What is the most significant risk health workers face while tending to the sick? Exposure and infection.
What is the biggest problem for hospitalized patients? Bodily comfort while receiving treatment.
These two seemingly unconnected aspects of healthcare are, in fact, connected by one common factor – healthcare clothing. The scrubs and lapover gowns (or patient garments) are made of a fabric that is neither comfortable nor proven to be effective as anti-microbial. Being the first line of defense against infections for the health workers and the only piece of the garment covering a patient’s body, this fabric has high expectations to meet, which it has been failing to do…up until now.
Thermaissance is revolutionizing the antimicrobial clothing sphere in the MedTech industry today.
Mr. Manish Raval and Ms. Hemali Sangani, the founders, set out to change this aspect of healthcare by incepting Thermaissance, a medical textile producer with a fabric that breaks all the industry benchmarks with a stellar performance, aeons ahead of its competitors.
During the dialysis procedure of Manish’s father, Hemali and Manish realized that medical procedures cause significant discomfort to patients in the form of shivers, sweating, hot flashes, and skin problems. It was here that they decided that things needed to change.
“Thermaissance,” a portmanteau of Thermal and Renaissance, was thus birthed as a textile manufacturer in the healthcare industry with two primary aims:
- To reduce the spread of infections by creating antimicrobial textiles
- To enable better thermal regulation of body heat in the patients wearing Thermaissance clothing
An in-depth interview with the founders, Mr. Manish Raval and Ms. Hemali Sangani, revealed many interesting insights into the journey of this start-up.
The Problem Statement
Manish and Hemali set out to speak first-hand with various hospitals, governmental bodies, staff, and other stakeholders in the entire ecosystem of healthcare. As they did, the gap between existing healthcare clothing and the actual, real-world needs became evident.
Over the course of time, they identified two major problems with the existing healthcare textiles in the industry:
- The first problem was the efficacy of the textile. While the existing scrubs and accessories did achieve lab-efficacy on antimicrobial testing, they weren’t effective in the real-world scenario
- The second problem identified was the durability of the antimicrobial coating used on textiles. The existing fabrics lost their pathogenic resistance after 10 to 15 washes, which wasn’t cost-effective
After detailed research and discussions with the people in healthcare – including the patients – Manish and Hemali discovered four major customer problems:
- Thermal regulation was a significant issue with existing medical clothing for the patients. They would experience frequent hot flashes, cold shivers, or excessive sweating
- Pathogenic contamination on PPE kits and scrubs was increasing the risk of spreading infections around
- The recent upsurge in the use of PPE kits has caused excessive sweating in the wearer, leading to problems like dermatitis/skin rash and weight loss
- The use of disposable medical textiles (gloves, caps, PPE kits) was contributing to carbon emissions (medical waste needs to be incinerated), and Manish found this to be environmentally irresponsible
Hemali and Manish felt that a skin-friendly fabric was needed and could aid the body in maintaining optimum temperature, making the life of the wearer more comfortable, and protecting the health care workers from infections, in addition to not being a burden to the environment.
The Approach to Creating a Solution
The crux of Hemali and Manish’s research boiled down to one statement: the country’s healthcare professionals were consistently exposed to resistant microbes (such as E.coli and MRSA) that the existing medical textiles didn’t have the potential to neutralize; additionally, it made the patients experience massive discomfort that was avoidable. These facts became the cornerstone of their innovations.
With that in mind, Thermaissance set in motion an iterative process to create a fabric that could handle gram-positive and gram-negative microbes both, in addition to being effective against high-resistance strains of pathogens.
Through ardent dedication, Manish and Hemali succeeded in innovating a fabric that didn’t just hold good against bacteria and fungi but also against viruses (like the Coronavirus) and TB bacteria (which is known to be one of the toughest pathogens to deal with). The final product that Thermaissance innovated was sent to labs in the USA for testing.
The numbers this fabric achieved were jaw-dropping:
- When bombarded with about 30,000 strains of coronavirus, the Thermaissance fabric outperformed every expectation by achieving a 93% reduction in viral load within the first 5 minutes and a 100% reduction in the load within one hour of bombardment
- Additionally, the fabric passed with flying colours in thermal regulation as well. It aided the body’s temperature regulation by increasing or decreasing its resistance based on whether the patient felt hot or cold. The labs tested the fabric to reach from 10 degrees to 37.5 degrees within 9 minutes!
The Thermaissance fabric was established effective against bacteria like Staphylococcus, Klebsiella, MRSA, VRE, CRE, M.tb, E.coli, and viruses like coronavirus and also against fungal strains like Black Fungus, Candida, Aspergillus niger and more.
The Competitive Edge
Thinking back to the initial stages of market research, Manish highlighted that it was necessary to get their product validated in the real world as well to make it fit for use. This was the primary factor that would give them the competitive edge over other players in the niche.
The performance benchmarks set by the Thermaissance fabric swept every competitor away with its numbers:
- What the competitor textiles achieved in a timeline of 6 hours (in terms of Coronavirus neutralization efficacy), Thermaissance fabric was able to achieve within 60 minutes
- Unlike their competitors, Thermaissance tested their fabric for efficacy against 30,000 microbial strains, while the competitors tested for around 500 strains
- The durability of textile efficacy was also found to be exemplary in Thermaissance fabrics, lasting for 100 machine washes (of 50 commercial/autoclave washes) at an efficacy of 99.99%. Their competitors claimed about 10 to 20 wash efficacies. This made Thermaissance really cost-effective
Furthermore, when deployed in a real-world scenario with lab specialists during their shift, the Thermaissance fabric outperformed regular scrubs by miles:
- The end-of-day fungal load was reduced by 88.94%
- There was 0% viral load on Thermaissance PPE
- There was an 80% reduction in the overall bacterial load on Thermaissance PPE vis-à-vis regular PPE
All this while, the traditional hospital textile remained heavily loaded with fungal and bacterial loads (and with some viral loads as well).
Social Impact of the Product
While Manish and Hemali haven’t “measured” the social impact of this product yet, the textile potentially has the following effects:
- Environmental consciousness, because it can be reused and recycled
- Drastic reduction in disease/infection transmission
- Comfortable for the wearers, reduction in sweat rash, heat rash, or temperature-based bodily discomforts
How has MSMF Helped Thermaissance?
Hemali and Manish emphasized that MSMF helped Thermaissance conduct real-world studies and tests on their product to gather validating evidence. This was an essential aspect of establishing their product as a trailblazer technology in the industry which MSMF made possible by finding the right partners and channels for Thermaissance.
Additionally, MSMF extended support in getting clinical trials for the product, professional diagnostics, and insights by medical professionals.
Learnings and a Path Into The Future
One of the most critical takeaways Hemali highlighted in her journey with Thermaissance was the importance of having a team to rely on. It was important, she emphasized, to select driven individuals that can help your organization grow. She described how it helped them divide and delegate the work effectively.
She also spoke about defining the organizational ethos early on in a brand’s journey so that it could be assimilated into all the practices and SOPs of the company. For Thermaissance, as an example, one of the ethos was to refrain from staking any claims. To distinguish themselves from their competitors who were marketing their products without scientific evidence, Thermaissance would only claim what it could prove.
For the future, Manish and Hemali aim for Thermaissance to be the leading healthcare textile manufacturer across the globe. The brand has already begun to make a mark by securing mentions on some of the most esteemed news houses of the industry – Bio Spectrum.
The aim is to keep innovating healthcare textiles for better solutions that challenge the norm and revolutionize healthcare with medical technology in textiles.
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