IPAC-05 Lessons on Infection Control and Healthcare Sales from the Man with the High-Tech Pillow | David Woolfson

The #HCBiz Show!

IPAC-05 Lessons on Infection Control and Healthcare Sales from the Man with the High-Tech Pillow | David Woolfson

Isolate your value, show economic impact, and get on your prospects priority lists
May 3, 2017

IPAC-05 Lessons on Infection Control and Healthcare Sales from the Man with the High-Tech Pillow | David Woolfson

There are two things I can say for sure. First, healthcare-associated infections (HAI) cause a lot of suffering and cost a lot of money. Second, it’s really hard to sell into healthcare, even when you have an innovative product that attacks a well-known problem in a common-sense way. On this episode, we get to dive into both of those things.

Infection Control and Environmental Surfaces

Over the past decade, substantial scientific evidence has accumulated indicating that contamination of environmental surfaces in hospital rooms plays an important role in the transmission of several key HAIs. Environmental surfaces contribute to cross-transmission of pathogens. These surfaces include both nonporous (hard) surfaces and soft surfaces such as bed linens, gown, mattress, etc. The more a patient comes into contact with a surface, the more important it is to keep it clean. Well, what happens if you can’t keep your pillows clean? Many standard issue hospital pillows allow pathogens to enter through sewn seams, vents, and non-barrier covers. Then patients put their heads on them. It’s an issue that seems to have a common-sense call-to-action, much like hand-hygiene. But as we’ve seen, common sense and good products ae not all you need to penetrate the healthcare market.

Selling into the Hospital

Innovators and entrepreneurs who want to make it in the healthcare business should absolutely focus their efforts on delivering products and services that help patients. That is, after all, the whole point of what we’re doing. But if your sales strategy relies on what you’ve deemed to be “common sense” and “good for the patient” and nothing else, then you’re likely to fail.

When David Woolfson and his team at Gabriel Scientific started winning awards for their hermetically sealed pillow with a filter, they thought they had short-circuited the healthcare sales cycle. As we’ll hear, it drove some VC attention but did little to open doors at the health systems. David’s story is instructive in many ways, but it delivers a truth that many in the startup community won’t want to hear: it’s going to be a grind and there are no short-cuts.

Episode 006 (part 5 of 8 in our IPAC series):

On this episode, we talk with David Woolfson to learn:

  1. How soft surfaces like pillows and mattresses contribute to the spread of infection in hospitals.
  2. How outbreaks close hospital rooms and impact revenue
  3. How working in infection prevention often makes you feel like Cassandra (in Greek mythology she had the power of prophecy but was cursed so that no one would ever believe her).
  4. How to isolate your value, show direct economic impact and get on your buyer’s priority list.
  5. The importance of understanding the purchasing systems of your prospects and adjusting your approach to match it.
  6. The importance of understanding your buyer and their personal needs as much as the hospital’s needs.
  7. What the heck “Stars and Stripes selling” means.
  8. How to get the experts talking about your product and leveraging that to open doors (even just a crack)
  9. Who is the hardest person in the hospital to convince
  10. How to keep yourself safe and healthy at home, at the hotel, and the hospital.
  11. And most importantly, how an Irishman can be an asset on St. Patrick’s day and get you free pints!

I hope you enjoy it!

~ Don Lee

About David Woolfson and Gabriel Scientific

David Woolfson is CEO of Gabriel Scientific in Dublin, Ireland.

Gabriel Scientific is a life sciences company dedicated to the design and manufacture of barrier property bedding for the hospital, hotel, and home. Gabriel Scientific products are CE marked medical devices, used by Infection Control and Tissue Viability Departments to combat medical bedding contamination.

SleepAngel products with PneumaPure Filter Technology are scientifically proven to block hospital pathogens and reduce the risk of patient cross-infection.

SleepAngel home bedding is scientifically proven to block germs and allergens that can trigger asthma and allergic reaction.

Learn more:


Gabriel Scientific on LinkedIn


About the Infection Prevention and Control Series

This episode is part of The #HCBiz Show’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) series. We’d like to thank our partners and the Center of Excellence for Infection Prevention and Control (COE IPAC) for their support and guidance with the series.

About is a Pan-Access journal that extends globally and touches locally. is: Free to Publish. Free to Access and provides Accessible Scientific Services.

About Center of Excellence for Infection Prevention and Control (COE IPAC)

Center of Excellence for Infection Prevention and Control (COE IPAC) is a collaborative effort to accelerate and support new solutions that hold the promise of significantly advancing infection prevention and control. On a quarterly basis, the Center of Excellence will evaluate at least 3 international innovations – giving them access to independent testing, publication as well as a US commercialization site.


The #HCBiz Show! is produced by Glide Health IT, LLC in partnership with Netspective Media.


Soundtrack credit: Acid Lounge by FoolBoyMedia

You may also like

Subscribe to #HPN and Never miss The #HCBiz Show!

Proudly supported by:

Nurses You Should Know with Joanna Uribe MSN, RN and Sandy Cayo DNP, FNP-BC, RN Listen to this very important and timely discussion on Nurses You Should Know!