Frugal Medical Technologies and Adaptive Solutions: Field-Based Applications

  • Krish W. Ramadurai
  • Sujata K. Bhatia
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Bioengineering book series (BRIEFSBIOENG)


In our previous chapter, we explore the various innovation processes that comprise frugal innovation as well as novel innovation paradigms including open and reverse innovation. Importantly, we not only define the theoretical dimensions of these innovation processes but also the functional outputs in the form of tangible technologies/devices. But while the intellectual components of these processes are critical, what does this mean for the future of humanitarian medicine and innovation? The fact of the matter is that the deployment of innovation processes in conflict and crisis situations will likely consist of an amalgam of these processes that is utilized as a catalyst for high-functioning problem-solving in the field. The reality is that crisis and conflict situations are not black and white; thus the solutions developed in the field are likely to reflect this. This is where we examine the field-based applications of these technologies and their specific capacities to preserve human life. But before we delve into these medical devices, who are these devices meant for? There are three critical stakeholders in any humanitarian healthcare operation: humanitarian practitioners (i.e., doctors, nurses, aides, relief workers), community health workers (i.e., frontline public health workers from indigenous communities), and crisis-stricken communities themselves. While the scope and capacity to utilize devices varies among these groups, nonetheless, it is vital that each one of these stakeholders be properly retrofitted with the most basic of equipment, technology, and devices. In this book we take this a step further and examine how we can not only enhance the retrofitting of humanitarian operators but also their respective problem-solving and innovation processes to create “adaptive solutions.” We define these as high-utility, unconventional solutions that are derived in resource-poor settings. The reality is that while we can provide frugal devices to individuals, how do we stimulate continued innovation and the implementation of adaptive solutions on the ground? The innovation process is just as important as the device itself—a paradigm that is often overlooked.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Krish W. Ramadurai
    • 1
  • Sujata K. Bhatia
    • 2
  1. 1.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Chemical & Biomolecular EngineeringUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

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