Project MESA

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Student Organization: Michigan Health Engineered for All Lives

Project MESA [Making Exams Safe and Accessible] is a student-run design team focused on providing high-quality exams for women with our portable, cost-effective gynecological exam table for use by mobile clinics in Nicaragua. The table aims to reach low resource communities and increase access to safe and preventive exams to help reduce the steep cervical cancer mortality rate. Epsilon 1.0, our most recent prototype was redesigned this past year based upon feedback from our partner clinicians in the United States and Nicaragua.

Our current prototype can now support more than 330 lbs., but only weighs 24 lbs., making it easy to transport long distances and reach women in rural areas. Our device has passed all mechanical safety tests, is affordable, and is undergoing usability testing. We have also been designing a supplemental kit to create a holistic exam process for clinicians. This kit includes: portable curtains, a clinician seat, a patient step stool, and a tray for exam equipment.

From a business standpoint, we have been strategizing ways for the most effective implementation of our table in Nicaragua. We have contacted manufacturers and distributors as well as reached out to other organizations that share our vision of improving women’s health in rural countries. We are currently developing a business model to launch a large-scale manufacturing and distribution of our product to the Nicaraguan mobile clinic segment, including both public and private clinics. With continued support, we hope to expand the scope of our pilot launch and impact the lives of more women in Nicaragua.

To learn more about their project, view their original winning entry, below.

Project MESA aims to alleviate the risks of rural exam environments in low-resource settings and facilitate maternal health screenings in Nicaragua with a portable gynecological exam table. The table is collapsible and can be carried like a backpack, eliminating the often unmet need for vehicle transportation. The table is comfortable for both patient and doctor, allowing the doctor to better provide gynecological exams while adding dignity to a rather vulnerable examination. Positioning, along with the table’s sterility, improves test accuracy and enables the doctor to better diagnose patients.

One of the first prototypes has been in use since 2013, providing relevant feedback for improvements. A Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children clinic received the newest prototype in May 2016, with feedback to follow.

The sustainability of the project is anticipated to come in the sale of the table to clinics.