile in a hospital bed), bedsores develop at the point of pressure.

Pressure injuries affect more than 2.5 million adults each year in the United States; one study of their prevalence determined nearly 2 percent of all adults admitted to hospitals will develop a bedsore.

Yet the most common method for detecting pressure injuries — the industry standard, to date — can be ineffective, especially on those with darker skin.

The “blanching test” is a rudimentary check to see if an area is the potential site of a bedsore: A caregiver presses gently on the skin. If it’s healthy, it should briefly turn white and then quickly return to its normal shade. If it’s unhealthy, it will stay white. Unfortunately, the darker the skin — regardless of race — the more difficult it is to detect a change in hue.

​Sanna Gaspard, Ph.D., became aware of the difficulties of pressure-injury detection (and the scope of the condition) while pursuing her doctorate in biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. “When I learned about the condition,” she says, “how prevalent it was — and also that it was preventable ... those factors really caught my attention.”
Furthermore, the lack of a reliable detection method came as a surprise. “I thought, ‘How useful could an approach be if it doesn’t work on a large segment of the population?’”

​Gaspard began exploring the problem while earning degrees from CMU (a master’s in 2005 and a doctorate in 2011); simultaneously, bedsores were thrust back into focus for hospital systems. After 2008, Medicare and Medicaid stopped reimbursing hospitals for a number of conditions developed after a patient was admitted, including falls and trauma, certain surgical-site infections — and pressure injuries. Suddenly, administrators were more eager than ever to dramatically reduce the number of bedsores developed at their facilities.

“[The public] hadn’t truly ... considered that it was preventable,” Gaspard says. “It was assumed that when you went to the hospital, if you were there for too long, you would develop a bedsore.” While it’s nearly impossible to catch every pressure injury before it develops, she explains, “There are places that have zero occurrence of bedsores.”

As with many conditions, early detection is the key to prevention; the blanching test, though, remained woefully ineffective. While pursuing her doctorate, Gaspard formed Rubitection, a startup aiming to develop a better way to detect the formation of pressure injuries, saving hospitals time and money — and, more importantly, saving patients the pain and potential complications that can arise.

The result is the Rubitect Assessment System, a handheld device in the late stages of development. A caregiver holds the probe against the surface of the skin in a potential problem area, and the device takes measurements related to skin health. Additional results, displayed on a companion app, can indicate whether a pressure injury is beginning to form (or is already present).

In essence, the Rubitect Assessment System performs the same function as the blanching test — with pinpoint accuracy and little risk of human error, regardless of the patient’s skin tone.

“Our advantage ... is having a system that is an extension of the clinical standard — so we’re not going to be asking them to do anything new,” Gaspard says. “We’re just asking them to use a better measurement tool to do the same thing they’ve been doing.”

A long-term goal, Gaspard says, is gradually establishing the Rubitect Assessment System as the clinical standard; in the meantime, Rubitection’s task is to further refine the device and demonstrate to hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities that it is the most cost-effective, accurate way to treat the problem. (A handful of competing devices are also under development, though none operate in the exact way that the Rubitect Assessment System does.)

And keeping the device cost-effective is not simply a matter of appealing to hospitals, Gaspard says; by developing a device that won’t be prohibitively expensive, the potential for the Rubitect Assessment System to prevent bedsores grows exponentially.

“Not just in hospitals, but also in the nursing home,” Gaspard says. “Not just in the U.S., but also through clinics [around the world] by supporting low-cost tools for providing better care.

“I selected this project as my Ph.D. work because I thought it was an area where technology could save a lot of lives.”

–– S.C.
 

Next: Making the growing rideshare industry even more efficient
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

MultiStories: Three Times a Bust – The German National Bank

The bank was at the center of a corruption scandal which eventually led to an overhaul of Pittsburgh city government.

Matters of the Heart

In a city of eds and meds, it’s to be expected that some couples are going to meet in the medical field. We found some of the best “meet-cutes” from recent Pittsburgh weddings.

At Scene75, Be a Kid (or Bring Your Kids)

The entertainment center in Edgewood is a great time with or without little ones.

Pitt Attaches Old-School Signature to Narduzzi’s Championship Prediction

Thanks to wide receivers recognized for their blocking ability and an offensive line endearingly referred to as “knuckleheads“ –– the Panthers are one win away from making their head coach's bold pre-season prediction a reality.

Pittsburgh Restaurant News: Reduced Hours and a Chef Change

Two Oakland restaurants now have shorter hours and a chef moves from Downtown to Lawrenceville.

What Unites Us In the Wake of the Tree of Life Tragedy

We asked local faith leaders for their response to the massacre at Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill –– and how we can come together and more forward as a community.

Pittsburgh Restaurant Review: Molinaro Ristorante

Ron Molinaro's Downtown restaurant offers high-end Italian dishes made with top-notch ingredients, but is it worth the price premium?

