Each time Michele Davey, RN, a CHOP nurse for more than 20 years, needs to check a child’s IV line for safety reasons, she winces as she removes the protective, rigid arm board. If the child is sleeping, the ripping sound of the Velcro fastener inevitably wakes him.
Many times she has thought, “There has to be a better way.”
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia created the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (OEI) to empower Davey, and other employees, to find “a better way” and foster an entrepreneurial spirit. In the case of Davey, the better way was to design the “See-IV,” a protective device with a clear window that gives care providers a quick, unobtrusive view of IV sites.
“We’ve been able to accelerate the Hospital’s reputation as a leader for entrepreneurship in pediatric medicine.”
— Patrick FitzGerald, Vice President for Entrepreneurship & Innovation
With the help of OEI, other entrepreneurs-in-the-making are tackling issues related to medication pump safety, patient confidentiality, long waits for Dermatology appointments, vehicle accidents, fluid infusions in the Emergency Department and tracking emerging illnesses.
A robust pipeline of ideas
These advances, and the nearly 50 others currently in the pipeline, will help children at CHOP and beyond. “In our first year, we’ve been able to accelerate the Hospital’s reputation as a leader for entrepreneurship in pediatric medicine,” says OEI’s leader, Patrick FitzGerald, Vice President for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.
Nurses like Davey must frequently check the spot where the IV goes into a child’s arm to ensure it is still in place and no fluid has leaked out of the vein. The current protector was actually created to keep an elbow straight, but is pressed into service more than 11,000 times a year at Children’s Hospital because no other product is available to keep curious little fingers away from the IV area. Because it is fabric, it has to be removed for each IV check, and then replaced.
When the OEI issued a call for ideas, Davey and her See-IV collaborators — Cheryl Gebeline-Myers, MS, of CHOP’s Enterprise Improvement Office, and Jacqueline Anzalone, BSN, BSE, a Neonatology nurse — submitted their proposal.
Coming to a hospital near you
The See-IV team surveyed nurses for their suggestions and, working with design and engineering firm Likuma Labs, created a prototype that has a large, clear window and “quiet release” technology. Now, after reviewing the prototype in focus groups with nurses and making a few design tweaks, CHOP has licensed the design and patents to a manufacturer for commercialization. The See-IV will then go through a formal medical trial before being rolled out to hospitals everywhere.
Sarah, 10, can’t wait. After trying a prototype during an inpatient stay, she wanted to keep it on. “It’s much lighter,” she says. “It’s softer to touch, too.”
That’s good feedback for Davey, who has worked as a surgical and bedside nurse during her two decades at the Hospital. “This has brought a whole new spark to my career. It’s exciting to identify a problem and see the institution make a commitment to support you to fix it. It makes me proud to be at CHOP.”
As it did with the See-IV team, OEI works with all project teams to explore the commercial viability of their ideas and connect them with outside partners, such as designers, software developers or prototype fabricators, to advance their products.
Two standalone companies
Two OEI projects were spun out into standalone companies during the program’s first year, and others are well on their way.
Bainbridge Health, software that makes using medication pumps safer, sprung from the minds of a trio of CHOP pharmacists and medication safety specialists. It has already signed up two customers and is in advanced discussions with 10 others.
Diagnostic Driving grew out of 20 years of research on motor vehicle accidents by Flaura Winston, MD, PhD, scientific director of CHOP’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention. The company helps businesses with vehicle fleets diagnose their drivers’ potential problems and coach them to improve — making everyone safer.
“For more than 160 years, CHOP has been on the forefront of discovering innovative ways to improve the lives of children and their families,” says President and CEO Madeline Bell. “The Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation is capturing ideas from all over the institution and providing the encouragement and direction staff need to bring them to fruition. It’s a great way for employees to combine their creativity and expertise to advance children’s health.”
Another path for entrepreneurial researchers
Early-career physician-scientists with entrepreneurial aspirations have a new path to further their research and enhance the viability of their ideas.
CHOP’s Entrepreneurial Science Scholars Program gives doctors working on research with commercial potential the time and training to bring those ideas to fruition.
Selected participants — seven so far — spend 80 percent of their time doing research and earning a master’s in Translational Research (Entrepreneurial Science Track) (MTR-EntSci) at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The “TR” side aims to produce investigators adept in translational research; the “EntSci” component prepares them to market their research.
“This is an exciting new channel to cultivate the next generation of innovators in pediatric research,” says CHOP’s Physician-in-Chief Joseph W. St. Geme III, MD, who heads up the program.
Researchers are tackling an array of topics, including designing a device to extract bone marrow with less pain, developing a genetic approach to flu vaccines, creating a beta cell line to treat diabetes and using children’s electronic medical records to help parents stop smoking.
When their research is ripe for commercialization, they will connect with CHOP’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Philadelphia Pediatric Medical Device Consortium for assistance.