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Changing the way the world takes temperature

June 23, 2010

A world leader in industrial and medical non-invasive temperature technology, Exergen has hit new levels of recognition with its innovative Temporal Thermometer. FRANCESCO POMPEI sheds some light on this award winning product.

Why all the attention to a medical device in the public press? Francesco Pompei. Taking temperature is by far the most common medical test performed – approximately 10 billion times per year worldwide, at all care levels including at home, and is a shared experience by all people. It is also one of the few things in medical care that everyone, including the patient, understands.
The idea of accurate temperatures with a gentle forehead scan renders the insertion of thermometers into body cavities obsolete, which immediately improves everyone’s medical care experience and appears to be a natural attention-getter.
Was cost a major issue? FP. Yes. Improving care without reducing costs is only one-half of an innovation. Both are necessary in order for an innovation to succeed in a lasting way. The reduction in disposable use associated with temporal thermometry is a major financial benefit, as well as a major reduction in waste. Combined with the care benefits of gentleness, speed, and non-invasiveness, everyone wins. Was reluctance to change a major issue? FP. Yes. There is a natural predisposition in medical care to resist change, which is healthy and appropriate most of the time. In our case, we were proposing a new method of taking temperature employing the forehead, a site that has been used for 5000 years for fever detection, but no one had ever been able to be make it accurate enough to replace the body cavity thermometers. It has taken us 10 years from the initial market introduction, more than 30 published studies, and about 2.5 billion temperatures taken with the Temporal Thermometer, to achieve today’s
level of acceptance. There still remains some skepticism, which we are working to overcome. It appears perseverance is important to
change what you do. FP. Perseverance is absolutely essential. It really starts with the scientific development of the technology, which in our case took about 15 years, making the total perseverance time about 25 years. In addition there are always
entrenched competitors protecting traditional technologies, many of them much larger than the innovating company, which need to
be overcome. Fortunately early adopters, particularly large teaching hospitals, are usually willing to give an innovation an opportunity
to succeed in the face of fierce entrenched competition. However, a successful new technology draws other competitors who try to
copy the idea, which requires expensive perseverance to protect patented technology – 10 years and still ongoing for us. There is always an opportunity for a good idea to succeed, but the entrepreneurial company must have both the will and wherewithal to persevere. Big changes in any field do not happen overnight.

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