Having a higher demand for a product than a company can keep up with is a good problem to have, Jay Lopez, president of Estill Medical Technologies (Dallas), admitted to Medical Device Daily. But for Estill it's also a frustrating problem to have, he said, because it means the company is not able to help as many people as it would like with its Thermal Angel blood and IV infusion warmer – a device that has been especially popular on the battlefield.
"We've never done any sales or marketing because we have not been able to keep up with the demands of the military so we've kept our heads down trying to keep up," Lopez said. "[But] now that we have our factory running full speed and we're able to supply the military with what they're asking for ... we can start accepting orders from the 93 countries that have contacted us."
Estill reported this week that it is expanding its Thermal Angel sales and marketing efforts. The device is designed to reduce the chance of mortality by quickly controlling core body temperature and infection risk, the company noted.
According to Estill, the Thermal Angel is crucial to critical care administration. In emergency medicine, the "golden hour" refers to the first 60 minutes after the occurrence of a multi-system trauma. It is widely believed that the victim's survival chances are greatest if they receive definitive care within this first hour of injury, the company said.
"We got picked up by the military a few years ago and they're very aggressive about trying to find ways to push the care as far forward as possible so they can give patients care in that golden hour," Lopez told MDD.
The Thermal Angel is portable, battery-powered, and disposable. It warms IV fluid and blood and is capable of initiating intravenous application within 45 seconds, according to Estill. It also prevents fluid-induced hypothermia, which can create numerous life-threatening conditions, the company said.
"What is exciting for groups like the military is if they can start dealing with the patient during the golden hour they can reduce mortality dramatically," Lopez said. He added that the Thermal Angel is able to move with the patient through various stations of care.
The Thermal Angel's mission is two-fold: to sustain life and to bring troops home safely. Trauma situations require immediate attention and should be focused on patient care, not on managing complex equipment, the company said.
"Due to its portable and adaptive nature," Lopez said, "we've had 93 countries request the Thermal Angel, but our primary focus has been to provide supplies for our military troops."
According to Estill, the Thermal Angel is cost efficient and requires minimal time for charging and operation, making it ideal for combat medics to use.
"The Thermal Angel blood and IV infusion warmer is an excellent piece of medical equipment; it's essential to our deployment packing list," a platoon medic with the U.S. Army Ranger Regiment said in a statement. "It's compact, lightweight, and easy to use."
The device is disposable by design, Lopez said, so that medics don't have to worry about cleaning or sterilizing the device in the field. He said the company is finding that as these medics return to civilian life after having served in the military they go back to their EMS or hospital job and don't have the Thermal Angel so they place an order.
"As a result of the success our military has had using the Thermal Angel in medical field kits, on Black Hawk helicopters, and in ground vehicles, we are finding more civilian advanced life support agencies and hospitals accelerating adoption of the Thermal Angel for their trauma and surgery patients," Lopez said.
For the same amount of money as an older style blood and fluid monitor, Lopez said a hospital could buy "multiple dozens" of Thermal Angels.
Lopez said "the hospitals are starting to ask the EMS providers to deliver the patient with a Thermal Angel already on them ... there's kind of a one plus one equals three effect if you can deploy the Thermal Angel in multiple areas on the far forward areas of care ..."
The company is motivated by the positive testimonials it has received from customers.
"It's fun; we're making a difference," he said.