Spokane Journal of Business

2021 Rising Stars: Crimson Medical Solutions’ Stephen Bone

Company aims to reduce medical complications

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Stephen Bone, the CEO and cofounder of Crimson Medical Solutions Inc. uses the word “stoked” to describe his excitement for the company’s simple but practical advance in intravenous safety equipment, called the IV Manager.

“I’m so excited about this product,” he says. “It’ll be the standardization of IV line organization.”

Bone says Crimson Medical Solutions has developed a simple color-coding and labeling device that can streamline intravenous lines for medical officials needing to track medications for patients requiring three or more intravenous lines.

The fundamental premise is to organize the tangle of multiple lines into a more orderly fashion.

The company contends on its website that 28,000 people die in the U.S. each year due to medical errors that occur when incorrect medications are given intravenously, often a function of confusion related to the challenge of reading multiple medications assigned to each intravenous line, Bone says.

Bone, 23, co-founded the company in 2019, the same year he completed his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Washington State University.

Ryan Arnold, the director of regional entrepreneurial strategy at North Idaho College, says, “I’ve known Stephen for a short time but have been left impressed by his drive and determination as a young entrepreneur in our region looking to find solutions through his work.”

Recently, Crimson Medical Solutions took first place in the 2021 Northwest Entrepreneurial Challenge open division. Bone is growing Crimson Medical Solutions through WSU’s technology company incubator sp3nw with grant funding support from Greater Spokane Incorporated. Spokane-based intellectual property law firm Lee & Hayes PC is helping the company with the patenting process. 

To date, Crimson Medical Solutions has yet to generate revenue, Bone says.

“It’s an extremely complicated space to break into the market,” he says of developing products in the health care sector.

But a product trial with Pullman Regional Hospital—and separate contract negotiations with a manufacturer and distributor he declines to disclose—has Bone and his business partners optimistic about getting their product to market.

“The first year-and-a-half to two years, honestly, has been students growing into professionals,” he says of fellow cofounders Tyler Sager and Tanner Stahl.

A native of Lake Tapps, Washington, 18 miles east of Tacoma, Washington, Bone chose to attend WSU over several other schools to earn his bachelor’s degree.

“My undergrad was interesting because I finished the engineering degree in about three years,” he says. “Then I started working on the company and then stayed a fourth year to get a minor in entrepreneurship to gain some business background.”

For their bioengineering capstone project class, Bone says he, Sager, and Stahl partnered for an assignment that required them to start a company and develop a product for the health care industry, he says.

“The idea of having to create, then solve, and execute is an interesting task and definitely challenging for a good amount of people,” he says.

Students in the class also had to develop a product manual while soliciting testimonials from potential customers as to whether they had a valid product.

“We really leaned into it and started to take other classes alongside this one that WSU offered,” he says.

In their early conversations, the trio discovered a common theme: each knew several medical professionals, specifically nurses, through family or friends. Bone, for example, has a sister who is a nurse, he says.

“We learned they felt that they sometimes don’t have the tools to do the best job that they can,” he says. “And this problem around frustrations with trying to keep track of IV lines came up surprisingly often.”

Through interviews with nurses, doctors, and medical administrators, Bone and his fellow co-founders learned that medical assistants and nurses are highly praised for knowing how to “MacGyver” their way to creating fixes that sometimes arise in problems that occur while patients are being treated.

“Nurses are extremely resourceful, but they should have better tools in front of them to be able to do their job,” he says.

 

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