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    Al Siblani

    Pivoting in a Pandemic: How a U.S. 3D printing manufacturer is helping healthcare in its time of need

    Global Impact: Rebecca Rock, RN and SABM CFO talks with HPI about two roles across two countries

    From Lab Trend Visionary to Dark Group CEO: HPI connects with the Founder and Editor of the Dark Report, Robert Michel

    Two Imaging Leaders, Two Systems, One Outcome: Communication

    From Communication Strength to Just in Time Reopening at MGH A conversation with Dr. James Brink, Chief of Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital

    From Time Magazine to PBM Influencer: Sherri Ozawa's Mission to Define the Value of Blood

    Buried Blessings: Pandemic perspective from Tom Strauss, CEO at Sisters of Charity Health System

    Katie Castree, Career Healthcare Process Improvement Connoisseur

    Solving Lab Challenges through Recruiting Innovation: HPI connects with Lighthouse Lab Services President, Jon Harol

    Providing Value-Based Care in a Pandemic through Telehealth and Data Resources: An HPI exclusive with Dr. Darrel Weaver

    From Supply Chain Crisis to Innovation in a Pandemic

    From Navy Medic to running a Clinical Laboratory . . . during a pandemic

    Planning for Blood Shortages in a Pandemic with Dr. Claudia Cohn

    Blood Banking is more complex today than ever before. Rob Van Tuyle, President of Vitalant's Blood Division, tells us why.

    Profoundly Impacting Healthcare with Breakthrough Anemia Management

    Supporting Imaging Precisely Where You Need It

    Working Together Makes End of Life Conversations Easier to Have

    The Future of Imaging: Assessing the early impacts of COVID-19 and the path to innovation through Artificial Intelligence (AI) A conversation with Dr. Geoff Rubin

    Pivoting in a Pandemic: How a U.S. 3D printing manufacturer is helping healthcare in its time of need

    Mara G. Aspinall: Diagnostic evangelist educating the world on the power of diagnostics today

    How The Joint Commission is addressing the COVID-19 Pandemic

    CHI Nebraska’s Laboratory Director Connie Wilkins, describes How To Manage a Clinical Laboratory During the pandemic

    Former Commercial Lab Leader Highlights the Hospital Lab as the Solution to Community Sustainability in a Healthcare Crisis

    Three Phases Essential to Crisis Preparedness in Patient Blood Management with Anne Burkey of St. Luke's Health in Boise, ID

    The Importance of Agility in Your Lab

    Dr. Paul Biddinger Shares Three Ways to Prepare for COVID-19

    Bringing Clinical Skills to Operational Leadership During a Time of Crisis; Dr. Blanton, Chief Medical Officer at Peterson Health

    7 Team Attributes to Teams that Work in Challenging Times & Through Rapid Innovation

    From Finding Problems to Saving Lives: The Evolution of Interventional Radiology

    Identifying the Potential with AI in Radiology with Dr. Chung

    Communication in the C-Suite with Cliff Robertson of Catholic Health Initiatives

    Reviewing Your Patient Financial Journey with Melody W. Mulaik, President of Revenue Cycle Coding Strategies

    Ask An Accumen Expert: Carolyn Burns, MD, a Patient Blood Management Advocate

    Linda DeVee, Leads Radiology Services at Edward-Elmhurst Health

    Theresa Mouton, Market Chief Financial Officer with Steward Health

    PELITAS President and CEO Steven Huddleston Wants Patients to Have a Great Experience – Both Clinically and Financially

    How Do You Deal with 2 Billion Forms a Year? Ask Randy Campbell

    Medical Director of Telehealth for UAB Knocks Barriers Down to Treat Patients on Their Terms

    C-Suite Spotlight: Wayne Bohenek Chief Ancillary Services Officer, Bon Secours Mercy Health

    A Leader in the Laboratory Service Line : Pierre Mouawad

    Healthcare Partner: Autumn Farmer, Chief Laboratory Officer, Bon Secours Mercy Health

    How Imbio is using AI to close the gap of missed diagnosis with Mike Hostetler

    Spit Matters with Bill Phillips from Spectrum Solutions

    How COVID-19 inspired TeraRecon to accelerate their imaging solutions to the point of care with Jeff Sorensen

    Al Siblani had an early passion for the extended capabilities of 3D printing, the mind of an engineer to develop it and the drive of an entrepreneur to bring it all together. He subsequently founded EnvisionTEC in 2002, now a global manufacturer of 3D printing machines and materials that deliver solutions to 12 industries today, including automotive, aerospace, toys, animation, jewelry, sporting goods, and a primary focus on medical devices as the manufacturer of 6 of 10 hearing aids in the world. Clients include Mayo Clinic, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin.