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2018 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine highlights the unsung heroes of the health care field: our Excellence in Nursing honorees, chosen by our panel of distinguished judges in the field.

Nursing Shortage in Pittsburgh Calls for Creative Solutions

RetuRN to Practice entices retired nurses back Into the field.

Fine Art Meets High Fashion at the Carnegie International

With the Carnegie International as the backdrop, we feature work by local fashion designer Elaine Healey, who has been morphing from luxury womenswear to a more “non-binary” style.

The 400-Word Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

While Harry Potter diehards will find more than enough sustenance in the sequel, non-devotees may have a rough time following the action.

Pittsburgh's Tomorrow – What We Need in the Future

As the year comes to a close, we look forward to what Pittsburgh can be –– and what we'd like to see change –– in the coming years.

How to Shop Like a Pro for Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh

Our guide to produce, pastries, libations and more will help your table brim with tasty treats from Pittsburgh-area businesses.

Drink Like the French on Beaujolais Nouveau Day

Why and where to celebrate on Thursday, which marks the annual release of the young wine.

‘X’ Marks the Spot for This Wedding Scavenger Hunt

She thought she was going on a simple scavenger hunt. She never dreamed it would end with a wedding.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Pittsburgh Just Dodged the Amazon Bullet

Pittsburgh Just Dodged the Amazon Bullet

We should be relieved that the tech giant opted not to move in.

Comments

It's Official: Amazon HQ2 is Not Coming to Pittsburgh

It's Official: Amazon HQ2 is Not Coming to Pittsburgh

Instead of one city, the giant retailer is splitting its second headquarters between northern Virginia and New York City.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pittsburgh Restaurant News: Reduced Hours and a Chef Change

Pittsburgh Restaurant News: Reduced Hours and a Chef Change

Two Oakland restaurants now have shorter hours and a chef moves from Downtown to Lawrenceville.

Comments

How to Shop Like a Pro for Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh

How to Shop Like a Pro for Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh

Our guide to produce, pastries, libations and more will help your table brim with tasty treats from Pittsburgh-area businesses.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Fitness: Five Great Trails to Run in the Fall in Pittsburgh

Fitness: Five Great Trails to Run in the Fall in Pittsburgh

Don’t resign yourself to the gym treadmills just yet – fall is one of the best times of the year to get outside and pound the pavement, surrounded by falling leaves and the possibility of grabbing a hot latte on the way home.

Comments

Love Sourdough? Find the Best There Is at These Five Bake Shops

Love Sourdough? Find the Best There Is at These Five Bake Shops

We dove into the local artisan bread scene to find the best places that bake naturally leavened bread in Pittsburgh.

Comments


At Scene75, Be a Kid (or Bring Your Kids)

At Scene75, Be a Kid (or Bring Your Kids)

The entertainment center in Edgewood is a great time with or without little ones.

Comments

Five Essential November Events in Pittsburgh

Five Essential November Events in Pittsburgh

Avian art, altruistic alt-rock and more November nights.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pitt Attaches Old-School Signature to Narduzzi’s Championship Prediction

Pitt Attaches Old-School Signature to Narduzzi’s Championship Prediction

Thanks to wide receivers recognized for their blocking ability and an offensive line endearingly referred to as “knuckleheads“ –– the Panthers are one win away from making their head coach's bold pre-season prediction a reality.

Comments

Steelers Have Changed the Narrative in Dramatic Fashion

Steelers Have Changed the Narrative in Dramatic Fashion

A defense that was groping to accomplish the simplest of tasks has started to dominate. The offense has stopped getting in its own way and started exploding scoreboards.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

The 400-Word Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

While Harry Potter diehards will find more than enough sustenance in the sequel, non-devotees may have a rough time following the action.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The 400-Word Review: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Coen Brothers' western anthology is less than the sum of its parts, but it boasts some great tales.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Matters of the Heart

Matters of the Heart

In a city of eds and meds, it’s to be expected that some couples are going to meet in the medical field. We found some of the best “meet-cutes” from recent Pittsburgh weddings.

Comments

‘X’ Marks the Spot for This Wedding Scavenger Hunt

‘X’ Marks the Spot for This Wedding Scavenger Hunt

She thought she was going on a simple scavenger hunt. She never dreamed it would end with a wedding.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Schoolhouse Electric Brings Hip Lighting, Coffee, to Pittsburgh

Schoolhouse Electric Brings Hip Lighting, Coffee, to Pittsburgh

The Portland, Ore-based lighting and furnishings store, which shares space with a high-end coffeehouse from the team behind The Vandal restaurant, is located in East Liberty's Detective Building.

Comments

Own a Piece of the Allegheny County Courthouse With New Gift Line

Own a Piece of the Allegheny County Courthouse With New Gift Line

Wendell August Forge is turning the century-old terracotta roof tiles into a line of collectible itms that include wall hangings and beer flight carriers.

Comments