echOpen-the hand-held ultrasound

Over the past decade with technological advances in ultrasound allowing what was once a large machine to become essentially a hand-held device. With this convenience, of ultraportable ultrasound scanners came the cost of several thousand euros. In the operating room, surgeons can in real time see inside the human body using advanced imaging techniques, but primary care givers, the healthcare professionals in those remote areas who are on the front lines of diagnosing illnesses, haven't had access to the same technology. How could we use technology to improve health care making it low-cost and affordable?

Smartphone Ultrasound

According to Olivier De Fresnoye, combining the use technology, community and a device that almost everyone has in his/her pocket, they should be able to do just that. Being able to produce a medical image that can then transport to a smartphone or laptop, making it an affordable hand-held echo-stethoscope. It’s a device that every health care provider will want to carry in their pocket - allowing for faster and more accurate diagnosis, which means faster and better medical care. Saving the lives of mothers who die in developing countries during their pregnancies and create more interactions between professionals and patients. Portable ultrasound machines are typically used in situations where the immediate space is limited and mobility is important, or the scanning must be done in the field. Making portability a key issue.

Let’s meet echOpen


Olivier De Fresnoye, Innovator and adviser spent many years working in International and Industrial companies before entering the humanitarian field in Southeast Asia. It was during this time that he acknowledged that with technology and an open community to connect people, most of the tools were already in place to empower healthcare providers. 

The idea started out as a discussion between friends: an engineer, a mathematician, physician and a radiologist. As the discussion started with smartphones it ended in a question: How could we use smartphone technology to improve health care, considering that now almost everyone have one?  This idea emerged as a combination of their passion for open technology and community engagement. Using technologies already in existence, with a bit of modification is economical and perfectly functional to make their idea come true. 

Open source hardware

echOpen is an Open Source and collaborative project led by a core of experts and senior professionals that aims to develop the first Open Source Hardware and low cost ultrasound probe connected to a smartphone or tablet. This initiative is aimed to healthcare professionals in emerging countries as well as in developed countries,
The collaboration of professionals are in an open space with an ecosystem of researchers, community members, professionals in ultrasound technology an, radiologists, echography and medical laboratories. Through collaboration their vision is being realized.

“We strongly believe that Open Source and affordable approach and principles in medical devices are the means by which quality healthcare can be provided to all”, says Olivier De Fresnoye



The echOpen initiative echOpen is supported by the Fondation Pierre Fabre, with the support that the concept could be used in Africa, where doctors lack medical imaging devices. Mr. De Fresnoye and his team is planning to design the first medical prototype by 2017 to launch clinical trials with their medical partners and produce the first product. The widespread innovative use of mobile technologies it’s allowing initiatives like echOpen to improve health and health care delivery.

This could be a game changer.  It’s quick and easy to use. It can expedite diagnosis. With some countries not having access to ultrasound, due to the cost or not being portable enough. This initiative could be putting imaging within the economic reach of healthcare professionals globally. 

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CoreCareCollective-healthcare community

Research shows that being empowered in a debilitating situation has fundamental and beneficial effects on your immune system; enabling one to be more resilient and bounce back from treatments and setbacks better than others facing the same conditions. The initial shock of being diagnosed with Cancer can be mind-numbing. Once a doctor utters the word “cancer,” the rest sounds like a blur. No matter how clearly he or she spells out the truth, the terminology still feels foreign. It’s a language you don’t want to learn. Worried about what happens next or thinking about the impact on your life, along with the many emotions. This is the journey that Denise Sliepen and Carry Hendrix found themselves facing.  

Here is a portion of Denise and Carry’s story: 

“In 2015, we were diagnosed with different types of cancer. Ever since we were diagnosed until the end of our treatment we were more than convinced our body could fight this and we eventually would win the battle. We were a fanatic with sports and always focused on eating healthy. We immediately started to look for information on how to keep our body in the best shape during the chemo. During the first appointments we had at the hospital with a nurse specialized in cancer treatment, we received a lot of information on the treatment itself and its possible side effects. However, there was no information regarding healthy food, which products are best to eat during treatment or information on the possibility to continue exercising.

Our search started by using the internet to look up questions such as: Is it healthy to sport during treatment? What is the best food to eat? Should we be adding supplements to our daily meals? Who can help to keep my body in the best shape?

Through the dietician at the general practitioners office Carry received a list of products, which could effect the treatment and also some products to prevent loosing too much weight. We did not know if we had to expect a weight loss, because that is what we think chemo does to your bodies. We often forget is that we receive a lot of medicines to fight the treatment side effects, which have again their own side effects, such as potentially gaining weight (take for example prednisone, one tends to store a lot of body liquids that could cause weight increase).

The information from the GPs dietician was not sufficient, therefore we asked for the advice of a dietician at the hospital. During the first appointment we asked different kinds of questions, but we were shocked by the answers.”

Do all cancer patients struggle with the information being provided on nutrition and exercise during treatment? They realized healthy eating and nutrition support can improve a patient's quality of life during cancer treatment, but there must be platform to share this information. This was the stepping-stone to their initiative CoreCareCollective.

Let’s meet CoreCareCollective

Carry Hendrix and Denise Sleipen
CoreCareCollective
Being strong willed and wanting to know more about what they could do about changes to their diet and exercise to keep their bodies at the strongest during chemotherapy is one of the many questions they had. They were given information about treatment and possible side effects, but there was no information on healthy food, or which products were the best to eat or how to exercise safely during and after treatment.

