The Journey of a Good Product

The Journey of a Good Product

The Journey of a Good Product

I have been asked to share the process of how my idea of a conventional medical mask to be transformed into a mask that allows for enhanced communication.  If you read my earlier blog, you probably remember that I needed to have an emergency C-section. There was no prep work for a C-section in terms of getting an interpreter, FM loop, white boards to write on, or reading up on what to expect with a Cesarean section.

Imagining multiple scenarios in which crucial information from me might be needed, I realized that I could not understand what the medical personnel in the OR were saying to each other or to me.  Being in that situation was most unsettling for me; and, I begin to think about ALL the other people who experienced what I was experiencing. The situation was not the only option; there was a better way: a mask where I could lipread others.

So, step one on the journey was realizing there was NOT a transparent face mask available.  I then set out on what I thought was the FIRST mask with a clear window. But, after seeking legal counsel, I realized I was not the first person to think of a mask with a clear window; but, maybe I could be the first person to help bring a transparent face mask to market.

The second step was to locate a manufacturer. I am a college professor by training; I was not interested in the learning curve of opening up a manufacturing plant and producing a single product. I had the good fortune of connecting with a US-based manufacturer, Prestige-Ameritech. The people at Prestige-Ameritech knew the mask business well and they also had a heart for my story about being in the hospital and not being able to lipread my medical providers.  They knew there was pent-up demand for such a product and said they would work with me to bring this product to market.

Step three was letting Prestige-Ameritech do what they do best; the R&D needed to get The Communicator mask with a clear window through the FDA process. They worked with me to include as many features as they could. Prestige-Ameritech is the only American mask manufacturer that has manufacturing plant facilities solely in the USA.

The fourth was more about educating both the consumers and patient populations that would know first-hand the value of a mask with a clear window as well as the hospitals and clinics. Honestly, the consumers and patients LOVE the idea of The Communicator; but, they are not the decision-makers or buyers of hospital supplies. The medical staff in speech-language pathology, audiology, obstetrics/gynecology, surgery, endodentistry, and ear-nose-throat specialties liked the idea of a mask that would allow them to keep protection on while their patients understood what they were saying but, like patients, they rarely are the decision-makers or buyers of supplies. Oftentimes, medical facilities have Purchasing Departments who utilize established Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) and these people may not be as familiar with the value of such a unique and innovative product. Hence, my work has been trying to connect with GPOs or locating champions within the patient community or the medical community to get hospitals to stock The Communicator mask with a clear window.

Step five in my journey has been to learn to listen. Listen to people who say I will not succeed, to people who congratulate me on this hard-earned achievement; but, more importantly to listen to myself and remember the goal of why this journey has been put before me.  At the end of the day, I am a college professor who teaches concepts and theories about communication, how communication works, and how to use critical thinking skills to problem-solve communication breakdowns and impasses. I saw a communication problem and I knew there was a simple solution that would solve the problem and in the process of doing so, greatly enhance the communication encounter for everyone involved.

That is my journey on why Safe’N’Clear is changing the face of healthcare.

Dr. Anne McIntosh – President, Safe’N’Clear