Improving health in the developing world, in particular, requires access to affordable equipment for translational research, diagnosis, and treatment. Currently, business acumen and connections, charisma, and serendipity play an outsize role in equipping users with devices. A functional supply chain that can quickly link all web-connected users with a wide range of innovative, reasonably-priced devices well-suited to their needs means better health outcomes in low-resource settings.
An estimated 2 billion people in the world have inadequate access to healthcare and around 9 million children die before reaching their 5th birthdays. Despite the fact that there are at least 10,000 biomedical devices currently at use in the world, many of them are not well suited to use in low-resource settings. Devices created for the developed world are often highly inappropriate in the developing world. How do end users and those along the now-fragmented supply chain source, evaluate, compare, and acquire the right devices for their needs? Many devices designed in the developing world are the least likely to overcome the barriers to entry in the global marketplace. How do the growing numbers of innovators now designing ultra-low-cost devices share their innovations with the potential universe of global users in a timely way? How can users share feedback with the innovators and others about their experience?
The existing supply chain is both highly fragmented and heavily dependent on established manufacturers and distribution networks.
While developers are keen to deploy their devices as widely and quickly as possible — for field-testing and revenue-generation as well as improving health outcomes — they face daunting challenges. Innovators of the least-costly devices in particular may have little business acumen, few connections, and tiny budgets, if any. The significant lag time between invention and distribution through established channels is a high barrier to entry. Much useful intellectual property serves only tiny local populations and much is undoubtedly abandoned as innovators become discouraged and move on to other pursuits with more tangible rewards.
End users want access to the best devices for their needs, so being able to source a wide variety of options and evaluate their suitability through user feedback are high priorities. Many clinics, hospitals, and labs in the developing world are now equipped — to whatever extent they are — with second-hand devices provided by charity-minded first-world physicians, institutions, NGOs, and others that may be outdated and ill-suited to their settings due to lack of reliable electricity, training, parts, supplies, technical support, or other requirements.
BioMedLink aims to bridge the gap between device innovators, end users, and those who fund, manufacture, and distribute biomedical devices in the developing world.
- Discovered a new world & an amazing community!
- Brought a 20,000-ft view idea out of incubation mode into public view
- Made great contacts & connections
- Answered many great questions that helped shape problem definition &clarified vision of the solution
- Received offers of supply chain code (Nike Sustainable Materials team)
- Discovered open source tools for mapping (Google) & to aid development process
- Expanded geek and hacker vocabulary
- Learned about a lot of awesome projects & the hackathon process
- Selected & registered domain name, set up email forwarding
- Helped script & direct another RHoK team’s video
- Shot a 1-minute video introducing BioMedLink.net
- Developed a placeholder website & created a FB presence
- Designed the first app flow chart with drafts of two key data base entry forms
- Met key team members, mentors, & supporters
- Contacted team members
- Reached out to several potential stakeholders with overview, 1-min video, etc.
- Further articulated problem/solution
- Met several times with Technical Lead
- Put together accelerator application
- Conducted important research
- Better understand process, issues & technology choices
- Deepened connection with & confidence in Technical Lead
- Scheduled meeting with device innovator at Stanford next week
- Id’d key resources among current contacts, specific stakeholders & potential sponsors
- Found valuable sources for data sets
- Id’d key contact at WHO in Geneva
- Compiled material & developed a 5-min video for the accelerator application that can use for other purposes
- Develop detailed guidance for:
- coding team
- UI/UX designers
- social marketers
- Continue organizing information/material being collected
- Develop information materials for stakeholders
- Continue scheduling meetings with stakeholders & following up
- Begin drafting business plan