There’s no question that most professionals working in the healthcare field consider themselves part of a broad community animated by a noble purpose. Just how much geographic territory that community covers is somewhat open to question. The innovators behind Lifebox want to help surgeons understand their community covers the entire planet.
“The Lifebox approach is really about looking at teamwork, not only inside the OR but globally,” explains Kris Torgeson, global CEO of Lifebox. “So our approach is about how healthcare professionals and surgical teams in particular work, which is making sure that they have each other’s back. When a surgeon goes into the OR, they know the nurses are there, they know the anesthetist is there, they’ve got a well-oiled system to make sure that everything is there for patient safety.”
Lifebox is a nonprofit organization that was created by several members of the World Health Organization (WHO) committee that developed the surgical safety checklist one decade ago. The sole piece of instrumentation on that checklist is the pulse oximeter, which is standard to most surgical suites. In some regions, neither resources nor conditions support traditional pulse oximeters.
Several of the checklist creators made it their mission to ensure a device optimized for the conditions of low-resource areas was readily available.
“So they formed Lifebox, both as a way of developing the right tool at the right price – the Lifebox pulse oximeter – and ensuring it reaches operating rooms,” Torgeson says.
Lifebox worked with medical device engineers to come up with a pulse oximeter that could be sold for only $250, including shipping costs. Thus far, approximately 20,000 Lifebox pulse oximeters have been delivered, reaching over 100 countries.
Looking to build on that success, Lifebox is partnering with precisioneffect, a company that specializes in healthcare branding creative campaigns. The hope is to reach more surgeons, helping them understand how they can support these vital humanitarian efforts.
“We know not everybody can go abroad to do international surgical missions, but this is an opportunity to work with Lifebox to help support improved surgical and anesthesia safety in other parts of the world,” says Torgeson. “Because we value very much that colleague-to -colleague approach, it’s why we’re really excited to launch this campaign which targets surgical professionals in the U.S. and elsewhere.”
In addition to the raised profile for Lifebox, the awareness campaign has the side effect of prompting doctors to see their own environment in a new light.
“Often we take for granted what we have in front of us,” says Deborah Lotterman, chief creative officer for precisioneffect and a Lifebox board member. “U.S healthcare providers generally have everything they need. This campaign is a reminder of the privilege we have and how well our system does work, how important that teamwork is. You don’t even think about it when it works so well.”
The Lifebox pulse oximeter continues to be distributed where it’s needed the most, often through collaborations with anesthesia society networks. By bringing needed technology to challenged regions, Lifebox aids skilled practitioners in effectively treating patients, an outcome which might be otherwise out of reach
“It can be poverty or living in a war zone or a lack of appropriate resources,” explains Lotterman. “These are the things that contribute to the surgery being unsafe in these countries. Globally, we have many highly trained and very passionate healthcare providers who are beset by these conditions. And it is that that makes surgery unsafe, not the surgeons or the anesthetists or the team.”
Surgeons and other healthcare professionals who want to learn how they can help can visit the Lifebox website for more information.
Main image: An anaesthesiologist in India using a Lifebox Pulse Oximeter to carefully keep an eye on a patient’s stats during surgery, 2018 (Lifebox/Ritesh Uttamchandani)