Q: If you were asked to give a TED Talk, what would you talk about?
A: I would talk about the lack of innovation in healthcare. The ordinary person can create an extraordinary product in healthcare. Anybody can see what is wrong, have a vision, and create something that would improve healthcare. If your insights are accurate to the functionality of the user and the patient experience, you can innovate in healthcare. When it comes down to it, I’m nobody special -- I just had an idea and made a product. The bottom line is, you can innovate in healthcare without being intimidated.
Q: Why did you decide to innovate in healthcare?
A: I saw a business opportunity, a gap in the market. I figured that something that has been utilized in the same way for a long time, that creates a lot of headaches in hospitals, is ripe for innovation. I saw nurse call cables as a commodity product that were being utilized like they are disposable. So, I wanted to help improve an artifact of the hospital bed.
Q: Bed cables are used as though they are disposable?
A: They are not necessarily in the category of a disposable product; they are more like wine glasses. For some reason, I’m buying 12 more a year because they all get broken. If there were a wine glass that bounced if you dropped it on the floor but still tasted and felt the same, nobody would buy wine glasses anymore. A nurse call cable is similar; it probably breaks every 3-6 months. Nurse call cables are not a high-cost product, but there are headaches around what else it does in the hospital, and that’s what really creates a soft dollar impact for a hospital. When the cable breaks, it damages the bed and the wall and subsequently requires repair. To add to that, it takes time to repair everything, and ends up draining patient satisfaction. A lot of HCAHPS scores are about the patient satisfaction, and the lack of communication from the bed not being plugged in drops these scores. The patient’s ability to alert a nurse of their immediate need is somewhat of a hard feedback point for the hospital -- it shows that hospitals need to work harder to connect their patients to their caregivers. The bottom line: nurse call cables are a product that we see replaced every 6-12 months.
Q: It seems like ensuring the bed is plugged in would be a priority in a hospital.
A: Well, if you look at the hierarchy of bed setup, once the emergency is over with -- the C-Section is done, the baby is safe, and the bed is going back to the room -- you want to make sure mom is comfortable, then you make sure the bed is powered, and finally, you check the cable. When the bed leaves the room, there should never be an expectation that a nurse will care about unplugging things. The hospital is made to care for patients in an emergency situation, which results in ripping monitors and cables out of the wall. But you are getting the patient to the table, so who cares? It’s just what happens. Most importantly, hospitals need to realize that processes or education will not improve the likelihood of a nurse being more careful with equipment. It is only going to get worse and grow more expensive.
A: Hospitals are asked to do more with less. So, our goal is to open up more time for the hospital maintenance staff who are fixing common problems that day to day patient care creates, not by being careless, but by being nurses. If a nurse didn’t break a cable every two months, I would question their level of urgency and priority. If they aren’t breaking cables, they aren’t doing their jobs. We are making something that is indestructible to help save time and make it easier on the nurse and staff who fix the product.
Q: Are there any hidden motivators behind that?
A: The fact that BlackJack is magnetic makes it immediately attractive. A lot of people, when they think about bed cables, think, “Ugh, do I have to deal with this again?” But with BlackJack, nurses can practically throw the cables at the wall and they connect. Every person that maintains a hospital thinks that their hospital is worse than every other hospital because they just can’t believe how easily equipment and cables are destroyed. But it does happen everywhere. We joke about ‘nurse-proof,’ but it’s true. BlackJack is something that the facilities or engineering director is going to emotionally relate to immediately. BlackJack is not just functional -- it lasts and it’s sexy. It’s thoughtful that they are gold-plated spring pins to ensure connectivity and anti-corrosiveness. The number one comment that we get from customers is, “I wish I had thought of that.” If we get people to be aware of this product and they see this issue in their hospital, it will literally be impossible, if they forgot our URL NurseProof.com, to not spend hours searching for BlackJack because they won’t buy another product.
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