Where does the everyday inventor get inspiration?  While some may have a sudden epiphany in a moment of frustration, others get their ideas in the process of creating or simply observing common “workarounds”.  A workaround is a bypass of a recognized problem.  It’s generally considered a temporary fix that implies there is a need for a more permanent solution. It infers that there should be a quicker, more efficient or better way to accomplish a task, but there isn’t a method currently available.  And this is where the opportunity for invention lies!

The term “workaround” is commonly used with regards to computers or industrial work flow, but it has also been adopted by health care — in fact, in our discussions with healthcare workers around the globe, we were surprised to learn that even nurses as far away as New Zealand commonly use this term to describe workplace fixes.  Healthcare workers use workarounds regularly to help in solving patient issues. Inventions that came from workarounds include gadgets to help open jars, waterproof chairs that can go in the shower, and specially designed grips on knives and utensils. At times, these cobbled-together solutions can be patented and commercialized by a savvy entrepreneur and thus shared with others facing the same challenge.

That’s what happened with Bob Heitkamp when he was a hospitalized and unable to fall asleep due to fear of displacing his IV in his sleep.  He observed the taping used by the nurses to keep the tubing in place and came up with the Site Saver®, a device that attaches the IV needle and tubing to the patients hand securely and comfortably.  The Site Saver solves a problem not only for healthcare professionals who must frequently replace IVs, but more importantly, for the patients whose lives often depend on the IV staying intact. Using workarounds as inspiration for the next innovation is a path many successful everyday inventors have taken with great reward and satisfaction. Of course, a big part of the challenge is in opening our eyes and minds wide enough to recognize the workarounds that are right in front of us, rather than becoming complacent and accepting of these as final solutions.

Edison Nation Medical’s mission is to harness human brilliance in order to disrupt healthcare. We make this a reality by providing a clear and easy pathway through our open innovation platform for anyone — physicians, nurses, entrepreneurs, even patients and caregivers — to submit a medical invention idea for full evaluation and potential commercialization.  We are always interested in hearing innovative ideas that can replace common workarounds and solve other major healthcare challenges.  To learn more, click here.