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93% Of Bedsores Can Now Be Prevented

The Business Problem

Bedsores presently affect an estimated 2.5 million patients in U.S. acute care facilities each year, including nearly one out of 10 patients in hospitals and almost one-third of patients in long-term acute care. They cause the death of approximately 60,000 patients each year, a mortality rate equivalent to the opioid crisis. The annual cost to the U.S. health care system is estimated as $26.8 billion, and patients with bedsores typically stay in hospitals an additional 9.1 days.

Until recently, hit-or-miss visual inspection of skin and tissue had been the only way to detect bedsores. And no way at all existed to identify areas of the body that were at risk for developing bedsores before skin redness or any other visual evidence existed to indicate their presence. Unfortunately, once bed sores become visible on the skin’s surface, damage has already occurred.

The Client’s Challenge

Based upon technology licensed from a university, Los Angeles-based BBI (formerly Bruin Biometrics) sought to perfect a hand-held device to detect developing bedsores before they broke the skin – a world and clinical first.

Our Solution

An earlier hand-held model with touch-screen interface and a stationary battery charger needed obvious ergonomic improvements. MPE (Formerly Mindflow Design) was asked to re-conceptualize both elements by employing design research, human factors engineering, industrial design, user interface design and mechanical and electrical engineering.

We learned that the touchscreen display/controls should be moved to the same side of the sensor that makes patient contact, an approach that without actual observation of nurses would appear counter-intuitive. Users are able to hold the device in different orientations around targeted body parts in one hand while simultaneously manipulating the patient’s position with the other. The device now rests comfortably in even a small nurse’s hand and has a touch screen with a display that is intuitive and easy to use, transmitting data wirelessly once re-placed in the charging hub. 

A single-use “floating head” sensor makes readings easy, particularly on overweight people or small body locations like the heel. The single-use feature allows nurses to clean the device between patient uses simply and quickly by replacing a disposable sensor cover and wiping the device with approved wipes. The single-use sensor also helps nurses manage the burden of disinfection and infection control. Having no metal contacts or holes in the enclosure makes wiping the entire device very effective.

The small charging hub we designed allows many chargers to be placed next to each other, creating a compact charging center for multiple devices. 

Nurses now receive cues to re-position patients immediately up to five days before bedsore damage is visible. With this early risk assessment tool, 93% of bedsores can now be prevented and institutional goals of zero bedsores are now reachable. The device is especially useful in caring for dark-skinned people whose injuries the visual inspection method missed.

Ergonomics benefited from conducting repeated usability studies with actual users and creating multiple prototype iterations with user testing of each one.


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