Blood results within 10 minutes, right beside the patient's bed
Philips is on its way to revolutionizing the way hospitals do their blood testing.
They are developing the breakthrough Minicare Acute system, which will deliver lab-comparable test results at the ‘point-of-care’, right beside the patient’s bed. The Minicare system, containing a handheld analyzer with a user-friendly interface and a disposable cartridge, will be able to display blood test results within minutes, potentially speeding up clinical diagnosis. The first product they will put on the market will test for Troponin – a protein that is released in the body when a heart attack is taking place. TMC employeneur Michel Werts works for Philips Handheld Diagnostics and is part of the process development group for the Minicare Acute system and especially the disposable cartridge.
Michel: “The cartridge is the place where the blood is tested. Inside the cartridge are antibodies that can react with, for example, certain proteins in your blood. A drop of blood is applied on the cartridge, and then it is transported through a small channel towards the antibodies. I was responsible for the development of this part in the production process, changing the surface properties of the transport channel to make the blood flow properly through it.
TMC matched my competences in printing techniques with the needs of Philips to expand their process development group. When I started, the process was very unstable, resulting in low production yields and much downtime of the equipment. Thanks to my expertise I was able to quickly improve this within a few months, and take the process to an industrial level.
After that I got involved in a new dispensing process, the feasibility of which was shown in the research group. My task was to transfer this process to production. This included specifying new equipment, optimizing the process, developing measuring techniques to constantly monitor the quality, determining the limits and capabilities of the process and, lastly, training the operators to use the equipment. It was a very rewarding project in which I could use all my skills. TMC and Philips recognized my strong points and made use of this in the most effective way.”
Being an employeneur at Philips
The collaboration between TMC and Philips has been very successful for both parties. Currently there are seven employeneurs working at Philips Handheld Diagnostics, coming from several cells. The direct communication between the group leaders of Philips and the account managers at TMC makes it possible for TMC to quickly respond to new vacancies, and propose possible candidates within a few days.
“Philips is very flexible in employing the employeneurs; you can be assigned to a single project for a fixed time period, or – as in my case – be part of a larger team that has mutual goals to achieve. This means that your tasks can change regularly, but it also gives you the opportunity to get involved with many different disciplines, such as biochemistry, manufacturing and marketing. You act as a full member of the company and also take part in the decision-making. But as an employeneur you also have greater freedom to simply take a step back from all that and focus on your tasks and the impact of your assignment.”
With the Troponin test almost in production, Philips Handheld Diagnostics is already working on the next products, also based on the Minicare Acute system.
“I started at Philips as a process development engineer for one process step, but my ambition for the long term is to become a process architect. To help achieve this goal, I’ve been working as the technical lead for the process development of two future products for the last two months. That means that I have to assure a high quality and yield for not one but ten process steps. Fortunately we have already gained a lot of process knowledge over the past few years for the first product. My task is to identify possible risks and interactions between the many process steps for the new products and to optimize the processes to reduce these risks. This requires close collaboration with the (biochemical) assay development and manufacturing departments, while keeping in mind the project milestones. These new point-of-care tests will further improve the way doctors can diagnose diseases. To do the work that I love while potentially helping a lot of people is very rewarding.”