To help address the burden of childhood asthma in developing countries, Respira Design created an asthma spacer that was produced from a single sheet of paper. The device could ship and store flat and then be transformed into a usable spacer through a series of cuts and folds. It won numerous awards for its inventive design and was lauded for its simplicity and effectiveness over other low-cost solutions.
However, because the Respira “spacemask” was a medical device, it was necessary to test the extent to which it impacted the delivery of medication and how many uses each spacer could sustain. The team also needed to study the circumstances in which the device would perform successfully, including whether it would function as intended in situations of emergency or distress. To conduct the necessary tests, Respira needed substantial funding; unfortunately, the team quickly discovered that potential donors and investors wanted to see clinical data showing that the device worked before making a sizable financial commitment. This mini-case study looks at how the Respira team addressed this quandary and the key factors that affected its decision.
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 Eric Green, Santiago Ocejo, and Barry Wohl of Respira Design for their participation. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health grant 1 RC4 TW008781-01.