16 innovators of affordable, novel medical devices

 16 innovators of affordable, novel medical devices

Book The Essence of Medical Device Innovation
Author B Ravi
Pages 200
Publisher The Write Place
Price Rs 295

First glance at The Essence of Medical Device Innovation and the thought strikes you: “Oh! It is one of those drab medical books. Who is going to review this?” Just as the plan to pass it on to a junior colleague strikes, you read the note on the back cover: “The Essence of Medical Device Innovation by Prof B Ravi showcases 16 stories of innovators from different parts of India, who created novel yet affordable medical devices at the Biomedical Engineering & Technology Innovation Centre (BETIC) in IIT Bombay and their partner institutes. The stories provide valuable insights about the opportunities and challenges in this field. The best ways to define, develop, deliver and deploy medical devices ae laid out…”

And then you get interested. Sixteen innovators. Creators of affordable yet novel medical devices. Got to read this. The idea of handing it over to the junior colleague gets shelved and off you are to one corner to read through, what you find out later, is treasure house of information.

Let us begin with how the author has divided the book into four sections: Define – Find Unmet Needs; Develop – Make Novel Devices; Deliver – Test and Certify and Deploy – Give to Users after explaining in the first chapter on Medical Devices where he explains in detail about the types of medical devices, market opportunities, development challenges and innovation process. Prof Ravi has smartly woven real-life stories related with these innovations which gets the reader glued on as you get a sense of “it-could-be-my-story” feeling.

The first story the author touches upon is about “an industrial designer who worked closely with an orthopaedic surgeon in order to create an innovative plastic shoe for immobilising a fractured leg bone.” Arvind, a first year engineering student in Pune, had just finished his first semester exams. “After dinner in hostel, he went outside to practice a backflip. He could complete the flip, but the landing was not perfect. His ankle got twisted, and the tibia bone fractured close to where it met the heel.” The doctors at the local hospital advised implanting a metal plate to hold the fractured pieces together. Arvind’s father chose to take him back to Mumbai where he met a local orthopaedic surgeon who, on examining the X-ray advised a standard plaster.

Second opinion from Dr Vijay at Hiranandani Hospital suggested CT scan which clearly showed “an inclined fracture but no dislocation of the fractured bones, making an implant unnecessary.” Instead “the doctor recommended something new: instead of a plaster cast, how about a lightweight 3D-printed plastic shoe enclosing the lower leg?” But there was a catch. He had seen it used on a hand in an American Hospital. But then they called on Guruprasad.

An industrial designer, Guruprasad, offered to design as well as fabricate the plastic “shoe” in his 3D printing company free of cost. An app-based software was used to take multiple photos of Arvind’s leg for reconstructing its 3D surface model. A lot of holes were made to reduce the weight of the shoe as also provide ventilation to the leg. And as these groves looked like those in Neil Armstrong’s shoes, it was named, Moonwalker. Thus, an innovation was planned by a surgeon but implemented successfully by an industrial designer.

Similarly, Prof Ravi talks about 15 other such innovators: Adarsha’s Pulse Examiner, Tapas’ Smart Stethoscope, Mayur’s Hybrid Plaster Splint, Lata’s Gall Bladder Retractor, Nelson’s Clubfoot Brace Monitor, Pranav’s Bone Scaffolds…

In his foreword to The Essence of Medical Device Innovation, noted nuclear physicist Dr Anil Kakodkar rightly pens, “Developing technologically advanced, yet cost-effective medical devices and equipment – suited to Indian needs and conditions – is therefore the need of the hour. Experience has shown that state-of-the-art equipment developed within the country can substantially bring down the cost of these products in the market by half or more. Given the expertise in medical, technology and engineering domains that exists in India, creating such state-0f-the-art medical devices and equipment is certainly well within reach.”

Not to forget the epilogue which says that all of these innovators had a common factor: their love for science and technology. “Most are engineers interested in biology. Many of them even considered a medical career after high school, and some pursued biomedical engineering after graduation.” Prof Ravi also points out as to how he found out that most of these innovators came from rural or semi-urban areas and were born in low or middle income families. And that their parents knew the value of education and worked hard to send their children to good colleges.

Must admit that it was an enlightening experience reading through The Essence of Medical Device Innovation and the idea of not sharing any more stories with you on this platform has a reason. Buy a copy today and get up, close and personal with people who, with their innovations, bring a smile on your faces.


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1 Comment

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