Physician Innovators' New Bedside Table Keeps Comfort, Safety Close at Hand

January 25, 2023
Beth Hart
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A new design by Carle Illinois College of Medicine students is set to make one of the most common pieces of hospital equipment more stable, flexible, and easier to use.  It’s the bedside table that holds everything from water cups to eyeglasses and lifesaving call buttons.

CI MED students have redesigned the common bedside to improve patient care and the workspace for nurses and other medical professionals. The innovation could be a key component of the hospital room of the future, incorporating engineering principles to ensure greater stability, easier use, and better maneuverability.

“The current tables are difficult to maneuver. The legs get caught underneath the beds, the wheels trip over cords and bedside mats and are awkward to maneuver. We wanted to create a new table that would function better and create less maneuverability hassle for patients and providers,” Greg Payne, a fourth-medical student at CI MED, said.

Payne and his partner on the project, fourth-year medical student Bailey MacInnis credit Carle Health nurses and medical staff with inspiring the innovation. “Nurses and patients have been frustrated with the current designs on the market,” Payne said.

Greg Payne
Greg Payne

MacInnis and Payne collaborated with doctors, nurses, and patient-experience staff at Carle Health to develop features that work better in a real-world setting. The new design has no legs to become entangled with the patient bed or with other equipment. It also uses hydraulics to easily adjust tabletop height upward and downward.

While the new design represents a leap toward the hospital room of the future, it also includes features that improve function in older hospital rooms that weren’t originally designed for optimal maneuverability. The new table uses higher-clearance wheels that keep the table stable when rolling over cords and other small obstacles that are common in a hospital setting. The over-the-bed arm folds down flat when it’s not in use to save space, and an integrated cup holder prevents spills when the table is moved. 

Payne says the design will keep all necessary objects close at hand, with stability, safety, and convenience in mind. “Patients and 

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Bailey MacInnis

providers will benefit from having a bedside table that doesn’t get caught on objects in the hospital room. It will be one less hassle that providers have to worry about when caring for their patients.”

The table prototype – produced by students in the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering – will undergo further improvement this spring to make it more attractive and to ensure its cost-effectiveness. “We believe there is a market for this product and with revision and proper testing, our product could be brought to market successfully,” Payne said.

The redesigned overbed table is one of the Capstone Innovations proposed by the future physician innovators in Carle Illinois’ Class of 2023. In the final phase of Carle Illinois’ engineering-based, innovation-oriented curriculum, fourth-year students research a problem identified during their clinical rotations, propose a solution, and then work with a cross-disciplinary team, including engineering students from The Grainger College of Engineering, to develop a new prototype or process that will potentially change the practice of medicine and improve patient outcomes. M.B.A. candidates Sean Bain and Natali Henry are assisting with the business plan for this project. Faculty advisors include Professors Mariana Kersh and Sameh Tawfick (Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering). Mechanical sciences and engineering students Thomas Chapman, Jacob Harris, Julian Herrera, Neil Kotadia, Justin Miner, Ishaan Murarka, and Mason Sotomayor worked to develop a prototype for the bedside table. The Class of 2023 will present their final project designs later in May, just prior to graduation.

Capstone Innovations are supported by The Henry Dale and Betty Smith Family.

Media Contact: Ryann Monahan, Director of Marketing and Communications, ryann@illinois.edu, 217-300-6658