D-Rev CEO: We Build Medical Devices for People who Live on Less than $4 a Day

Friday, May 15, 2015

Most medical equipment companies don’t regularly top “most innovative” lists.

But D-Rev isn’t your typical medical device maker. The San Francisco-based non-profit wants to help the world’s poorest individuals, who subsist on less than a few dollars per day. Its products include an $80 prosthetic knee and a phototherapy device to treat infants with jaundice.

[Skip to the bottom of the article to watch a TED talk on the $80 ReMotion knee.]

What’s unique about D-Rev is its approach to research. The company sends its small team of designers into the field — whether it’s a rural village in India or a remote hospital in Uganda — to conduct interviews with patients, doctors and nurses.

During a recent conversation with a doctor based in rural India, D-Rev employees learned that many babies were dying of jaundice. The treatment devices were too expensive to maintain. The team brainstormed low-cost solutions and came up with Brilliance, a photo-therapy lamp that sells for $400, a fraction of the cost of its mainstream competitors.

KQED sat down with Krista Donaldson, the company’s chief executive, to discuss the ongoing challenges of running a medical non-profit and the opportunities for the future. Donaldson shared that D-Rev is considering a move into the U.S. market to help those in need closer to home.

This interview has been condensed and edited for brevity.

In the past few years, D-Rev seems to have exploded in the media. When did the company get its start?

It was started in 2008 as a skunk-works of technology for the developing world. I was brought in because a lot of the products were in stages of prototyping and weren’t reaching users. I cancelled most of the projects and focused our attention on people who are living on less than $4 a day. Our core mission is to close the gap in quality health care by focusing on delivery and design.

Source: KQED (link opens in a new window)

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