Teardown experts iFixit this week launched what it calls the “world’s largest” medical repair database. Two months in the making, the central library features more than 13,000 user manuals from hundreds of manufacturers—available immediately and for free.
Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, hospitals struggled to get access to device repair information. Now, thanks to travel restrictions and amplified need for medical attention, the problem is only getting worse. “Unfortunately, [biomedical technicians] spend innumerable hours scouring the internet, searching for crucial repair information they need to make a fix or perform preventative maintenance. This is not a good way to run a health system,” iFixit co-founder Kyle Wiens wrote in a blog post.
Some manufacturers already provide free access to digital manuals, and a few others released select documents during the pandemic. But, as Wiens pointed out, biomeds regularly rely on “a rag-tag set of web resources to get the job done.” Enter iFixit’s database.
The firm teamed up with librarians, archivists, and biomeds across the country to organize “piles” of documents into a searchable treasure trove of repair information. It currently prioritizes ventilator documentation, anesthesia systems, and respiratory analyzers—devices widely used to support novel coronavirus patients.
“The list of products has grown exponentially as the documents from biomeds and community members poured in,” Wiens boasted. “Some of the documents in our collection were already available. Others were not publicly posted until now. It was important to us that this resource didn’t just duplicate existing resources, but improved accessibility in a meaningful way.”
Manufacturers and biomeds are invited to add to the collaborative catalog; iFixit’s wiki organization system and Q&A forum make it easy to disperse information to those who need it.