A metal and plastic box doesn’t sound that innovative. But this one could save lives. It’s a new, protective platform with built in gloves that healthcare workers can use to administer COVID-19 tests.
“Single-use protection equipment is expensive and in short supply. Ohio manufacturers are making as much as they can, as fast as they can, but we also need more sustainable, innovative options for the long-term,” said Dr. Ethan Karp, President and CEO of MAGNET.
The MAGNET team came across a booth concept from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. It protects medical professionals who are doing COVID-19 tests, so they don’t have to dispose of valuable masks, gowns, and gloves after each patient is swabbed. They follow a quick and effective cleaning protocol for the booth and then move on to the next patient – saving time and protective equipment.
As part of the Ohio Manufacturing Alliance to Fight COVID-19, MAGNET was already working closely with health care experts at University Hospitals and UH Ventures, their innovation and commercialization division. In addition to providing faster, safer testing and saving protective equipment – the hospital says the booth’s portable nature means it can easily be moved to location-specific hotspots that need testing.
“This is a very promising tool for us moving forward,” said David Sylvan, President of UH Ventures. “Efficient, safe testing for both our caregivers and patients is critical. These booths allow us to expand our ability to safely test while conserving critical supplies of PPE. This is another great example of Ohio manufacturers stepping up to help.”
Once the hospital got excited about the idea, MAGNET’s engineers, and our engineering interns from Cleveland State University, got to work with the UH Ventures team and began improving the original concept and building a prototype.
“We wanted to get these booths into the field as quickly as possible, so the team worked night and day. It really was a textbook innovation process with University Hospitals: rapid clinical testing, fast feedback loops, and a cleverly engineered design platform to allow quick changes. Our first design had a shelf on each side. But when health care providers ran their tests, they found a centered shelf would allow for faster testing and easier cleaning. Fortunately, the way our engineers designed the booth, they were able to make the necessary change in a nearly real-time product improvement cycle. A process that could have easily taken months was compressed into a few weeks,” said Brandon Cornuke, VP of MAGNET’s Innovation Iterator and Marketing.
It was a high-pressure process for the team, but a very gratifying one.
“We learned so much from MAGNET’s engineering team and innovation experts about how to rapidly execute innovation in the real-world. You don’t necessarily need a ton of money. You just need a great idea and you need to be really smart about executing it. And we also saw the importance of having the right partners. It felt amazing to be part of something that will help do some good during a terrible time,” said Matt Maguire, a MAGNET intern from Cleveland State University.
Once the design was finalized, MAGNET recruited Robeck Fluid Power to manufacture additional units for use in a pilot program at University Hospitals. If it delivers what it promises, the booths could be expanded throughout the UH healthcare system.
“Sadly, it seems COVID will be with us for some time to come. So, we can’t just innovate for this crisis, we need to rethink the way we protect healthcare workers and patients. And we need to invent what healthcare workers need to do things like daily testing and temperature checks that may become permanent fixtures in our hospitals, schools, and factories. We’re working on making the protection equipment we need right now, and our Alliance is also trying to get ahead of all the emerging needs that will be coming as this pandemic moves into new phases and we all try to get more prepared for life in a post-COVID world,” said Dr. Ethan Karp, President and CEO of MAGNET.
MAGNET has already had interest from other healthcare systems who want to explore using the new protective booth. The Alliance also has additional booth designs that are currently available from other innovative manufacturers to assist in a variety of settings, from providing protection while taking employee temperatures to properly separating workers on assembly lines or patients in hospital waiting rooms.
In its work with the Alliance, MAGNET has used its engineering and supply chain expertise to help manufacturers produce several desperately needed protective items. The Alliance has helped local distiller Cleveland Whiskey make hand sanitizer for the Cleveland Clinic, coordinated efforts by 19 manufacturers to produce one million face shields, and provided critical support to make nasal swabs for COVID-19 testing.
“The team at MAGNET has been an incredible partner,” said Brian Rothstein, MD, Clinical Ventures Fellow, UH Ventures, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Neurosurgery Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. “Their innovative thought process and design perspective have been invaluable. And, more importantly, they have continued to incorporate end-user feedback to make the products the very best they can be.”
MAGNET is now turning its attention to the future – working on ensuring that the advances in innovation and the efforts to build local medical supply chains stay here in Northeast Ohio, long after the COVID crisis has passed.