Royal Philips, Amsterdam, has developed an add-on device for conventional neonatal bag-valve-mask (BVM) resuscitators that helps caregivers to effectively resuscitate asphyxiated newborn babies, dubbed the ‘Augmented Infant Resuscitator (AIR).

Developed in collaboration with the Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies (CAMTech) at Massachusetts General Hospital Global Health in Boston, the Philips AIR is designed to reduce neonatal mortality, especially in parts of the world that are underserved in terms of healthcare. It is expected to be available in limited volume in selected markets prior to scaling up availability in low- and middle-income countries.

Moreover, the AIR device is an add-on that is compatible with most existing manual BVM resuscitators, and also has the potential to significantly improve the initial training and ongoing practice of BVM resuscitation skills. The device measures ventilation flow and pressure to monitor the quality of ventilation, and provides visual feedback on common ventilation errors, including inadequate face-mask seal, obstructed airway, incorrect ventilation rate, and harsh breaths that can damage the baby’s airways. Anyone of these mistakes may result in death or permanent neurological injury. The AIR also records performance for future feedback, improving the training of healthcare professionals by identifying persistent gaps in technique.

“At Philips, we aim to improve people’s health through meaningful innovations,” says Arman Voskerchyan, business leader, therapeutic care, for Philips. “Our mission is to improve the lives of three billion people a year by 2025. By combining our expertise in respiratory care and resuscitation with the strengths of global health innovators like the AIR team at CAMTech, we aim to drive and scale innovative solutions that bridge societal divides in healthcare to reach underserved populations, and thereby addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3.”

Kristian Olson, MD, director of CAMTech at Massachusetts General Hospital Global Health, Dr. Data Santorino, CAMTech Uganda Country Manager, and Kevin Cedrone, Ph.D., a lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, created the AIR device prototype was created in 2012 at a CAMTech Hack-a-thon with MIT at Massachusetts General Hospital.

After receiving an initial grant from CAMTech in early 2013, further development and testing of the AIR device was supported by Saving Lives at Birth (SLAB) – A Grand Challenge for Development partners. In late 2016, the AIR team completed a multi-center randomized trial of 270 birth attendants in both Uganda and the U.S., details of which will be presented in a future publication.

Since then, Philips and the AIR team have further developed the device. Philips recently obtained a license for the relevant intellectual property owned by Partners Healthcare and Mbarara University of Science and Technology, to commercialize and scale the AIR device. CAMTech will continue to gather new impact, usability and cost-effectiveness data through a multi-country trial in India, Uganda, and Ghana, for which Philips will provide CAMTech with more than 200 engineering samples.