Affordability: a most noble driver of innovation

By Tracey Grose

In the realm of innovation in healthcare, affordability is a most noble driver. Creative and inspired individuals are prioritizing cost reduction in their design strategies for high and low-tech healthcare tools and services. These people are heroes in both the developing world as well as advance economies.

D-Rev, for Design Revolution, aims to develop world-class technology that is affordable to people who live on the equivalent of $4 per day. They are also focus on the unique needs of people in different parts of the world. In the development of the ReMotion Knee, a prosthetic knee, they aimed to reduce the psychological stress that arises from the awkwardness of a typical low-cost prosthetic. They aimed to design a knee that would allow for a natural gait and for sitting cross-legged as is common in many cultures.

In the area of newborn health, D-Rev has developed a low-cost treatment for jaundice, the top global health issue for babies. Brilliance is a low-cost phototherapy that uses long-lasting LEDs that require low levels of power to operate. The design has been licensed to Phoenix Medical Systems in Chennai, India, which manufactures, distributes and sells the apparatus around the world.

Rice University's 360 Degree Institute for Global Health Technologies is also pushing the envelop in low-cost health technology. Acute respiratory illnesses like pneumonia are a leading cause of child mortality in the developing world. The team has developed a $400 bubble Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (bCPAP) system that would cost $6,000 in hospitals in the United States. Currently used in Malawi, the Institute plans to roll out the bCPAP with support from GSK and Save the Children, in Zambia, Tanzania, and South Africa.

The DoseRight Syringe Clip system was developed by the Institute in partnership with the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative in Swaziland and with design assistance from 3rd Stone Design. Ensuring the proper dosing for children being treated for HIV is a challenge in the developing world where literacy and numeracy can be limited. The color-coded dosing clip fits into an oral syringe. The clips have been successfully distributed in Swaziland in collaboration with the Swaziland Ministry of Health and the Clinton Health Access Initiative.

Photo credits: D-Rev and 3rd Stone Design

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