    EnvisionTEC has now also become the solution to COVID-19 testing for millions of patients in the U.S. 

    Healthcare Performance Insider connected with Mr. Siblani to discuss this journey, the impact EnvisionTEC has had throughout the pandemic and a glimpse of the future of 3D printing.

    Looking back, Mr. Siblani is strong in his conviction that we should have recognized the supply chain shortage of swabs earlier. We should have looked at it closer back when China was having problems. We should have anticipated that back in October as opposed to February. We would have been able to act a lot differently, been able to test people more aggressively, with a swab available in February. Noting this however, he shifts quickly to discussing the solution. Most entrepreneurs do not spend a lot of time dwelling on the past and Mr. Siblani is no exception.

    Like many times before, EnvisionTEC received a call from the market to meet a unique need. This time, the answer would be heard around the world – literally.

    I was called by a hospital in Michigan who, at that time, had 38 patients that were choking because they were severely suffering from COVID-19, having breathing problems. The hospital only had 18 ventilators. We responded by printing splitters for them, allowing 36 of the 38 patients to be put on a ventilator. Within 24-hours of that delivery, I tested positive for COVID-19.

    Being sick at home gave me a lot of time to focus on helping to solve the problem of the swab shortage. The fact that I was now one of those people that would be have a problem getting tested because of the shortage gave me more ammunition, and more energy, to overcome it.

    News of these events got out and Mr. Siblani was contacted by the White House seeking his assistance in identifying solutions. When I got the call, there were only 600,000 swabs in the country for COVID-19 testing. The President had ordered planes to go to Italy to get additional supply but only 500,000 were available. That is when I launched a study to prove the 3D swab I had created was as good as, or better than, the swabs we were going to other countries to obtain.

    It took Mr. Siblani and the EnvisionTEC team exactly 22 days from concept to delivery of a 3D printed swab to test for the COVID-19 virus. He went through 17 different design iterations, personally testing the collection process of each. There were three specific requirements the swab had to meet:

    1. The swab material had to be extremely flexible to account for all nasal passage types, i.e. someone with deviated septum.
    2. The mechanical properties tested included torsional strength, elongation, and break.
    3. The swab had to be easy to use, work with PCR testing and collect enough virus to deliver a result.

    Once a prototype was complete, EnvisionTEC conducted a 150-person clinical study where subjects were swabbed with the current device and the 3D printed swabs. Through this process, several advantages of the EnvisionTEC were identified. Specifically, when sterilized, the EnvisionTEC swab has a 12-month shelf life compared to 6-months with other swabs. This led the FDA to grant EUA to the EnvisionTEC swab, one of 15 approvals to-date from over 65 submissions.

    If you build it . . .

    Concept to study was one thing. Now Mr. Siblani was faced with how to produce the swabs in the middle of a pandemic. We had to make a significant change (to normal operations). Swab production was a two-hour work structure. We sent a lot of the non-essential employees’ home to ensure social distancing during working hours and implemented a lot of new cleaning guidelines. Then we focused on satisfying the swab demands, as well as the demand for equipment for those who wanted print them at their facility. So, as a result of the COVID-19, we have been operating at 24 hours a day, six days a week.

    To-date, EnvisionTEC has shipped over 3 million swabs for COVID-19 testing and is committed to making swabs for as long as they’re needed.

    Given the fact that there is currently no vaccine, I think swab usage will continue to rise. As people want to go back to work, they need to be tested to do so safely. We are currently working with Fortune 500 companies that have thousands of employees to put testing facilities at their companies. We are also talking to universities that are looking to test their students once every two weeks as classes resume in the fall. I was just speaking to a university that has 25,000 students they want to test every 10 days – over two semesters that’s 550,000 swabs. 

    EnvisionTEC has also developed channel partnerships with companies like Accumen to maximize the reach of their swab. We started looking for a, a partner that is very well connected to labs, hospitals, and health groups. We were being approached by many but chose Accumen because they have an incredible reputation in the market.

    Profoundly Impacting Healthcare
    Mr. Siblani remains passionate about the capabilities of 3D printing, now specifically focused on strengthening the essential medical supply chain in the U.S.

    We have proven that, in a short period of time, we can rapidly expand the supply chain to satisfy the needs in the U.S. without relying on outside sources.

    We need to look at how else we can use 3D printing to disrupt other areas.

    EnvisionTEC is currently in talks with 3M, Chevron, and health systems across the country about other innovations. Currently, he is working on a breathable, custom printed mask with a silicone seal that can measure the output and input of carbon monoxide for up to 8 hours. According to Al Siblani, the possibilities are endless – and so are the needs.

    Al Siblani

    Al Siblani

    Chairman, President and CEO of EnvisionTEC