Top Doctors 2016
DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.
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Advancements are made every day in the medical industry, with new products being invented and processes being improved to make sure you’re receiving the very best care. But who are the people behind the new inventions? Some of the innovators are in our very own backyard.
Mercy Research has a team dedicated to helping get new medical products on the market.
It’s a familiar situation: you’re facing a problem or a difficult task, and you think to yourself, “I wish someone would invent a tool that would make this easier.” When you’re in a hospital or doctor’s office, that thought occurs dozens of times a day. Doctors, nurses and even patients are on the front lines, facing scenarios they know will be easier with a new tool or procedure. In 417-land, those innovators can bring their ideas to life with the help of Mercy Research and Development, a Division of Mercy Research.
This program within the Mercy health system is responsible for product development across all Mercy locations. The staff there take the idea brought to them by physicians and nurses and decide if it is a feasible project to develop a prototype. The Mercy teams help on both local projects and industry-sponsored projects, taking the idea from start to finish in product development, clinical trials and data analysis.
Mercy Springfield is one of few hospitals in the region that have a fully integrated program that can do both data research and product development. At any given time, Mercy Research has about 350 physicians from all backgrounds performing research in some form, both on- and off-site. Mercy can also provide services for external companies on a contract basis when they have a product idea but need help manufacturing it and getting feedback from the health industry.
For a product to get past the design stage and become fully produced for use in hospitals or physicians’ offices, it has to be vetted through a lot of steps. The research team looks at factors like if it is patentable, if someone else has done it already, what it will take to get approved on the market, what it will require financially and what the federal regulations would be. Mercy also has to do a full business analysis and decide if it will be developed in house or by an external partner. They look at manufacturing and whether a new design process will need to be implemented. After the team’s review, the product still has to be approved by the Mercy Research board of directors. If approved, the team moves forward to work with inventors and other experts to gather all the information needed to start developing prototypes. They hash out all the details, down to how the product should be packaged and what color it should be. Then they put the prototype into the hands of Mercy staff to start getting user feedback. What would make a doctor or nurse want to use this product over one available already? The product is refined based on the feedback, then the team works with attorneys to secure the intellectual property. The last step is manufacturing, and Mercy works to get the product back into the healthcare system as quickly as possible and for the lowest price.
Many of the products used in Mercy hospitals and clinics today were designed and manufactured by Mercy Research and Development. Some are fully implemented and some are just about to be released, but you might see one of these inventions at your next doctor’s appointment.
When a patient is healing from a broken jaw, the current procedure is to wire the mouth shut with braces and connect the top teeth and bottom teeth. The wires can tear up the inside of the patient’s mouth, and this is problematic when a patient needs to vomit. Dr. Bharat Shah is developing a process similar to a zip tie that will make it possible to unhinge the jaw and allow the patient to safely open their mouth, then shut it again. This will also help prevent cuts to the inside of the mouth by avoiding sharp metal wires.
Unique Device Identifiers
One of the next projects on the horizon is developing unique product identifiers for medical devices that are used in patients. Dr. Joseph Drozda is developing a device to help doctors know what medical devices are currently in a patient and how that could affect further care. Keela Davis, Executive Director of Mercy Research, says this project is in partnership with the FDA and has the potential to impact long-term follow up care, such as total hip replacements.
Drug Delivery Contact Lenses
The Mercy research team is working with the military to develop contact lenses that release medicine into injured eyes. There is a need to help soldiers who injure their eyes on the battlefield, and Mercy has created the technology to make it fully functional in the lab. This device was developed by Dr. Shachar Tauber and Dr. Randall Fuerst and is currently awaiting human trials.
Dr. Bruce Hedgepeth invented this device to help prevent accidental needle sticks. The plastic circle has a space for medicine vials to click in and allows a nurse or healthcare provider to hold the vial behind an impenetrable shield. Needles can then be safely inserted to extract the medicine from the other side, and the fear of an accidental stick is reduced. This is even more useful in emergency situations or high-trauma cases that cause commotion and added stress.
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