What it does
ANDY is medical hardware that automatically detaches the needle from a used syringe. 41% of the needlestick injuries occur while separating the syringe. With ANDY, syringe disposal becomes safe and easy, significantly dropping the rate of needlestick injuries.
During our undergraduate years, we took a course entitled 'X Design' which assigned a group project to devise a product intended to solve everyday problems. We first came across the issue of mass infection caused by reused syringes. As we started to dig deeper, we figured out that needlestick injuries and cross-infection were more common and troublesome for nurses, rather than reusing syringes. Such aftermath is serious in most Asian countries, as needles must be removed and discarded separately into the sharps containers. This led us to ideate ANDY, which is a user-friendly, economical disposal device for a safer healthcare work environment.
How it works
ANDY is battery-powered and is structured to perform needle separation and disposal simultaneously through a single cutting process. Once the used syringe is inserted into ANDY, the sensor embedded in the inlet detects the tip of the needle. Then the cutting module, placed at the bottom of the inlet to prevent potential accidents, is activated to separate the needle and barrel. At the same time, disposal of the sharps waste takes place as ANDY is attached to the sharps container. This one-stop action instantly reduces sharps-related injuries to almost zero and expedites the disposal process four-fold. Nearly every size of syringes used in hospitals can be inserted into ANDY, ranging from 1cc to 10cc (6.6mm~17.08mm, ⌀).
Until now, we have produced over 12 prototypes to improve ANDY. Our first prototype was larger and heavier than the current model, so it was unfit for busy, crowded hospitals. The following lightweight, smaller-sized prototypes supplemented such critical shortcomings through CNC machining and laser-cutting. Upon simplifying the parts for mass mold production, we conducted usability tests in hospitals for five times, which we received feedback from the nurses who were the main users. For example, there were concerns over the hygiene, with the blade being stained with blood and medications from the used syringe. Another issue raised was the deteriorating quality of the cutting along with the frequent use of the blade. In order to further improve the product UX, we proactively responded to such feedback by designing the blade as a consumable for the cutter module, so that it can be easily separated and replaced together with sharps waste container. The cutter module can cut 2,000 syringes when paired with a 2L sharps waste container, and it can be replaced every two weeks to maintain high standards of hygiene. The latest version has not only become compact enough to be attached to medical carts but also can be customized for sharps containers in various shapes and sizes.
How it is different
ANDY is unique in that it fully considers both the usability of the main user (nurses) but also the overall hospital environment, unlike existing methods. For one, syringe disposal devices that melt needles with heat are not compact enough to be battery-powered, not to mention their incompatibility with the context of hospitals due to high energy consumption. With these, nurses cannot dispose of the sharps waste immediately, and still face the risk of infection when emptying the waste container. There are also safety-engineered syringes developed for safe disposal, but they cost four to ten times more than other types while imposing an extra burden of removing the hidden needles after use. Compared to these existing methods, ANDY is compact, light, and portable, ensuring both work efficiency and safety of healthcare workers. It is more hospital-friendly as well since it does not emit any smoke or spark during operation.
Since syringes are used worldwide, we plan on scaling up our business to reach out to every hospital across the world. So far, we have been exporting ANDY to Vietnam, Mongolia, and the Philippines, where the infection rates of Hepatitis B, C, and HIV/AIDS are significantly high. Furthermore, we hope to optimize the supply chain by enabling data collection on syringe processing, such as tracking of quantity and types of used syringes. All in all, our ultimate goal is to position ANDY as the global standard of safe syringe disposal, in turn making the whole world safer from needlestick injuries.
We won the Regional Scalability Potential Award at Youth Co:Lab Asia-Pacific Summit 2019 co-hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Citi Foundation.