A new Spectrum Health Innovations product is expected to cut down on catheter-related infections in women and push convenience ratings up.

Mary Tibbe, a nurse practice associate for Spectrum Health cardiothoracic services, noticed a need for an alternative to indwelling urinary catheters. Hence the creation of the external urinary device for women.

As part of a quality task group, Tibbe noticed catheter-associated urinary tract infections were prevalent, especially in critical care areas.

“As part of that, we were evaluating alternatives,” Tibbe said. “We realized females do not have a good alternative.”

A co-worker suggested Tibbe bring the issue to Spectrum Health Innovations.

In early 2015, Tibbe began working with Spectrum Health Innovations manager Scott Daigger, who then enlisted Grand Valley State University students to help in the design process.

The students built models, computer-assisted designs and 3-D prototypes.

A prototype is now available and about to enter the test phase. The discreet device attaches with adhesive and includes a tube for drainage. It can be used while the patient is in bed or up and walking around.

“I’m excited for it,” Tibbe said. “I think it will fill a large need that we have nationwide.”

The product could be used not only for hospital patients but for incontinent women and patients in long-term care facilities.

“I’m really excited we can provide something like this for patients to help them keep their dignity and keep them from harm (infections),” Tibbe said.

Kristina Emery, clinical innovations nurse at Spectrum Health Innovations, said the external urinary device is a great alternative to an indwelling catheter.

“I think it gives women and health care professionals an alternative to having to put in an indwelling catheter,” Emery said.

The goal is to reduce catheter use and hospital-acquired infections, according to Emery. Catheters are known for their potential to cause urinary tract infections.

“It’s a catheter alternative, which is fabulous,” she said. “Anytime a catheter is used, this is a risk for causing infection, which can be dangerous.”

Emery said the device is a perfect match for ICU patients who are unable to control their voiding. She also sees potential future use in long-term care and nursing home settings and for those who are incontinent.

“This is going to be an excellent device,” she said. “It’s modest and discrete and can hide under clothing.”

Spectrum Health Innovations is currently working with the Applied Medical Device Institute at Grand Valley State University on the next phase of development.

“We’re going to be doing some volunteer testing in May,” Emery said. “Volunteers will be testing the device for development purposes—Did the device stay on? Did the device collect urine like it should?”

Additional clinical testing could be as early as next year, Emery said.

“It’s going to be very exciting,” she said.