Next for the Eclipse: a $1 million beta test

Sunday, April 30, 2006

SAN DIEGO - Usually when a manufacturer announces a beta test for a new product, it barely gets noticed. But when the process includes $1 million worth of equipment, that's a whole different story.
"This is unprecedented," Ed Radtke, director of sales for SeQual Technologies, said about the second phase of a beta test involving the company's new Eclipse, a 17-pound concentrator that provides both pulse and continuous flow at rates of up to 3 liters per minute. "When this program is complete--which we anticipate to be mid- to late- May--we will have close to 500 units deployed to providers and harvesting feedback from patients."
Developed over five years at an approximate cost of $12 million, Eclipse's second beta test initially involves sending 12 units to each of 12 selected providers, Radtke said. The agreement calls for the providers to deploy at least half of the units on "naive" oxygen patients--those with no prior experience with respiratory equipment--within 15 days of shipment.
While the initial test phase concentrated on the patient, the second trial is geared toward the provider and whether "the unit is doing what providers want it to do," Radtke said. Phase three, planned for the summer, essentially expands the second phase by allowing providers to randomly distribute the Eclipse to patients they select.
As it is designed, the Eclipse's ideal users are patients who live in the outer limits of the provider's delivery area and those who require at least 10 cylinders delivered biweekly, Radtke said.
"The rationale is basically economic," he said. "It means fewer service calls and lower overhead costs for the provider."
SeQual officials are also counting on expert guidance from one of its newest board members--prominent industry champion Vernon Pertelle, senior director and assistant vice president at Tri City Healthcare District in San Diego County. The former director of respiratory care for Lake Forest, Calif.-based Apria has more than 20 years of experience in the field and is a noted authority on clinical outcomes.
"Vernon is a major figure and a major influencer in the industry," Radtke said. "We are very pleased to have him because he brings a keen provider perspective and is a staunch patient advocate. I anticipate that his input will be very important as the Eclipse moves forward in its development." HME