#WhyIMake: Helping Diabetics Stay Safe & Healthy

By Ernesto Holguin | 03/13/2018

Ernesto Holguin is a 2017 Infy Maker award winner based in El Paso, TX and a member of Makernurse from MIT. His twenty-two years as a nurse working with thousands of diabetic patients led to him prototyping a telehealth device for diabetic patients.

According to the CDC, more than 100 million US adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes and each year an estimated 1.5 million new cases of adult diabetes are diagnosed. A diabetic patient can develop painless foot sores (diabetic ulcers) which occur 25% of the time. Foot ulcers are a common reason for hospital stays and take weeks (or months) to heal. Per a Medscape February 2018 article, the cost of post-ulcer care and medical intervention is adding a staggering $9-13 billion to the annual cost of diabetes treatment.

As a nurse, it is my job to show each patient how to examine and monitor healing ulcers and prevent future ones. This self-monitoring procedure is best described as attempting to balance on one foot, while simultaneously raising and examining the other foot reflected in a mirror placed on the floor. And then repeat this inspection for the opposite foot. And do this inspection at least once a day. It is unrealistic for an older patient to successfully perform this antiquated procedure. In most cases, my patient has poor vision, limited mobility, little or no family support, and unreliable transportation.

Prototype

What prompted me to create the Drying and Inspection prototype was to innovate this self-monitoring process and make it easier and safer for the patient to successfully do this as part of their regular bathing routine. The prototype includes a base platform, a monitor, a long support handle, a camera, and an air dryer. The patient can either stand on the base or wheel up to it in a wheelchair.

A camera located at the base of platform captures foot images which are displayed on the monitor. A blower assembly forces air through the base platform drying the patient’s feet specifically in-between the toes with complete drying taking 1-2 minutes. All information is transmitted to the Primary Clinician’s office for daily review. Early intervention will take place if warranted oppose to waiting 30 or more days for the next follow up appointment. Thus, saving worsening infections, amputation and deaths.

Medical Grade Device Patent

The Infy Maker Award prize money received in 2017 helped me pay off most of a patent loan and I also invested in creating an actual working prototype. I started OTEN Medical LLC company in December 2017 and am developing a medical grade product for extensive remote patient monitoring through the wireless transmission of high-quality feet images, vitals, and glucose levels—all captured by the OTEN Medical Device.

In addition to the Infy Maker award, I also received recognition in Texas in 2017: Medical Center of the Americas Foundation proof of concept winner in July; a Houston Makerfaire merit award winner in October; I was featured in an October 30th article in El Paso, Inc. magazine.