First-ever Rite Aid Innovation Challenge was managed by Edison Nation Medical
Jamie Jordan is thrilled to have won a national innovation challenge—not just because of the long odds of being selected by a Fortune 500 company to bring his product to market, but because other numbers have gotten his attention.
In February 2016, the industrial sales solution specialist from Grapevine, Texas and creator of the Comfort Cane learned his product was selected as the top innovation in the first-ever Rite Aid Innovation Challenge. His ergonomic walking cane has three legs that function independently and provide added stability, especially when walking over uneven surfaces such as snow or gravel. It uses a spring-loaded, shockabsorbing system that helps limit hand, wrist, shoulder and back pain often associated with the use of traditional walking canes.
Jordan has more than comfort in mind with his invention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospital emergency rooms treat more than 47,000 people age 65 and older each year for injuries caused when they fall while using canes and walkers.
“We sought to develop a much safer quad cane because my friend, a physical therapist named Randy Misenheimer, told me that so many of his patients were falling after graduating from a single-tip cane to a quad-tip cane,” Jordan said. “A quad cane is much more stable than a single-tip cane—as long as you’re not walking. So is a fencepost, but you can’t walk really well with either one. If you have any kind of a normal gait where one foot is actually moving in front of the other foot, the traditional quad cane is going to tilt, and some tips will end up off the ground.
“With the Comfort Cane, all three tips stay firmly on the ground and you can roll through a normal gait. It grabs the ground at all three of its points of contact at the same time to minimize falling.”
The Comfort Cane was one of more than 100,000 innovation submissions that have been reviewed by Edison Nation historically, and was licensed to Rite Aid after it selected the invention to introduce to consumers in-store and online.
Jordan said the Comfort Cane universally gets positive reactions. “At first, people don’t necessarily get that the device has springy, shock absorber legs,” he said. “Once they feel it and lean on it they go, ‘Wow! That’s really different.’”
Extensive national search Rite Aid launched the Innovation Challenge in order to give its employees, customers and independent inventors around the world the opportunity to have their new health and wellness ideas brought to market by one of the largest pharmacy chains in the world. The challenge involved submissions from Rite Aid associates, their consumers across the country and Edison Nation members. All submissions went through an extensive eight-stage evaluation process managed by Edison Nation Medical, which was engaged by Rite Aid to direct and host the search. The Comfort Cane is expected to be launched for sale in many of Rite Aid’s 4,600 stores and online at www.riteaid.com this spring. “We congratulate and thank Jamie for participating in Rite Aid’s first-ever Innovation Challenge,” said David Abelman, Rite Aid executive vice president of marketing. “Rite Aid is excited to introduce the Comfort Cane to customers as part of our existing home health care offering, and we think it will be well received by patients and customers who use canes, as well as caregivers, as a safe solution for maintaining daily mobility.” Gregg Smith, partner and chief innovation officer of Edison Nation Medical, said: “Edison Nation Medical was honored to have been engaged by Rite Aid to manage and host the in – novation search. We operate the largest health care innovation marketplace with deep expertise in open innovation, product development and health care, And it was exciting working with Rite Aid management and reviewing the many new and unique product ideas that were submitted.”
Design was an Obstacle
During this process, Jordan, Misenheimer and Simon Chen (vice president of RANjAM, which manufactures walking canes and accessories) began working to make the Comfort Cane manufacturable but initially had problems, especially with the design. “We initially had trouble communicating the design concept of the cane to the company we were working with,” Jordan said. “The first design we saw had shock-absorber legs but looked like something out of a lunar landing. I wasn’t showing that to anybody.”
Eventually, Jordan turned to his niece. Tiffany Kallor, the lead interior architect designer for the newly constructed, state-ofthe-art University of Texas-Southwest Hospital facility in Dallas, suggested the use of SketchUp, free 3D modeling software. “We went in and started creating,” Jordan said. “That was a major challenge, getting a walkable, 3D model.”
The Comfort Cane is more than 10 years in the making, so Jordan is excited about seeing the product in Rite Aid stores. “This is a great honor and opportunity, and we’re so grateful to Rite Aid for bringing it to market and Edison Nation for their work in recommending our innovation,” he said