UH, Methodist Hospital collaborate to create health treatment center

The UH College of Technology and the Methodist Hospital Research Institute partnered and produced the Abramson Center for the Future of Health, with research professor Clifford C. Dacso serving as executive director.

The center focuses mainly on giving patients the tools that they need in order to make informed judgments in regards to their treatment.

Treatment is, first and foremost, something that a patient and medical personnel do together, starting with placing technology in the hands of the patient, Dacso said.

The Abramson Center was recently awarded a $1 million grant from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund for research and work on an easy-to-use technology suite that allows the patient a greater amount of control in medical testing.

“One of the things we’ve been working on is this notion of ‘can we give you information that you ordinarily would not be able to get outside of a hospital or a doctor’s office or a lab,’” Dacso said. “All our technology that we’ve been working on for the past several years is focused on that idea, giving you information in real time that’s actionable.”

Focusing on what is normal to the masses is not necessarily the best way to approach individual treatment, Dacso said.

The instruments that the center is currently working on are calibrated specifically to the patient that is using them, establishing a new set of norms that apply only to them—thus making it easier to identify when preventative measures should be taken to avoid hospital visits.

“Most chronic illnesses… Are characterized by stability punctuated by decompensation events. Most of those decompensation events, on the surface at least, come without warning,” Dacso said. “On the other hand, if you know what to look for, there are plenty of signs that would give information that said, ‘if you don’t do something in the next six or 12 hours, 36 hours from now, something really awful is going to happen to you.’”

The Blue Scale, which looks like a bathroom scale with handlebars, is a tool for heart patients that the center is working to commercialize through Dacso’s company, Blue Box Health.

The Blue Scale reads heart rate, fluid retention, cardiac output and weight in less than a minute.

“You stand on it, hold onto the handles, and it takes a series of noninvasive readings that correlate with the amount of blood your heart is pumping,” Dacso said.

Blue Box Health was one of 50 companies competing for the grant that it received.

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