DIY Maker-Care Players—At Every Level—Are Already 3DP-Producing “Exo-Solutions” To Meet Human Health Needs For Non-Invasive, Patient-Specific Prostheses, Devices & Systems: Next, The Front-Line Foot-Soldier Of DIY Health Practitioners—The Nurse!—Will Be 3DP-Empowered…
As we discussed in our last post—”Printing Exo-Solutions For Non-Invasive ‘HuBod Printed’ Healthcare…” of 2 June—DIY Maker Care innovators are devising entirely new healthcare solutions to meet a broad spectrum of human needs.
These Maker Care creators span the gamut from the uncredentialed, non-commercial in home-based and informal “Maker Spaces” to highly sophisticated, “edu-biz” collaborators combining 3DP proceeds from cutting-edge academic labs and “mechatronic” industrial floors. The 3DP innovations produced along this broadly defined, Maker-Care spectrum might start at one edge with 3DP’d, DIT (Do-It-Together), GET (Good-Enough Tech) and muscle-mech-powered prosthetic hands (“Robohand“). At another 3DP’d extreme is highly sophisticated and engineered exo-skeleton Wearable Robots that respond to thought-commands by the paraplegic walker (“Walk Again”)
Now, under the radar (isn’t this typically where the action is?), we find another locus where 3DP and Human Health are about to cross-pollinate. The Maker ethos is empowering DIY medi-mechatronic mash-ups to meet the missions of nurses and care-givers in healthcare institutions.
These stealth innovations begin—as we will see—with nurses devising “medico kludges” by cobbling them up in the supply closets of nursing units on the hospital floor.
Jose Gomez-Marquez, Program Director for the “Innovations in International Health” initiative at MIT, also leads the Little Devices Lab at MIT, spoke at Maker Faire Bay Area on 23 May 2014 on the topic of “Makers in the Nursing Unit: Lessons Learned from America’s Amazing MakerNurses.” Fascinating—as you can see in this YouTube video!
We’ve spoken before on this blog—and in this “3DP & Human Health” post series—about the democratization of technology, innovation and product-making delivered by 3DP. This democratization is typically an empowerment of people with visions of better ways to accomplish what needs to be done for the betterment of others.
Now, as Jose Gomez-Marquez says in his Maker Faire Bay Area presentation last month, “What we’re trying to do is to make affordable medical devices for everyone.”
Professor Gomez-Marquez has a unique perspective on worldwide efforts to provide low-cost and accessible tools of health. He studies the action and opines on it as Program Director for MIT’s “Innovations in International Health” initiative.
Gomez-Marquez is finding medi-hackers everywhere. And—in the Human Health exigencies of life and death—extreme ingenuity comes from extreme need. To illustrate what people in extremis can accomplish, the Professor has even discovered a healthcare DIYer who managed to hand-fabricate a working—and effective—dialysis machine.
Even in the most invasive of procedures—repairing a beating heart—Gomez-Marquez points to the success of DIY ingenuity. He states that balloon angioplasty was a kitchen-table hack by a doctor with no R, D & D budget kludging up solutions in his kitchen.
Now, a desktop 3D Printer can sit on that kitchen table or in that nurses’ supply closet. What hacked healthcare innovations are likely to bubble up from the DIY/DIT (Do-It-Together) stew? Especially when nurse practitioners can apply their (literally!) hands-on expertise—and caregiver ethos—in Maker-style creativity 3DP-enabled?
Professor Gomez-Marquez is “hacking” the nurse’s world—and their medical-hardware innovation sensibilities—to learn from the culture that is known for bedside ingenuity. In 2013, he and his team “launched MakerNurse…to find inventive nurses around the country who combine the Maker ethic with their own mission to heal patients.”
Gomez-Marquez has already learned that “healthcare has lots of blackbox designs: biomed design is blackbox mentality.” So, opening the “blackbox,” hacking and reverse-engineering and innovating takes a special chutzpa-mindset among Maker Nurses.
So, the Professor opines that “Making in healthcare is less about technology and more about social, hierarchical and class issues.” He further states that “Nurse Makers are not prevalent in academic [based healthcare] centers: [Maker Nurses there] see the track of innovation as very advanced” and thus less susceptible to their DIY hacking. Not surprisingly, the Nurse Maker action is more readily found “mostly in small to medium-sized healthcare institutions.”
Or—asked another way—does authority, gate-keeping and credentialism stifle innovation? Hmm. Nurses: perhaps your traditional “stealth mode” of making (better) things happen for your patients—and hiding the 3D Printer in your supply closet—is still best??