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We hit a Wall

This week we hit a wall. After a good run with 10 unique interviewees, we ran dry. Our interviewees from the first two weeks gave us some really good contacts that we were really excited to get to speak with but none of them got back to our requests. With regards to the device, we have been asked on specifics like the pressure output of SurgeCare and we really don’t have an answer. To address that, we endeavour to build the *improved* one-bucket version of SurgeCare on our own and determine its pressure output. However, we are hit with another dilemma — how do we ensure the proper standards while making our device ‘open-source’? That is, how do we ensure that with just our blueprint, the medical facilities in low-resource countries are able to replicate our results to an acceptable level using the resources available to them?

A wall with no interviews

With our Calendars empty of upcoming interviews, we have decided to expand our scope of network. Our original leads and interviewees have led to a dead end and we have decided that it is time to EXPAND. This week, we have reached out to UCSF Sterile Processing Department (SPD) and Lifebox. While we are still waiting for UCSF SPD to get back to us, Athena has made an exciting breakthrough with Lifebox. She took a chance and called Lifebox and to all our surprise the CEO of Lifebox, Kris Torgeson picked up and left her email for us to follow up with her. On top of that, we also figured it would be a good idea to go back to some of our past contacts to follow up with new information we have uncovered through our research.

Kris Torgeson — Screen capture from LifeBox’s website (

We first got to know about LifeBox from Christina who runs SPECT, a non-profit focused on educating and elevating sterilization standards in low-resource regions (Read about our interview). LifeBox is the “only NGO dedicated to making surgery and anesthesia safer”. We see LifeBox as a potential partner that can offer us with valuable information because we have the parallel vision of reducing surgical site infections (SSIs). As LifeBox’s work revolves around low-resource clinical settings and is rooted in the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist, we believe we can discover how we can best reach out to these communities and improve our device to international standards. We look forward to speaking with Kris, CEO of LifeBox.

Core Pillars of Safer Surgery — Image from LifeBox

Without specific metrics, particularly the output water pressure from our device, we felt that we were sitting on an assumption and were unable to confidently respond to queries which relates to SurgeCare’s efficacy from the people we were contacting. We know SurgeCare works. Tatiana’s team which developed this project before we took over had results that showed that SurgeCare leads to an improvement in sterilization over the ‘3-bucket method’ that is commonly used in low-resource countries. Their team also won 2nd prize at Big Ideas Global Health and the Jacobs Innovation Catalyst Grant. However, we feel that knowing the shortcomings of the design through building it ourselves and also experimenting with factors not tested by the original team will help us approach our goals more confidently.

3-bucket method — image from SurgeCare research paper, credits to LifeBox

So yes, we are building SurgeCare 2.0 — one-bucket edition +more . Bryan already has all the parts purchased, and we are just waiting on Amazon to ship it. More to come once that happens this Sunday. Among the tests we are doing are measuring water quality, testing filtration, and quantifying water output pressure.

Top: SurgeCare 1.0; Bottom: SurgeCare 2.0 one-bucket edition

Lastly, we are working on our Customer Ecosystem Map as part of Lean Launchpad (LLP) this week, which will help us have an overview of the different relationships we have with our stakeholders. For our purposes, the stakeholders are not actual paying customers but nonetheless the ecosystem map helps us map out the relationship and incentives to have with each party in order to get the whole system running, and our ideas out to those that need it.




Summer Biodesign Immersion Experience at UC Berkeley Bioengineering

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Kim Hwang Yeo

Kim Hwang Yeo

Berkeley Bioengineer (B.S.) ’22 | BioDesign Immersion Program, Engineering World Health Summer Exchange (2021) |

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