Temperature measurement is, of course, critical to diagnosis and treatment in any health setting. In many homes and health clinics getting an order of magnitude on a fever or on whether a child is too cold is not a readily accessible measurement. That is why some 20 years ago Dr. John Zeal set about with Dr. Morley to create an easy to use liquid crystal stick-on thermoindicator, the ThermoSpot.
Phase 1: Research into innovations/ work with the founding team
Maternova stepped into the mix about 9 years ago, developing a strong relationship with the entrepreneur, who was by this point well into his 80s. His passion for the ThermoSpot shone in every interaction. Dr. Zeal came from a family whose business was in thermometry, but through his friendship with Dr. Morley had come to find out about the need for an easy to read thermoindicator. for child health in low resource settings.
The Maternova team spent a long time building trust and working with the ThermoSpot team to develop a plan to enhance the marketing and distribution of the ThermoSpot--too many infants were suffering from hypothermia, and too few countries knew about this innovation. We created new materials, logos, a clearer explanations of the beautiful simplicity of the product and translated materials into multiple languages. Ironically, the ThermoSpot is 'old' by innovation standards-- too old to be considered for any Saving Lives at Birth awards-- yet still, core temperature measurement is still not accessible in many settings.
Phase 2: Marketing and distribution of key technologies.
Maternova helped the team register the device on a WHO 'innovative technologies' publication and John Zeal presented by video to a WHO session . We also worked to introduce the ThermoSpot to teams in India, Tanzania, Haiti, Kenya, Honduras, the Philippines and beyond. In some cases this meant sending free samples to get demand started, in other cases, we built a case for the device by showing the peer reviewed studies and data surrounding its use. The ThermoSpots have been now used in large field studies in Pakistan and Kenya run by the Hospital for Sick Kids Canada. They have been used to measure hypothermia in low-income kids in Great Britain and newborn babies in Washington D.C. Often, our early pilot studies seed interest from larger groups, including governments. Eventually the products become part of government tenders and are paid for by the governments and distributed in country throughout the health system.
Phase 3: Ongoing Feedback from the Field
Beyond introducing the simple device, we asked for detailed feedback on 'ease of use,' 'length of time spent training,' 'feedback from families' and improvements that could be made. This week we are sharing photos and videos of the device in use in India. The videos show how rapidly the ThermoSpot turns to green (normal) on the great vessels of an infant's neck.
And as a result of ongoing feedback from the field we are working with a team in Nigeria on an enhanced version of the ThermoSpot which will better alert families to degrees of FEVER as well as hypothermia.
Nine years later we are not yet close to finishing the story of our engagement with this brilliant little device.
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