Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

AQB-CARE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 781685
Country: Italy
Domain: Health, Society

No more bath-time anxiety for at-home bedridden patients

A new miniaturised, portable shower system for use in bed is a groundbreaking solution to the problems of maintaining hygiene for independent living for those with restricted mobility.
No more bath-time anxiety for at-home bedridden patients
Three million Europeans are unable to live independently due to ageing, disease, accidents or long-term disability. Not only is washing difficult for the patient getting in and out of bed, but it puts the healthcare provider service under extreme time and work pressure. “Our new AQB system brings significant benefits to caregivers and patients worldwide, reducing the impact of ageing and disability and incidence of infections, while improving life quality of low mobility and bedbound patients,” outlines Matteo Monticelli, project coordinator.

Aquabuddy SRL already have two products on the market in the home care area - a professional version of the portable shower for hospitals (AQB-Pro) and a smaller version (AQB-Home) addressing formal care in nursing homes as well as the caregiver in the patient’s home. Sales have extended to many nursing homes and private clients in Austria, Germany, Italy, Poland, Australia and China.

A new generation of home shower

The company has improved its existing products, especially in terms of size and weight, two factors that exacerbate lifting and production costs. “To compete and succeed in the long-term home care market segment, the price, size and weight of medical devices need to be as low as possible while not compromising the functions of the system,” comments Monticelli.

Researchers analysed user activities to develop a new mobile system, AQB-Care. Portable, lightweight, affordable and eco-friendly, the new system is aimed mainly at the growing number of mobile caregivers.

The new AQB-Care is still in development. Field trials have proven real effectiveness of the product but the related clinical trials are not ongoing yet. As Monticelli outlines, “Our plan is to involve Ospedale Bellaria (under Bologna University) and another nursing home in Italy, while in Germany we still have to confirm a clinical partner in the Cologne area. The trial will last up to 12 months in each clinic and the target number of patients will be at least 100 with another 100 in a control group.”

For full industrialisation of AQB-Care, the technical specifications of the mature product and the definition of the scale-up process have all been analysed. The final goal is to reach complete industrialisation of the new AQB’s manufacturing process and for that we have assessed the techno-economic feasibility of the project. A technical viability plan, a commercial plan, a freedom to operate analysis and a financial plan for the five years post-project are all complete.

Trials and issues in design and funding

With AQB products now on the market and in use, it would be easy to assume design and manufacture are straightforward. On the contrary, this process is complex, lengthy and costly, and it is very difficult to find expert companies that deliver consistent results. The project solution is to rent a 3D printer to pre-design and test our production pieces before sending them to manufacturing. This would ensure that the final product meets expectations.

Moreover, each regulatory structure for medical devices in Europe differs from country to country. Each member state has its own policies with reimbursement being approved by either private or public insurance companies or a mixture of the two. “Approval for reimbursement from the public health providers requires lengthy negotiations, even when you have previous experience, which is the case with AQB-HOME in Germany.”

PHASE 2 coming up

AQB-CARE has applied for Phase 2 funding through H2020 and they aim to start commercialisation in 2021.” Monticelli expresses his hopes for the future of AQB-CARE, “Our fingers are crossed to get the SME-Instrument funds! We will take AQB-Care to the market whatever it takes, but the process will be nicer, easier and more effective with the further help of EU funding in Phase 2.”

Related information

Keywords

AQB-CARE, home, patient, bed, shower
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