MacGyver Comes to Healthcare

Roxanne Nelson, BSN, RN


April 12, 2016

For One Patient or Many?

"Nurses are natural leaders in tinkering," said Young. "A lot of the time there is no standard—there is one patient who needs something, and that's where making things at the point of care can really make a difference."

Young emphasized that the whole idea of nurses as makers is not just about making commercial products, and that the goals of MakerHealth do not include bringing the products and devices created by nurses to market.

"In reality, most of the ideas that nurses and other staff bring to the MakerHealth Space are not available as commercial products because there is not a market for the problem they are solving. Or the market may be too small to be worth investing in the steps to bring the device to market," Young said. "However, many of these ideas still have the potential to add tremendous value to the hospital and improve patient care."

She explained, "The diffusion pathway is different and often faster than traditional commercialization pipelines. Nurses can make hardware protocols that can be shared in multiple units across the hospitals—maybe that foam-covered cup used to cover IV sites in the PICU can also be used in a cardiac step-down unit, because some of those patients are pulling at their IVs as much as a child. The purpose of the MakerHealth Space," she said, "is to recognize that there are creative solutions and to develop those ideas. It's giving the staff the space to experiment with materials to create new solutions."

There are many pathways to bringing devices made in the MakerHealth Space to the bedside, explained Young, adding, "For any path forward, MakerNurse encourages nurses to create a prototype of the idea. Even if it is just a concept model that would never be used with a patient, it is critical to move from an idea on a napkin sketch to something you can hold in your hand. Creating a physical prototype will help you to answer many questions and think through the specific mechanisms for your device. It also moves you from a problem identified and a fantastic focus group, to an innovator, inventor, and maker. For nurses who want to commercialize their technology, we recommend looking into a variety of options for advice and resources, such as the technology-licensing office of a hospital, venture accelerators, incubators, and local coworking spaces."


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