Engineering World Health (EWH) is an organization that promotes the introduction of health care technologies in developing countries. One of the ways this organization approaches the general goal of improving health care within these communities is through addressing their most pertinent needs with appropriately designed technological equipment. One of these pertinent needs is a non electronic method of taking blood pressure measurements without a stethoscope.
As a group within Biomedical Engineering at Stony Brook University we are dedicated to work that is aligned with the goals of EWH. Our expertise can be instrumental in developing practical solutions for a variety of health issues faced by organizations such as EWH.
Objective: EWH desires a non-electronic blood pressure assist device that will aid in the diagnosis of hypertension in patients. Ideally, this device is to be a mechanical adjunct adaptable to any existing sphygmomanometer.
In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 16.7 million, or 29.2% of total global deaths were due to cardiovascular diseases. At the end of this current year, the WHO predicts that the leading cause of death in developing countries will also be due to such diseases. Cardiovascular maladies arise from many causes, one of which is hypertension. The current methods of diagnosing potentially hypertensive patients in underdeveloped nations are highly unreliable. The scarcity of electricity and the variability of blood pressure readings amongst hospital personnel indicate the necessity of a non-electronic device that will eliminate the need to train workers to identify Korotkoff sounds (heart sounds) via a stethoscope. By removing this source of variability, diagnostic capabilities become enhanced when detecting for hypertension by allowing for a more accurate blood pressure reading. In turn, treatment options are identified earlier and optimized to ensure the prolongation of the hypertensive patient’s life.
Market Need, Potential, and Strategic Fit
EWH is a non profit organization; the market in need of a non electronic blood pressure assist device cannot afford an expensive device. Therefore, although the need is pervasive throughout the developing world with a high impact potential, the potential for profit is low.
There are currently a variety of electronic blood pressure assist devices on the market. There are even automatic devices that only require the user to push a button to obtain a blood pressure readout. There are also a variety of stethoscopes, some very specialized to a particular physiological system. However, there are no devices currently available that are capable of fulfilling the need expressed by EWH. Since the use of advanced technology is not a requirement, we have concluded that the introduction of such a device into today’s market is not only appropriate, but also achievable.