‘Fake finger’ research at Kan. college gets noticed

The plastic SA Finger allows students to simulate blood draws for glucose testing. It was developed and marketed by staff at Johnson County Community College in Kansas. (Photo: JCCCC)

Johnson County Community College (JCCC) is taking calls from large research universities after it conceived, developed and marketed an unusual product it calls “fake fingers.”

The plastic SA Finger, which holds liquid, allows students to simulate blood draws for glucose testing. The Kansas City Star reports it’s the first product conceived, funded, developed and marketed by the college.

It has attracted orders from the University of North Carolina and Texas Tech, as well as from Australia and Canada.

“It’s a community college doing what’s expected of a research university,” said Dr. David Zamierowski, a retired plastic surgeon and medical adviser for the college’s Healthcare Simulation Center. “Taking an idea, patenting it, trying to sell it and then deciding to manufacture it itself.”

Zamierowski, who is also a courtesy professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center, holds more than 50 patents for wound care devices. He and JCCC nursing professor Kathy Carver developed the SA Finger for the simulation center, which is set up like a hospital wing and uses manikins as patients.

Nursing students use the fake fingers to practice glucose testing, which is vital for the increasing number of diabetic patients.

A team effort

After Zamierowski and Carver thought of the product, they had little luck selling the idea. So they made it themselves, with about $50,000 from the JCCC Foundation. The funds paid for patent applications, an engineering consultant, an initial manufacturing fee, a marketing consultant and a trademark.

Various departments became involved and the project became part of the curriculum.

“We could involve the students at every stage and make it a simulation for the marketing students, make it a simulation for the design students, make it a simulation for the graphic artists,” Zamierowski said.

The finished product launched in June and orders were received for about 100 SA FingerStick Glucose Testing Simulation Kits, costing $95 each. Carver said they will watch to see what happens now that the product is out on the market. Royalties are split between the inventors, the department and the college.

Zamierowski said he hopes other departments are inspired to tap the college’s investment capital.

“A good idea for a product that’s small but important,” Zamierowski said. “We hope this spreads through the whole college.”

How the SA Finger was developed

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