Spectrum Innovations team finds health solutions

Posted at 6:35 AM, Mar 20, 2017

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- No one knows more about healthcare than those who work in the industry. With that in mind, Spectrum Health is relying on a special team to come up with solutions to some common problems within hospitals.

Spectrum’s Innovations team looks to doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to find out what isn't working for them and then come up with products to make their jobs easier and patient experiences better.

One of their latest projects is a female urinary device.

Internal catheters are uncomfortable, increase the chance of infection and don't allow patients to move around.

The new product is entirely external, is more hygienic, and is less invasive, so it's an alternative for female patients where there didn't used to be one.

Nurse practice associate Mary Tibbe came up with the idea and brought it to the Innovations team.

"The only alternatives are being incontinent and wearing those briefs or the pad they are laying on, which doesn't maintain human dignity at all,” said Tibbe. She also said the device should help improve a patient’s outlook and emotional health, "being mobile and being able to walk over to the window and be able to look out the window instead of being in bed and being incontinent. I feel that would help people feel better and also motivate them to get better.”

The Innovations team is also unique in their partnership with local schools and universities. It's a chance for students to put their name on actual products before they graduate.

“It gives them real-life experience, real life work experience on a real product," said Kris Emery, Innovations team nurse. "And so they also have access to really smart clinicians which -- they tell me down the road when they've graduated and went out into the real world -- 'This project helped me get my job.'”

The female  urinary device is also patented. Volunteer trials are set to begin this May. Once those are complete, the team will send the device prototype to a manufacturer.