For many years, nurses have been tinkerers, creators who manipulate the materials they have in order to care for patients’ needs. This has simply been a part of the nursing role, perhaps not discussed in the limelight but always in the background. Today this role is evolving — creations that nurses make are moving to a scalable size. Nurses are stepping out of the shadows to not only create solutions for one patient but to create sharable solutions that all patients can benefit from. For example, Ernesto Holguin, BSN, R.N., CNN, has created the DiFoBod (Diabetic Foot Body Center), a homecare device that assists patients in drying and inspecting their feet for ulcers, all while transmitting this information directly to the patient’s provider. The interoperability of this device assists patients in avoiding ulcerations, infections and hospital readmissions.
In a recent interview, Holguin shared his story on how he arrived at the decision to create the DiFoBod.
“Back in 2003, I remember entering the room of a familiar patient on the dialysis unit, room 509 to be exact. This patient had been a patient of the dialysis family for quite some time. I asked her how she got her foot ulcer, knowing that this was a common problem for many diabetic patients. She explained she was unable to see it, and her husband didn’t notice either because of his poor health. I then asked her how she discovered it, and then she told me it was because she smelled it,” Holguin recalled.
Customer discovery came next, though at the time Holguin was not aware that’s what he was doing.
“Over the next few years, I began asking all of my patients about their foot care and how they managed,” Holguin said.
He discovered that many patients lived on their own with little family support, away from the city and with poor access to transportation. Holguin began prototyping his invention, and in 2014 he had filed for a provisional patent, and in 2015 a non-provisional patent.
It wasn’t until 2015, when the solutions-driven group MakerNurse visited his hospital, that he shared his idea with the team. “They gave me great feedback and inspired me to go forward and optimize my device,” he said.
Since then, Holguin has won several competitions, securing funds to support taking his device to market. He continues to work at the bedside while moving forward with the DiFoBod. Soon this device will be available for many diabetic patients.
I am confident there are more nurses like Ernesto, prototyping and dreaming up solutions to patient care challenges. We need to foster the culture of innovation in and outside the hospital. Who better than a nurse to create and draft solutions to patient care needs? We, as a society, need to speak up, support and encourage nurses to share their ideas. I know together we will make the change.
Dr. Rose Hedges, DNP, R.N., is the Nursing Research & Innovation Coordinator from UnityPoint Health, St. Luke’s Hospital, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Rose utilizes her clinical expertise, computer technology and information science to support innovation and champion change throughout the hospital.
Nursing Informaticist from UnityPoint Health, St. Luke’s Hospital, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Rose utilizes her clinical expertise, computer technology, and information science to support innovation and champion change throughout the hospital.
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