Innovation International Health Care Systems

Innovation, health care and shampoo bottles

Innovation in health care often improves quality but also increases cost.  That is not always the case.  Consider the case of an innovative Bangladeshi physician who was interested in improving care for patients with pneumonia who could not afford the $15,000 cost of the ventilators used in a developing work:

However, after a second piece of serendipitous inspiration, when he picked up a discarded shampoo bottle that contained leftover bubbles, Dr Chisti realised he could probably lash together something that did the same job [as a ventilator].  Which he did, using an oxygen supply (which is, in any case, needed for the low-flow oxygen delivery method), some tubing and a plastic bottle filled with water.  And it worked…As well as saving lives, his device has cut the hospital’s spending on pneumonia treatment by nearly 90%.  The materials needed to make his version of a bubble-CPAP ventilator cost a mere $1.25.

Plus because the device used less oxygen than a conventional ventilator, hospitals saved on oxygen costs as well.  Certainly this innovation represents a win-win for patients (improved quality) and providers (lower cost).

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