…which is to say, we won’t be talking about how drivers are treated after accidents. In fact, this particular breakthrough has more to do with the health of the cars.
If you’ve ever watched a broadcast of a Formula 1 race, you’ll have seen the bottom of the screen showing real-time readouts of a car’s speed, gear, g-forces in a corner etc., and in the pits, the crews are receiving a continuous stream of data on hundreds of parameters per second while the car is on the track – resulting in the transmission of over 700 million numbers, per car, per race.
And what does this have to do with hospitals (UK’s Birmingham Children’s Hospital to be specific)? Well, the BCH is using McLaren’s technology and wireless sensors to monitor its young patients on a continuous basis, rather than just checking vital signs every few hours. Before long, it might be possible for outpatients to take this technology home, so their recovery can continue to be monitored remotely. You can find a detailed article on the pilot project here, and a Ted Talk by McLaren’s Peter van Manen here.
But motorsport’s recent contributions to healthcare aren’t limited to the technological. Another children’s hospital in the UK (the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children) has been using Formula 1’s ability to refuel and change a race car’s 4 tires in less than 7 seconds (or three seconds now that refueling has been phased out) to learn how to better manage handovers from Surgery to Intensive Care.
During a time when, for example “…all the technology and support (ventilation, 2-4 monitoring lines, multiple inotropes and vasodilators) is transferred twice, from theater systems to portable equipment, then to the intensive care systems, within 15 min…” the congregation of so many people with diverse tasks in close quarters and under tight time constraints has definite parallels to a pit stop – and the precision choreography of a Formula 1 pit crew has been a useful model in increasing efficiency and reducing errors.
Sometimes genius is simply a matter of bringing together two seemingly unrelated fields and finding the connections.