In developing countries’ primary health clinics, 5-30% of patients become infected post surgery because of unsterile medical tools. Autoclaves do not get used at these locations because electricity is not available and maintenance is too costly—leading to many infections that OttoClave can avert. Requirements for sterilization, 121°C at 203 kPa for 20 min, can be achieved by a pressure cooker. By revamping this household good, Ottoclave removes the dependency on electricity, greatly expanding the impact range. Utilizing a simple pressure sensor that plugs into our cycle monitor, rural health post employees receive spoken, step-by-step instructions on sterilization procedures in the local language, and assurance that sterilization was successful. Additionally, OttoClave utilizes an internal sms-enabled data log to upload usage information in real time to OttoCloud. This objective data can be monitored by purchasing agencies to track usage and reduce response times for repairs.
An innovative autoclave for better infection control is not as attractive as a new malaria vaccine or a TB drug; nonetheless, this is a problem billions of people in developing countries unknowingly face during childbirth and during simple surgical procedures at their local health clinics. The team is driven to improve healthcare access globally by providing an elegant, simple solution that can achieve scalable and sustainable impact.
Witnessing the extremes to which people went through to access healthcare in rural Nepal, even though problems could be exacerbated because of improper sterilization techniques has been the team’s greatest motivation. Traveling with Nepali students who helped bridge cultural barriers also revealed the severity and magnitude of suffering endured by people. Hearing first hand from nurses about the decrease in infection rates post OttoClave and our desire to better design and implement innovations in developing countries motivates our drive for success.
The OttoClave team’s design philosophy emphasizes user-centric design, commercial viability in developing markets, and sustainable impact. By taking a holistic approach to the issue of instrument sterilization, OttoClave developed a product designed around changing behavioral patterns and cultural considerations from end-users in the field. OttoClave’s cycle monitor addresses the issues of sustained behavioral change through oral education, usability and providing immediate feedback of success or failure of the task.
After initial concept testing to see if a pressure cooker can operate as an autoclave, the team employed rapid prototyping techniques to test numerous mock ups for the pressure sensor and the cycle monitor for 3 months. 17 prototypes were trialed in Nepal for 6 months. 4 beta prototypes were developed with feedback from all stakeholders and were trialed for 3 months. Currently the team is working on finalizing the design for a commercial product.