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College for Creative Studies Alumni Feature:

When Michael Forbes decided to major in product design, he never imagined that he would one day revolutionize the design of health care products. Forbes was recently listed among Crain’s Detroit Business’s “40 under 40” for his cutting edge work at The Henry Ford Innovation Institute (HFII) in Detroit.

“Where I work is best described as a health care focused design consultancy except that our clients are employees of Henry Ford Health System,” Forbes said.

“I work with Henry Ford ‘Inventors’ to design solutions to the problems they face.

On any given day, I could be working with a surgeon who has an idea for a new device design that improves surgery, a nurse's idea for better patient care or some other idea that aims at improving healthcare. Every project is evaluated for marketability, intellectual property and potential licensing opportunities with companies in healthcare who will manufacture and sell the product.”

Leading the design and development of the acclaimed “Model G” patient gown has been the highlight of Forbes’s career. The gown evolved out of a sponsored studio between CCS and Henry Ford Health System. After the class ended, Forbes set out to transform early concepts from student work into a fully integrated product for the hospital. This evolved into the Henry Ford "Model G" patient gown.

The “Model G” features a closed back with UN-compromised clinical access, imaging safe snaps instead of ties, color coded assembly features for the user and an implied collar promoting a greater sense of dignity for patients. It has been featured on The Today Show, Ellen and NCIS and awarded a 2014 Edison Award. Requests for the gown have poured in from facilities all over the world.

“It ‘s been rewarding to lead such a large project so early in my career,” said Forbes. “As part of the design and development process, I was tasked with setting up a clinical trial with nurses, patenting the design through work with attorneys, organizing a collaboration with Carhartt for manufacturing and negotiating a licensing agreement with Medline Industries to make it available to hospitals.”

In addition to his work on the “Model G,” Forbes is working with a team from the Henry Ford Hospital to pioneer the use of 3D printing in health care. They have been developing pre-surgical planning methods using 3D printing to create patient specific models based on CT or MRI imaging to plan complex interventions and surgeries across such specialties as cardiology, orthopedics, urology and neurosurgery. Their work has been featured on two covers of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) for a "first in man procedure" and patented pre-surgical planning methods for pre-sizing patient heart valves.

“3D printing and CAD analysis is changing the way physicians plan their cases,” said Forbes. “This technology has also led to improved safety for patients, shorter operating times for surgeons and less wasted devices with the potential to reduce overall costs.

“Health care is the only industry I can think of today where you see stone age and space age technology in the same room. There is an enormous amount of opportunity in healthcare for designers to improve the way healthcare has been delivered traditionally. It will take time, but it will change. Trusting the design process I learned at CCS, I’m able to understand the barriers for change and brainstorm innovative solutions for the complex problems faced by medical professionals. It’s exciting to use what I’ve learned in design to influence the future of our health care industry.”

In addition to his work at HFII, Forbes continues to grow his business, Anymile Clothing ( He would eventually like to own his own design consultancy.

Said Forbes, “My long-term goal is to always follow my heart and passion for creating elegant solutions—whatever the problem.”

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