Blog Post

February 5, 2013 Garrett Spiegel

D-Rev on the Ground: The Rise of the Micro-Hospital

Street view

Life and economies are constantly evolving, especially in the low-income areas where D-Rev focuses its work, places where agility is critical for survival.

Most medical devices today, however, are designed for Western hospitals—places that are large, well-powered, elevator-serviced, and reliably able to provide good, if not great, healthcare. But that’s not reality in most of the world.

At D-Rev, we’re seeing something in our ongoing fieldwork that’s surprisingly under-discussed in global health and medical device communities: the increase in rural roadside private hospitals. These medical facilities—Krista, our CEO, has nicknamed them “micro-hospitals”—are exactly what they sound like: small destinations that provide local hospital-level care, usually in urban and peri-urban areas. Services offered can include emergency treatment, antenatal care, basic check-ups and vaccines.

If the micro-hospital has a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), it is probably small: no more than 10 by 4 feet in size. Standard NICU medical devices, when these micro-hospitals can afford them, are out of context in these settings. They’re oversized and bulky, too big for these small rooms. Nurses struggle to move around them, sometimes squeezing into tight spaces simply to plug in a power cord. Even when things are “plugged in,” power is rarely reliable. Access to electricity often falls as low as 8-16 hours a day in many locations.

When we visit these hospitals—such as the one shown in this recent photo taken Ghaziabad, India—we ask: Is anyone thinking about these micro-hospitals when they design products? If a well-intended product is rendered impractical or even worthless by market realities, its impact can actually be more negative than no product at all—and these are the most vulnerable populations in the world.

Micro-hospitals are emerging and proliferating in India and in other countries with large low-income populations. Many times they are across the street or around the corner from a large public clinic that is supposed to treat patients for free but simply lacks resources or funds to provide care beyond vaccines. Our research shows that even families well below local poverty lines are paying out-of-pocket for this type of private care. It’s critical that these facilities have access to affordable, appropriate medical devices designed to function with market realities in mind.

D-Rev is building for the evolving societies, lives, and economies emerging in today’s global reality. In our view, there is no other way.

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