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Intermountain Medical Center Researcher Develops New Device That Could Potentially Revolutionize Diabetes Care

Jess Gomez

 (801) 507-7455



MURRAY, UT (2/7/2011) – One of the most prolific inventors at Intermountain Medical Center has come up with a new invention: a device that could potentially revolutionize diabetes care.

The new device is called a Smart Tray and was invented by Joel Ehrenkranz, MD, director of diabetes and endocrinology at Intermountain Medical Center, flagship hospital for the Intermountain Healthcare system.

The tray includes seven separate sections, each with its own sensitive scale, and is programmed with a database of 7,000 food items

Users can place different foods on the tray, tell the tray what it's holding, and begin eating. The tray will instantly calculate the calories, carbohydrates, protein, and fat being consumed. That information can be relayed wirelessly to a computer, mobile device, or insulin pump and automatically determine the patient's next dose of insulin.

"Right now diabetics don't have access to accurate, personalized nutritional information. It's very time- and labor-intensive to calculate, so it's hard for hospitals and individuals to do. That makes it harder to control the disease," said Dr. Ehrenkranz.

"The Smart Tray gives caregivers and patients precise information, and that will empower them to better manage diabetes,” he says.

The Smart Tray can also track things like potassium, cholesterol, and sodium, which will benefit individuals with heart failure, renal failure, high cholesterol, and even individuals who just want to lose weight. The tray is also customizable, so that users can input their family recipes.

One major benefit is that the tray works with Intermountain Healthcare's internationally recognized electronic health record system, so that nutritional information can be streamed into a patient's chart and become part of an extremely complex set of data used to improve care.

The Smart Tray project began at Intermountain Medical Center, with collaboration from Richard Brown, dean of the University of Utah College of Engineering. A patent is pending and The Smart Tray is moving toward production. The goal is to use it in Intermountain hospitals and eventually make it available to individuals for use at home.

“This project is the type of research and innovation that is occurring at Intermountain Medical Center on a daily basis,” says David Grauer, CEO/administrator of the hospital. “We’re very proud to be able to support this kind of work that will lead to significant advancements in the way care is delivered to patients.”

Currently, there are more than 500 clinical trials underway at Intermountain Medical Center.

The Smart Tray is the latest in a long list of inventions by Dr. Ehrenkranz, who has developed several drugs and medical devices. One recent example is a simple, inexpensive test for iodine deficiency. The test, featured in the February edition of the journal Thyroid, works like a home pregnancy test, eliminating the need for labs and technicians. It's being used in developing nations to diagnose newborns with iodine deficiency and begin treatment, preventing major public health problems such as goiter.

Dr. Ehrenkranz is a graduate of Stanford School of Medicine and has served on the medical staffs of hospitals on the East Coast, Colorado, and Arizona. He is the holder of seven patents and is widely published in the field of endocrinology. He has served in roles with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health, as well as several professional organizations.

Dr. Ehrenkranz, MD, and a handful of other scientists, were recently honored by the University of Utah for their inventions and contributions to advancing science in the state of Utah.

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