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Quickfire Challenge

Nurse Innovations: What Do Ear Stimulation and Wound Dressing Have in Common?

It is well-known that nurses have a knack for problem-solving and “MacGyvering” approaches when patient needs surpass the tools at hand.

Recognizing nurse-led ingenuity, Johnson & Johnson, in collaboration with AORN at last year’s annual conference, launched the “Nurses Innovate Quickfire Challenge in Perioperative Care” to seek out the top innovations with the potential to improve perioperative care.

Over 100 nurses submitted applications and a year later, the two  awardees are hard at work refining their potential solutions (each with $50,000 in grant funding from J&J, access to the Johnson & Johnson Innovation- JLABS ecosystem, and mentoring) and planning for clinical trials: One a non-invasive, nonpharmacological pain management device, the other an easy-to-use standard bandage for head wounds and amputated limbs.

“Every day, nurses bring resourcefulness and deep patient experience to their work, intuitively seeing challenges and opportunities in improving care for patients,” said Lynda Benton, Senior Director of Corporate Equity at Johnson & Johnson, who leads the Johnson & Johnson commitment to nurses. “Nurses are uniquely positioned to create potential innovative solutions for healthcare’s greatest challenges, and we’re proud to celebrate and support the Awardees of our first ever Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge in Perioperative Care and their solutions that aim to transform perioperative care.”

Wireless Auricular Point Stimulation (APS)©

Chao Hsing Yeh
Chao Hsing Yeh, PhD, RN, Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing

After treating patients struggling with pain and opioid addition, Chao Hsing Yeh, PhD, RN, Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, developed Wireless Auricular Point Stimulation (APS)© incorporating Eastern acupressure techniques with 21st century technology.

“Ear acupressure is a very powerful treatment,” Hsing explains. Because the ear is highly sensitive with points that connect to the rest of the body, acupressure there can work for both acute and chronic pain. She believes her device can especially help as a non-opioid option for surgical patients post-op.

Her device uses a small pad with electrodes, placed on the ear and connected wirelessly to an app through which a patient can control the frequency and intensity of stimulation.

“I’m hoping people in the U.S. will have the opportunity to know this treatment and incorporate it into pain self-management,” the Taiwan native says. “It only takes a little pressure to work, and you can get relief within one or two minutes. It’s not invasive compared to other treatments. It’s low-cost, with very minimum side effects.” She hopes to begin feasibility testing by summer, and then seek FDA approval.

HERO Bandage

Debbie Kantor
Debbie Kantor, APRN, Co-Founder at HERO Medical

Debbie Kantor, APRN, Co-Founder at HERO Medical says her “aha” moment came in 2013 when the Jacksonville, FL gerontology nurse was making a home health visit and needed to change the dressing on a patient’s lower leg amputation. “I saw what was in the supplies bag and nothing really fits well.”

Her practice also saw older adult patients who experience a high incidence of falls. “They need a bandage dedicated to head wounds, there never has been one.”

For heads or appendages, “not much has changed in wound care for centuries,” she says, adding that nurses are told to change the dressing as needed – but not how to wrap it, how much gauze, or how tight.

Spending lunch breaks and evenings sewing materials and trying different variations, she developed HERO Bandage – a single, sterile package that can cover a larger part of a wound in less time than a normal dressing would take, including full head coverage.

Next step: a feasibility study with a neurologist to test speed of use compared to current standards. She hopes to demonstrate the HERO Bandage is faster to use, has the potential to stem blood flow, prevent the need for transfusion, and improve patient comfort – ideal for pre-hospitalists.

For post-surgical patients, she plans to add ports to accommodate drains, and possibly sensors with the aim to make it easier for nurses to detect early if a wound is festering. “We want to test how quickly you can peek at a wound, with a goal to demonstrate it could decrease SSIs.”  

She’s transitioned full-time to work on the HERO. “It’s exciting and a bit terrifying. They say an innovator thinks of ideas. An entrepreneur executes them. I’m still learning how to become an entrepreneur.”