VentFlow is a safe and accessible equipment to treat COVID-19
Developing countries across the world struggle to find medical equipment such as ventilators to treat patients with COVID-19. These devices are often expensive and difficult to import, and according to the WHO (World Health Organization), about 70% of them malfunction when they get to these countries. Additional problems such as lack of maintenance and no consideration for the local supply chain are also major factors for limited access to ventilators.
We are excited to announce a new pulmonary ventilator that aims to provide a more adequate solution to tackle this issue: VentFlow is an accessible and viable alternative, designed according to the geographic, human, and economic characteristics of Brazil, all while following the WHO’s “4As” principles: Availability, Affordability, Adoption, and Appropriate Use.
Usually, this type of medical equipment is highly sophisticated, expensive, and takes up to 3 years to get to the market. VentFlow was conceived in only 35 days as an immediate response to the current crisis and has already been presented to Brazil’s Health Ministry. In the beginning of May 2020, we are awaiting certification by Anvisa (Brazil’s health regulation agency, equivalent to the FDA), enabling its production.
In order to avoid supply chain challenges and expensive or proprietary components, VentFlow uses accessible parts that are readily available in established supply chains.
We expect to have the first 400 units by the end of May and 5000 more by June. Initially, production will be made by medical equipment company Fanem with electronic components provided by Gertec. Production is expected to increase since the technology can be easily assembled and licensed by other producers’ partners to meet the growing demand. It can be adapted to any region, serving mainly countries with development structures like Brazil.
VentFlow: an exercise in agile innovation
It was very important to develop this pulmonary ventilator to meet today’s demand and unique needs in the midst of a pandemic. Levi Girardi, one of the spokespersons for the initiative and CEO of Questtonó, explaining the core requirements: simplified usability (considering that most health workers are not used to operating even the most conventional ventilators), streamlined production, accessibly priced, and most importantly, medical grade.
As many ventilator prototypes are being released in the past few months all across the world, it is known that this type of medical equipment has to meet safety requirements set by national regulatory agencies. To meet this demand, we counted on Questtonó’s 27 years of experience working with the healthcare industry, including the design of one of Brazil’s most widely used ventilators. Additionally, the direct participation of specialists on the project such as engineer Jorge Bonassa, one of Brazil’s most influential specialists in mechanical ventilation and Dr. Luiz Fernando Falcão, a mechanical ventilation and pulmonary physiology researcher at the Federal University of São Paulo’s (Unifesp) Medicine Department.
The estimated total cost of the ventilator, considering the product’s complete life cycle (such as production, research and development, technical assistance, amongst others), is approximately $1500-2200 USD making it 5x times cheaper than the traditional ventilators.
VentFlow’s creation process was guided by a systemic design approach, capable of redefining complete systems with agile and complex solutions. This approach allowed the group to coordinate different disciplines and stakeholders in a very efficient way.
The project is a collaborative initiative between the innovation and design consultancy Questtonó, alongside Brazilians engineer Jorge Bonassa and doctor Luiz Fernando Falcão, and a network of over 30 professionals and specialists from varied relevant medicine institutions in Brazil.