Spectrum Health Innovations connected with Chris Pung and John
Farris, professors of engineering, for help building a prototype. At
that time, in 2017, Heuerman worked for SHI and was the liaison
between the hospital and university. Engineering students were tasked
with designing and building a prototype.
Heuerman said other devices on the market for this purpose at that
time included ceiling lifts or products that provided ergonomic
support like sheets with handles. "They were expensive and still
didn't really protect the patient or the clinician from
injuries," he said.
Nationally, more than 15,000 injuries to health care workers occur
each year from lateral transfers, Heuerman said.
From the start, Heuerman said his conversations with engineering
students focused on lateral transfers from one bed or stretcher to
another. An early prototype was tested with three students lying on
top of each other, while a device created from a vehicle winch pulled
them from one bed to another.
Two years after initially working with Grand Valley students,
Heuerman decided it was time to leave SHI and launch his own company.
"SHI was my dream job. It was risky to leave and start my own
business and it was a very tough decision to make," he said.
He moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, to participate in the Mayo Clinic's
business accelerator program. Mayo Clinic is also a partner and
investor in The Patient Company. SHI licensed the technology to The
Since then, Heuerman and his colleagues have hit the pavement,
bringing SimPull to trade shows, health care conferences and
hospitals. SimPull is patented, with Grand Valley students having
partial ownership on the patent and also splitting a portion of the
proceeds with SHI.
He expects SimPull to be in area and statewide hospitals by early
next year. The product is manufactured in Illinois.
Next up for The Patient Company is a device that turns and rotates a
patient 180 degrees. Engineering students under Farris’ guidance have
completed work on a prototype that has been patented and is moving
toward final development.