Cambridge Consultants’ Ekano to Better Surgical Procedures in India
Laparoscopy systems enable surgeons to perform minimally invasive surgery via small incisions in the abdomen– reducing patient risk, complications and recovery time. But all these sophisticated equipments designed for developed markets are expensive which are practically not viable for mid-tier and rural hospitals in India which are overcrowded and understaffed, and struggle with limited infrastructure. In a bid to address these issues, a product design and development firm Cambridge Consultants has come up with the Ekano concept, aimed particularly at laparoscopic surgeons in mid-tier and rural hospitals in countries such as India and China.
A low-cost, portable surgical system the size of a small suitcase , the Ekano concept is tailored to address the unmet needs of surgeons in India. It was developed in Cambridge Consultants’ in-house simulated operating theatre, driven by insights gained from in-depth research in Indian hospitals. A team of the company’s product development and human factors engineers visited mid-tier and rural hospitals to observe surgical procedures and interview surgeons, nurses and hospital executives to identify unmet needs and innovation opportunities.
“We collaborated with surgeons and hospitals in India to drive product feature decisions, with the aim of preserving clinical functionality, improving usability and reducing the cost of ownership. With the cost expected to be around a quarter of existing systems, Ekano can be owned by a surgeon rather than bought by a hospital – complementing the existing business model in India of surgeon consultants owning their own practices and rotating around hospitals on a daily basis” said Mr Rahul Sathe, Head of surgical innovation for emerging markets at Cambridge Consultants.
The Ekano console is self-contained and portable – and can be mounted on an IV pole to take up less space in the operating theatre. Size and cost are reduced by incorporating only the product features that are necessary for it to be clinically functional. For example, surgical planning, outcomes tracking and EMR systems are rare in mid-tier hospitals in emerging markets. So, rather than using a complex electronic data management system that takes up significant space, Ekano creates a WiFi hotspot to provide a local EMR for the surgical team. Surgeons can then upload pre-operative images via their phone to enable surgical planning with their team – and share data via WhatsApp and other mobile platforms to collaborate with colleagues on challenging cases.
Ekano also takes a different approach to visualizing anatomy. Rather than using expensive three-chip camera sensors, the camera system consists of a single-chip sensor that uses optical filtering and image processing to provide an optically comparable image at significantly lower cost. Ekano also replaces the traditional large, expensive xenon light sources that need frequent maintenance with a small, compact, LED array to achieve bright yet portable illumination.
“Needs-driven innovation is key to unlocking business opportunities and advancing surgical care in emerging markets. Countries like India and China offer unprecedented scope for the surgical device industry to deliver quality, affordable care to under served patients. The Ekano concept demonstrates how the combination of portability, durability, usability and low cost of ownership can disrupt how surgical care is delivered to under served patient populations” further stressed Rahul.