• A Novel Airway Taping System ‘Born from Nursing’

    Today we speak with CRNA and entrepreneur Kelly Good, whose idea was sparked by a lightbulb moment at a patient’s bedside.

    The Innovator’s Circle

    Kelly Good, CRNADo you find that there is a latent entrepreneurial spirit in many CRNAs?

    Kelly:  Yes, and I think it comes from the heart of nursing actually.  Nurses spend so much time at the bedside, and in that day-to-day care, we have an opportunity to look through a different lens about how things can be done.  We just approach things differently.  So, I definitely sense the spirit in many CRNAs, but I also think it’s found across the board as nurses.  Problem-solving speaks to who we are as providers.

    That brings us to your concept for the KC Airway Taping System.  What unmet medical need did you perceive?

    Kelly:  This idea was born from nursing.  It came from a day of work back in 2015.  I had 13 plus years in the profession.  One day, I reached for a roll of tape to secure my airway.  The patient had a bit of extra secretions around their mouth so, once I had placed my endotracheal tube, my gloves were wet from the secretions, and this was the second patient of my day.  So, I reached back to grab the roll of tape to secure the tube and I realized, just out of nowhere, that I had just used that tape.  It stopped me in my tracks.

    It was a lightbulb moment for me that then spurred curiosity.  I thought maybe there was a solution out there that would just be a simple replacement.  The further I dug, the more realization came that there wasn’t.  I asked a lot of practitioners, reached out through a variety of different resources and asked, is everybody doing this—or is this just us?  And everybody was utilizing rolls of tape because that’s how we’ve always done it.

    Tape’s an awesome tool.  But with awareness comes responsibility.  That is what pushed me into pursuit of a solution and that’s when the KC Airway Taping System evolved.  After finding an incredible business partner who brought expertise I lacked, I was able to bring my clinical expertise, research mindset, and analysis of data into the effort we are currently pursing.

    What has the initial feedback been from your CRNA colleagues?

    Kelly:  Where I work, my anesthesia colleagues have been aware of its development and intention.  It has sparked a pilot study that was awarded a grant by the AANA Foundation.  They are—for the first time, I think—looking at the possibility of an individually-packaged, guaranteed clean tape to change surgical outcomes with regard to rates of infection.  Naturally, I’m blinded to the nature of their study, so I can’t speak to specifics.  But they have been able to utilize our product as it allowed a clean tape control.

    The value of our product is to provide a clean tape solution for the patient’s benefit.  CRNAs seemingly across the board are quick to admit and acknowledge that tape is dirty.  Or, if they never paid attention to it, when we create that awareness, it’s an “aha moment” for them—much like I experienced in 2015.  Most will say, oh my goodness, we never even thought about it that way.  Then, if that CRNA finds value in clean tape for the patient’s benefit, they love the idea, they love the product, they love what it’s seeking to do.  If the CRNA doesn’t see tape as a potential threat to patient care or something that wouldn’t make an impact one way or another, then they might be less inclined to learn something new.  So, part of our work has been education.  [Our product] has a very short but steep learning curve, but within two tries most people feel like it’s just as flexible, just as adaptable, and just as secure as their tape equivalent.

    You mentioned a short learning curve.  Does it require a demonstration?

    Kelly:  We’ve done our very best to create educational accompaniments to adoption.  We have printed tutorials and video.  We can also do Facetime.  When people can see it, do it, and then naturally teach it, they are off and running without even a moment’s hesitation.

    That’s the innovation unique to nurse anesthesiologists:  we use what we know to make it best for us versus many products out there that come by way of engineers or other designers that aren’t reflective of our day to day.

    It sounds as if you don’t really have a direct competitor in this field.  Is that correct?

    Kelly:  To our awareness, individually packaged short rolls of tape that would be the types utilized in airway management practice are not in existence.  That’s what initiated this entire march.  We perceived a well-substantiated need in the care of patients that hadn’t been addressed.  Truly, just in the name of clean care.

