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Joe Kiani

by Linda MelonePublished: November 01, 2012

Chairman and CEO Masimo, Irvine
Hot factor: His company’s products have helped revolutionize hospital monitoring, saving countless lives.

As the CEO of one of the most successful medical device companies in Orange County, Joe Kiani wasn’t always sure he was on the right track. After struggling to get his business off the ground for five years, a single phone call in 1994 told him to not give up: A doctor from Queens Valley Hospital in West Covina was able to save a child’s life by using one of Masimo’s products, a pulse oximeter, which measures pulse rate and oxygen saturation (the amount of oxygen the blood is carrying).

“The doctor told me they were about to give up on the patient, but that this device enabled them to help save that baby’s life,” Kiani says. “I knew I had to get these products out into the world, no matter what.”

Soon after, a researcher at Cedars-Sinai heard about Masimo’s pulse oximeters. At that time, babies at the medical facility’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) were developing damaged retinas, and some were going blind. The researchers believed that the babies were getting too much oxygen.

“At the time,” Kiani says, “the pulse oximeters they used presented a false low reading when the babies moved, so nurses would give the babies more oxygen. That damaged their retinas, resulting in retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).”

In 2002, Kiani met the Cedars-Sinai researcher, who noted that they had virtually eliminated ROP by using Masimo’s product. ROP had developed in 12 percent of the NICU babies, and 2,000 babies a year in the U.S. were going blind from it, Kiani says.

“This technology has given many, many years of sight to people throughout their lives,” Kiani says.

Today, Masimo employs more than 2,500 people worldwide and is known for its groundbreaking noninvasive medical-technology devices, including products such as the Masimo SET, the pulse oximetry tool that has dramatically reduced ROP; and the Masimo Rainbow SET Pulse CO-Oximetry, the first noninvasive blood-constituent-monitoring platform to measure multiple blood components. It works without requiring invasive procedures and helps reduce the number of risky blood transfusions.

In addition to leading Masimo, Kiani works with legislators in Washington D.C. to promote public policy that supports innovation and good healthcare decisions. Kiani created the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare in 2010. Among other issues, the foundation promotes activities, programs and research opportunities that improve patient safety.

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