A new model for medical device development
LUNAR’s contributions to a new collaborative-development model that reaches across cultures is bringing a low-cost medical device to developing countries where the human need is great and traditional health care products are unaffordable.
Our experience is chronicled in Fast Company this month.
The Stanford India Biodesign program turned to LUNAR to lend its engineering and user interface expertise to developing a bone drill — used to access the marrow and vascular system inside bones when a patient’s veins have collapsed or are inaccessible. The device needed to be disposable, have a low part count, be inexpensive, easily assembled, capable of being used by a poorly trained person, and able to be manufactured cheaply in India.
We tackled a similar issue with a low-cost sleep-apnea device LUNAR co-developed for Ventus Medical. That product won an IDEA gold award last year.
We engineered the bone drill to work manually rather than on expensive batteries. We stripped out nonessential features and made sure the drill could be operated with only two hands.
The collaboration benefitted both sides. The Indians got access to Silicon Valley’s sophisticated engineering and device-development ecosystem, and the California team got a ramped-up design process, thanks to the relative ease of testing in India.
There are still some hurdles before the device will be available commercially. But this new model — taking advantage of the best opportunities in each culture — has the potential to up-end device development and boomerang back with benefits for health care on both sides.
Photo: Bone drills enable fluids to be delivered into bone marrow in less than 60 second–a lifesaver when a patient’s veins have collapsed. These prototypes by LUNAR demonstrate the steps from drilling to fluid delivery. | Photograph courtesy of ABC Family