    Tape as a roll is just inherently dirty.  There is research from the mid-1970s whose lead investigators, at the conclusion of their study felt, they had identified a potential vector for infection transmission—not only from provider to patient, but from patient to provider.  It opened the door of awareness that has been studied in abundance since.  We fit the space between a medical device that is a tape product but is better by being packaged and designed for its specific use. Yet it’s more cost competitive than, say, an endotracheal tube holder that is designed and marketed for an ICU patient.  We’re kind of holding a space right in the middle.

    Your CRNA colleagues might spur adoption in their institutions by saying, “We need this.”  But an essential audience are those measuring cost who may or may not be amenable to the voice of the frontline CRNA.  How are you addressing them?

    Kelly:  When I had that “aha moment” back in 2015, it felt so obvious—that it was just the right thing for patient care.  Since the 70s, we know that tape has been identified as a vector.  Used between multiple patients, it has been implicated in healthcare-acquired infections that are antibiotic resistant and which cost tens of thousands of dollars.  The research continues to confirm it.  We know that healthcare-acquired infections are not only costly to the healthcare system, they’re costly to patients in terms of quality of life.  We know that contributors to these infections are multi-faceted.  But when we know that tape is being shared, we know it’s dirty.  It seems so obvious from a medical decision-making standpoint.

    If that’s not enough, put yourself in the shoes of the patient surrendering their complete trust to a provider to provide the very best care they’re capable of—to protect their health and well-being with sound decision-making.  I don’t think there’s a person out there who would sign up for a roll of tape to be used on their mouth that was just used on the patient before them anymore then we go into restaurants and share cups or silverware.

    How would you advise other CRNAs considering an entrepreneurial venture?  What would you tell them from what you’ve learned?

    Kelly:  I would say that the innovation learning curve is very steep, so ask a ton of questions and surround yourself with great advisors and resources.  My business partner is an incredible complement in skills that I lack as a clinician.

    Be open to pivot—to the awareness that your original idea might not be the idea you move forward with.  Be open to what may seem like failure—the things you think are going to push you forward might redirect you into something you’re not expecting.  It’s not necessarily a failure, but it might feel like one.

    Also, it must become more than just a hobby.  The process is slow.  People like to say, oh you’re going to strike it rich.  I assure you, people do not enter into this space for money.  It’s an extraordinary amount of time, effort, energy, and financial investment with no guarantees.  You have to be willing to get into the space and stay there with no ensured outcome.  But, if you continue to be tickled by something and you continue to come back to it, chances are it’s worth the pursuit—and you’ll never know until you try.

    Finally, I’ll add that through the AANA, I see real opportunity for clinician-motivated innovators seeking a solution to a problem.  Our professional organization is yet another pathway to showcase who we are and what we’re about.  In leading through these efforts, we show our value among many other values that we hold as providers.  And it’s not simply innovation.  Yes, there is a lot of opportunity here related to our product, but also related to our profession as we advocate for ourselves and our patients.

    As CRNAs, our value is people—in looking after those we’re responsible to take care of.  And, aside from the science, our moral conscience tells us we can do better.  Then when you apply the science, it just affirms everything that we know.  We just have to hold ourselves accountable to a solution that will be as universal as the item that we’re attempting to replace.

    I feel strongly that our offering is a pretty great solution, but with adoption it will only continue to get better, to become more fine-tuned to special needs or special adhesives.  It’s time to utilize all our technological advances in the world of adhesives and tapes and apply them—like everything else we’re doing in terms of medical upgrades.

    If I’m not mistaken, the role of tape began in 1845.  It was a surgeon who put some rubber adhesive cement-type material on the back of fabric to use for surgical dressing.  And yes, we evolved in tape materials and types of tapes.  But we have stayed stuck in the habits of reusing a roll of tape.  It’s time now to use what we have learned and better fit it across the delivery of care.  It just feels like the right thing to do.

    Learn more about Kelly and her innovation at her website through which you can also view videos and obtain samples at no cost.


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