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New HIPPA-Compliant Patient Specimen Drop Boxes

Spectrum Health has protocols to ensure that patient health information is never exposed or compromised, but Nick Rambow saw an opportunity to make the process even more fail safe.

Nick Rambow
Nick Rambow
When patients provide urine samples, they are required to put the sample container in a shared drop box or opening in the wall in the bathrooms for the technicians to retrieve. While Nick did not experience any known issues, the risk of someone else seeing PHI was enough to drive him to do something about it.

While Nick had looked for products that were available on the market that would physically prevent the risk of exposing patient health information in these situations, he did not identify any that sufficiently protected PHI and were convenient for both the patient and staff. Nick also regularly conversed with facilities whenever they were building out new locations or remodeling old ones to see if there were any new products available, to no avail. To bring his idea to life, Nick decided to try to design and build a product himself. He brought one of the drop boxes to a local welding company to have them drill a hole in the top. With the metal locking dropbox with hole in hand he was off to Home Depot for PVC pipe. Once home he cut the pipe to fit and called it a night.

The next day Nick brought the box to work for some feedback from staff. He shared the problem, the idea, proposed solution and prototype with his staff for feedback. They were immediately on board. Kimberly Nguyen-Tran worked with facilities for installation. Karina Van Ek and Karen Kehr used the product for several days and provided Nick with feedback and design improvement suggestions.

While sitting at his desk reviewing the minor modifications to the design, Nick noticed the Spectrum Health Innovations brochure that he had received during orientation. He picked it up and filled out the mini innovation disclosure form and mailed it to the Innovations team.

Kristina Emery Innovations clinical specialist, contacted Nick and learned about his idea. SHI worked with Nick on his initial prototype and modified it further to accommodate other situations where PHI may be at risk. After getting Nick’s feedback and keeping best practice in mind, Nick, SHI, and other stakeholders landed on a final design.

Along with developing solution for Spectrum Health, though, Nick and SHI agreed that other health care systems could benefit from these new drop boxes. SHI contacted local health care products company MarketLab and shared the idea with them. MarketLab agreed with the opportunity, and SHI worked with them to negotiate a deal where MarketLab would market and sell the dropboxes online and in their catalog.

After Nick working on the project on and off for about a year, with SHI’s help, the product is now in use in multiple locations and there are three versions licensed and available for sale in the 2018 catalog.

“Honestly, without SH Innovations I would still be trying to make each of these by hand! The team was great to work with, and made the process of taking a cobbled together prototype to a refined finished product easy.” – Nick Rambow

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