Masimo has been awarded a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) grant of $4.95 million to develop a low-cost pulse oximeter as a screening device for pneumonia to be used in underprivileged regions of the world. The grant was announced just before World Pneumonia Day Nov. 12.
The device, Masimo Signal Extraction Technology (SET): Measure-through Motion and Low Perfusion, is still under development, but it was designed to measure oxygen saturation and respiration rate – two key parameters that can provide additional information to medical professionals while screening for pneumonia in underserved settings.
The grant will also support the study of the device’s user-friendliness and fitness, and may pay for the creation of educational materials to promote proper training and use of the device for all literacy levels.
Masimo SET pulse oximetry is used to monitor millions of people around the world already, but it’s too expensive for some healthcare systems. This project aims to reduce the high global burden of pneumonia by bringing proven patient screening and monitoring technology closer to patients that need it most.
“We hope to bring a much-needed screening tool to areas of the world blighted by countless needless deaths that are due to an illness considered low-risk in the developed world,” Joe Kiani, founder and CEO of Masimo, said in a press release.
Pneumonia is still the world’s largest life-threatening treatable infection in children, particularly in poorer regions, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which is sponsoring an international study to find best practices and ways to enhance community management of pneumonia treatment.
Enhanced patient screening is critical to reduce the global burden of pneumonia and to help healthcare providers make more informed decisions.
In a study funded by the BMGF Diagnostics Modelling Consortium, it was found that in regions where supplemental oxygen is available, the addition of pulse oximetry to standard integrated management of pediatric disease protocol could help reduce mortality rates.
“We are excited to partner with Masimo for the purpose of improving screening for pneumonia to allow improved referral decisions by health workers in low-resource settings, said Rasa Izadnegahdar, BMGF’s senior program officer on the pneumonia team.
“Evaluating a child for fast breathing is the cornerstone of pneumonia assessment and combining this with a reliable and effective approach to assessing oxygen saturation can have significant impact in ensuring children with pneumonia receive appropriate care,” she said.
“Our landscape review of pneumonia diagnostic aid technologies has clearly demonstrated the poor performance of existing diagnostic aids, particularly respiratory rate timers,” Izadnegahdar added. “Diagnostic aids with improved sensitivity and specificity that are adapted and designed for use by health workers and caregivers can make a significant impact on pneumonia treatment.”
She said BMGF Diagnostics is looking forward to working with Masimo to adapt their precise technology “to respond to the needs of health workers, caregivers, and children in countries where pneumonia burden and deaths remain unacceptably high.”