Makerhealth : The Leading Platform That Brings The Maker Movement Into Health Care

Their goal sounds simple at first, but the MIT website Makerhealth.co has the potential to connect and empower millions of nurses, doctors, and patients around the globe, while at the same time becoming the hub for healthcare innovation. “At MakerHealth we believe in democratizing the tools of health making around the world”, states the lately re-launched website. “Whether it’s a hospital bed, smart pill bottle, or an improved triage mobile phone app, we believe that design should be transparent, hackable, and enabling for everyone to be the designers and makers of their own healthcare solutions.”

Why is it a platform?

Why is Makerhealth.co a platform? Gaining more and more expertise in building MakerHealth Spaces across the country and the globe, the data feeds into several databases, the platform can improve its MakerHealth Spaces, the processes for the users, and also collects an ever growing number of health devices hacks for its website. It is open-source and proprietary.

How does it work?

Roxana Reyna and her newly developed device

Nurses, doctors, or even patients and their families come up with the ideas and design for a medical tool that would really improve their situation. Roxana Reyna for instance, a nurse from Corpus Christi, Texas, is a daily caregiver to babies that are born with abdominal wall defects. These children undergo intensive surgery for the first two or three months of their lives. Reyna created a wound care device that allows these tiny patients to recover in half the time (2 months instead of 4) and with little risk of infection. This new device costs a fraction of what it would cost a big pharmaceutical firm to develop and produce, and it was of course much faster to develop it exactly to the needs of her patients and experiment with the design. Roxana Reyna trialed her idea in the MakerHealth Space at her hospital, and developed a protocol that she shared online on the MakerHealth.co website. Other can now use this protocol for free, look up the pictures and materials, and are guided step-by-step through the process of rebuilding the device. Roxana Reyna could make time in her busy schedule, because MakerHealth, through user-centered design, has developed a process that integrates prototyping into the organization of a hospital and the daily routines and workflow of nurses and doctors. In addition, they recruited an engineer to work with the health care community and train them on the tools, like 3-D-printers, laser cutters and others.

What’s next?

Everything on MakerHealth.co is not just open for reuse, but explicitly published for reuse with the aim to foster even more innovation that builds on already published health hacks. The website grows on an almost daily basis and so do the datasets. International expansion is planned, and both developing countries and developed countries are eager to implement MakerHealth Spaces into their healthcare system: developing countries like Nicaragua because this makes quality healthcare more widely accessible, and developed countries like Germany because it cuts the exploding costs of its hospital system.

A PVC Feeding Tube developed by a MakerHealth participant
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