After observing too many unnecessary injuries and deaths caused by surgeries that were interrupted or canceled due to the unavailability of anesthesia, Dr. Paul Fenton designed a device called the Universal Anaesthesia Machine (UAM) that could deliver safe, reliable anesthesia even in the midst of a power outage. Gradian Health Systems was established as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Nick Simons Foundation to disseminate the UAM. Gradian would operate as a nonprofit, selling the UAM at its manufacturing cost so that sales and production of the device would become self-sustaining and scalable within several years. Philanthropic funding from the Foundation would be used to underwrite the cost of end-user training at installation and a full after-sales service program.
One of the organization’s early challenges was determining how to position and market the UAM to four distinct but interconnected stakeholder groups: users, hospitals, ministries of health, and donor organizations. Gradian had managed to get sales of the UAM off the ground mostly through referrals, but the team did not consider this to be a sustainable approach. This mini-case study looks at how Gradian developed a comprehensive marketing strategy for stimulating UAM adoption.
This story is part of the Global Health Innovation Insight Series developed at Stanford University to shed light on the challenges that global health innovators face as they seek to develop and implement new products and services that address needs in resource-constrained settings.
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Erica Frenkel of Gradian for her participation. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health grant 1 RC4 TW008781-01.