This is a Guest Post from Jay Lopez, President and CEO of Estill Medical Technologies. In this post, the topics of medical innovations on the battlefield, affects on civilian life, and the medical needs for Ebola patients are covered. Jay is a member of ASP’s Business Council for American Security.
How many times have you heard that military medicine drives innovation, and then transfers that innovation into life-saving changes in civilian medicine?
I’ll give you two specific examples.
In 2001, our company, Estill Medical Technologies, developed and sold our Thermal Angel Blood and IV Fluid Warmer to the U.S. Military. The Thermal Angel is used to help warm the IV fluids given to military trauma patients in the field. Because the Thermal Angel is battery powered, it made a huge difference in pushing critical care as far forward into the battlefield as possible. Warming IV fluid or blood takes a tremendous amount of energy, especially if you need to infuse the fluid quickly in battlefield conditions. Because of this design requirement, our standard battery was 6 pounds, and took about 12 hours to charge from AC power. Even with this heavy battery, the Thermal Angel became a standard of care in many sets, kits and outfits, and affected thousands of military lives.
A few years ago, we were fortunate enough to be introduced to Ret. General P.K. Carlton, Surgeon General of the USAF. General Carlton stressed to us some of the things that really matter to our military, telling us “Ounces equals pounds, and pounds equal pain!” General Carlton asked us to push ourselves and try to innovate a lighter battery that could be charged off of any asset in the field, in a very short amount of time. That push was enough to really force our company to focus on meeting the needs of the military caregivers in the field.
We developed our Ultra Battery. The Standard Battery was 6 pounds, while the new Ultra Battery is 1.25 pounds. The Standard Battery took about 12 hours to charge and required access to AC. The Ultra Battery charges in 1.5 hours, and can charge off of AC, DC from vehicles, or DC from other batteries. General Carlton’s push for innovation helped us deliver a product that was easier to carry, charge, and use in the field, thus enabling our military to deploy even more Thermal Angels, in more assets, in further forward locations, serving more patients.
So how does any of this matter in civilian medicine?
In October 2013, a local U.S. hospital customer of ours called in a panic. They were users of our Thermal Angel blood and IV fluid warmer, and they had our Standard Battery, but someone hadn’t charged it since the last use. As a reminder, the Standard Battery takes many hours to charge if it is completely depleted. The hospital had just delivered a preemie baby that needed a blood infusion, and they wanted to know what they could do to get their Standard Battery charged quickly so that they could deliver warm fluids. Unfortunately, there is no way to speed up charging the Standard Battery because of the technology limitations. However, we had the Ultra Battery at our office!
My brother Brandon grabbed one of our Military Ultra Operations Modules, which includes the Ultra Battery and all of the charging options. He jumped in his truck and headed to the hospital, about 1 hour away. Brandon was able to fully charge the Ultra Battery while he was driving with his cigarette lighter port! Brandon got to the hospital in time for the patient and nurses. A testament of how military medical innovation filters down to civilian medicine.
A few months ago, we were at the SOMA Military Medicine Show in Florida. General Carlton came up to our booth, and told us he was looking for a better way to deliver oxygen to patients in the field. The challenge was size, weight, and pressurized oxygen tanks. Again, we took the push from General Carlton to come up with an innovation. In order to provide a solution, we just merged with another company, OxySure, and now we have a way to deliver medical grade oxygen that starts as a powder and comes in a small, portable, disposable form factor and requires no AC/DC or Battery at all. We can deliver oxygen from powder. The product is called the OxySure 615 Portable Oxygen System. Now we have an oxygen solution for the military, as well as civilian patients, that can be treated anywhere, regardless of power. This is also potentially useful for disaster response teams in the U.S. and abroad.
What the heck does all this have to do with Ebola?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when someone is suspected of showing Ebola symptoms “the following basic interventions, when used early, can significantly improve the chances of survival:
- Providing intravenous (IV) fluids and balancing electrolytes (body salts)
- Maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure
- Treating other infections if they occur”
Once again, it looks like military innovation is going to affect civilian lives.
The CDC mentions IV Fluid and Oxygen. In order to help, we have now combined our two products and created the “Ebola Intervention Kit” which is designed to provide caregivers two critical tools for the early treatment of Ebola patients or for anyone showing possible Ebola symptoms. The Ebola Intervention Kit (TA-OXYS-EIK) consists of the Thermal Angel Blood and IV Fluid Warmer and the OxySure 615 Portable Emergency Oxygen System.
For caregivers who wish to warm the IV fluids given to their patients, the “Ebola Intervention Kit” includes the U.S. Military’s Thermal Angel Ultra Operations Module, which provides a disposable Thermal Angel, an Ultra Battery, and all of the charging options for field use. The Thermal Angel allows the caregiver to warm the IV fluids given to the patient, in order to help prevent fluid induced hypothermia into an already stressed patient.
For caregivers who wish to provide emergency oxygen to their patients, the “Ebola Intervention Kit” includes the OxySure 615 Portable Oxygen System, which creates oxygen from powder, requiring no oxygen tanks or power and can be used in remote, undeveloped or rural situations. By combining the Thermal Angel fluid warmer and the OxySure emergency oxygen solution, caregivers now have access to a kit that requires no AC power and is portable, includes disposables that can be discarded, and is easy to use with simple instructions.
Military Medicine Drives Innovation.
I am relating these stories to help illustrate how important our military is to civilian medicine. Our company is a prime example of focused innovation to support the needs of the U.S. Military, and the filter-down effect of that innovation on civilian medicine.
Thank you U.S. Military. Your sacrifices and efforts have had effect beyond the battlefield.