Updated: Mar 23
We're featuring cool, interesting or impactful things happening in our industry, and this round we chat with NovitaTech on their digital workflow journey and work in remote communities.
Who do you work with, and where?
NovitaTech have a team of six Orthotists/Prosthetists, one Orthotic Technician, one Technical Assistant and two Administrators. We work with adults and children living with various disabilities who are registered with the NDIS as well as Fee-for-service clients. We currently service all of South Australia including metropolitan Adelaide through our clinics in Warradale, Elizabeth, Thebarton and Hindmarsh, and regionally to Broken Hill, Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Berri, Kadina, Murray Bridge and Christie's Beach.
When did you start your digital workflow journey?
NovitaTech Orthotics Team converted to 100% digital modification in 2018 and have since used a combination of traditional and digital workflows to service the needs of our customers quickly and with the latest innovative products.
What made you start? How have you gone about starting?
NovitaTech is dedicated to being a leader in new and innovative technologies, so of course we wanted to be as digital as possible, and we also have a big focus on environmental impacts. Digital workflows help us to reduce the waste materials in our production and eliminate the need for plaster and paper- a big win all around! We started with changing how we modify leg shapes ready for manufacture. Traditionally we did all of this by hand with plaster, and now we use digital software to make the same changes.
What are you hoping to achieve by working digitally - for your clients and for your service?
Being able to work in regional areas is so important to us. We want to service our clients wherever they may live, and provide the same level of service and same quality of products as they would have access to if they lived in Adelaide. Digital workflows allow us to make changes to leg shapes on the road, in the air, no matter where we are. When we use digital manufacture, we can even send an AFO shape to be completely manufactured from just about anywhere, as long as we have an internet connection. There's no need to wait until we return to Adelaide. Working digitally is working flexibly.
What does digital fabrication enable in your orthotics work with remote communities?
For us the biggest advantage of digital fabrication is the replicability- the ability to make a custom device again and again and know it is identical. So if someone in a remote area breaks or loses their orthoses- no problem!- they can call us and we can make a new device exactly the same. They don't have to wait until they see us, we don't have to stress about trying to replicate something in plaster, it's all digital and ready to go whenever needed.
Any particular stories of impact or case studies you'd like to share?
For us the best 3D printed product is Resting AFO's, because we find that they are less hot and bulky when made through a digital process than using traditional plastics. This helps to increase compliance and is so important for many clients who need to maintain their calf muscle length. A really great example of this is a young client of ours who lives in regional SA. We have only been able to see the client once in the past two years due to covid restrictions and health complications, but at our one appointment, we were able to measure and take a cast for a custom Resting AFO. We had this digitally manufactured, it was fit via telehealth with a local physiotherapist assisting, and now that the client has grown, we just get them to take some measurements and photos and we can digitally fabricate a larger AFO. It's not 100% ideal, of course our preference is to see people face to face and take a new cast of their leg, but the digital workflow allows us to be flexible and accommodating to our client's needs!
Anything else you’d like to share about digital fabrication and its potential for the sector, or working in remote communities?
Working in regional and remote communities is one of the most rewarding parts of our jobs! The digital workflow and digital fabrication services such as AbilityMade have reduced many of the barriers for providing quality orthotic devices in these areas. Now we just have to get more clinicians working in regional and remote areas.
What would you say to other orthotists considering digital fabrication?
Digital fabrication is just another tool in the tool box of orthotists and prosthetists, and one that's worth exploring if you want to expand your practice and learn new skills.
MORE ABOUT NOVITATECH
NovitaTech combines creative thinking and technology to enhance human capability. Our comprehensive suite of quality products and services, enrich and enhance everyday life. We love supporting people living with disability to achieve their personal goals.