How much nutrition advice can a doctor give during an appointment? Chances are, none. Most appointments last less than 15 minutes, which doesn’t leave time for a thorough diet assessment, but that doesn’t mean that physicians shouldn’t broach the subject at all. Where can they get this additional information?

This made them realize, if they have all these questions, there must be others who also want answers.  They searched the internet to find anything that could benefit them and offer support.  What if other people facing the same diagnosis had questions such as: How do I fight lingering fatigue? What should I eat to help prevent a recurrence? Should I Only Eat Organically Grown Foods?

What if we were to share the stories, share what works for them. Everyone impacted by cancer has a unique story and experience to share. From their discussions, their alliance saw the need for a platform that is open and supportive.

Support emotionally and socially

The CoreCareCollective initiative was created by Denise Sliepen and Carry Hendrix to support the emotional and social needs of people living with cancer. This initiative promises to create a professionally led network of cancer support dedicated to ensuring all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and sustained by community. This is a unique collective that brings people together to share their experiences, identify issues that impact their lives, access resources, and learn and support each other. A platform to empower people facing cancer with techniques, tools, tips and shared experiences that will help them in their own healing and move away from being helpless and traditional patients.

Every person who faces cancer has a story. The beating heart of CoreCareCollective is a space where the individual and collective voices impacted by cancer can be heard, shared and to understand the social and emotional needs of patients, families and caregivers throughout the cancer journey. A platform that will honour the individual experience and create a community of understanding that extends to the entire health care delivery system.

Denise and Carry are on a mission to improve how cancer patients receive care and to collaborate as they generate and build a powerful platform to help people engage with their cancer in a positive immune boosting way. It is the hope that every person and family battling cancer will reach out to the many others who want to help and get connected to a community that cares. 

Sharing the stories of the initiatives, each with a promising and innovative approach to reinvent healthcare.











WeHandU - restoration of motor ability

OpenCare consortium initiated a Call in June, 2016 to Hack Open the Care System. OpenCare is the promise of bridging the gap between mainstream health care and community health care to embrace a collective approach. The Call is preparing for OpenCare@CERN, November 7-9th, 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland. From movements to makers, by communities, for communities. With the closing of the Call approaching, we will be sharing the promising and innovative entries and their collaborators.  Coming from various backgrounds, all participants share the same vision, one size does not fit all when meeting the health care needs of the people.

Millions of people suffer from motor impairment, so why are so few effective devices available? Some inventions never make it to the market and people are offered standard mechanical solutions rather than exploring alternatives, says Rune Thorsen, one of the creators of WeHandU. Rune, together with Alexander Shumsky, decided to explore those alternatives. Instead, of the one size-fits all approach; they ventured into helping people invent their own solutions to improve their health and mobility, while assisting them with knowledge and skills to provide a gateway for reaching their objectives in a scientifically sound way. That is the approach of WeHandU, with advancement in technology, everyday people can produce highly sophisticated devices.

Let’s Meet WeHandU


Rune Thorsen, M.Sc.e.e, Industrial Ph.D. Senior Researcher at Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi ONLUS, Milan, Italy, has been with hospitals and universities in Denmark, Holland and England.
His speciality is rehabilitation engineering with focus on the restoration of motor ability in physically challenged people such as spinal cord injured and stroke victims.
We hope to be able to recruit people to demonstrate the feasibility of a WeHandU initiative. To reach a sustainable level and let the idea spread. Hopefully achieving a culture where people can get direct access to high technology resulting from research and development in various areas related to physical rehabilitation", says Rune Thorsen.


Alexander Shumsky, B.A. Designer at Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi ONLUS with the biomedical technology department is responsible for the development of the ergonomic component of an assistive device for restoring hand function.

Together, a fluent path was formed, driven by coincidences, opportunities and a passion for helping people in an open environment, blending technology with creativity.  This path led to collaborating with Constantino Buongiorno,  Engineer at WeMake. WeHandU, a collaborative space for creation of assistive devices where targeted participants are the centre of open-source projects. A platform where people with motor impairment can meet, collaborate and work together to create solutions contrary to the hospital experience. This model will explore ways to transfer research results directly to the end-user. Ideas will be challenged and transformed into methods and assistive technology for daily living. Most of today’s devices are designed for the typical, able-bodied user; for the most part and left to adapt as best they can.

WeHandU offers an alternative approach tailored to an individual’s needs and can be adjusted to accommodate varying capabilities. People with the same medical diagnosis can have a wide range of motor capabilities. People challenged by Multiple Sclerosis, stroke patients and persons with spinal cord injury will find help collaborating with clinicians as well as people with ‘soft’ skills in the socializing context of a makerspace. Together with physiotherapists, engineers and designers, researchers and healthcare professionals realizing solutions to personal needs in the form of assistive devices will be born. 

Cooperative makerspace

A cooperative makerspace to create devices for use in everyday life, improving or maintaining individual functional capabilities. WeHandU, will address the challenges of mobility and demonstrate how these challenges can be resolved by helping people's creativity in a social environment. Challenges people often meet is the need for adaptation of tools to be able to perform day-to-day task. As abilities change, WeHandU laboratory will be able implement such changes.

With rapid-prototyping tech, 3d printing and a host of other modern technologies allows creative people to create a bridge for effective low-cost collaboration. WeHandU, a community endowed with both care problems and care solutions, equipped with collective smarts and open knowledge, promises to give new hope to paraplegic patients. This maker-lab, with a peer-to peer approach,  will not only represent the research world but also create a user experience, with an open-spirited approach. 


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