Digital Innovation Hub

iHub Innovates Trauma Care with Stepping Strong

Last month, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide tuned in to see more than 30,000 runners compete in the 120th Boston Marathon. I walked down to Beacon Street in Brookline with my two boys, where hundreds more were there to cheer on the runners – it was a beautiful day.

Watching the runners is always an incredibly uplifting experience, yet it’s impossible not to be reminded of the tragic Boston Marathon bombings three years ago. April 15, 2013, is a day I will never forget. On that day, Gillian Reny, a then-18-year-old high school student, was watching from the finish line alongside her mother, Audrey Epstein Reny. I can’t imagine the pain, fear and uncertainty her parents felt when Gillian was critically injured by one of the explosions and transported to BWH.

Ten months later, the Reny family established the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund to support and raise awareness for trauma medicine. Since launching, the fund has raised more than $6 million to support trauma research at BWH.

I’m thrilled to announce a new partnership between the Stepping Strong Fund and iHub, called the Stepping Strong Clinical Innovation Series in Trauma. This effort is a way for the fund to support entrepreneurial and technology-based innovation in trauma care. Through this series, teams consisting of BWH clinicians and scientists, and external designers, engineers and entrepreneurs, will explore challenges in trauma care and develop solutions to those challenges over the course of six months.

 Mad*Pow facilitates as clinicians and scientists hone their ideas.
Mad*Pow facilitates as clinicians and scientists hone their ideas.

The series kicked off in March, and we’ve chosen five projects to compete for a $100,000 award. Last month, we hosted a problem definition session, during which the five teams identified and refined key issues and challenges to create an actionable problem statement. As we frequently emphasize here at iHub, this is one of the most critical steps in innovation.

For the session, we teamed up with Mad*Pow, a design agency focused on health and technology. Each team worked with a Mad*Pow designer, who facilitated the discussion. We find it extremely productive to collaborate with human-centered designers, who take a creative approach that starts with focusing on and understanding the people you are designing for and ending with new solutions that are tailor-made to suit their needs. This is key to identifying the right approach to a problem that will fit well in existing workflows and have a better chance for adoption. (As an aside, Mad*Pow just announced a new Center for Health Experience Design, of which iHub is proud to be an inaugural partner.)

 As Albert Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”
As Albert Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”

One of our participants, Giorgio Giatsidis, MD (a researcher in the Department of Surgery), said it best: “The problem definition session opened my mind. I was amazed how team members with different backgrounds can help each other identify essential components of a problem by offering a different but synergistic perspective.”

Although I can’t share more details at this time, I can tell you that our teams are working toward innovations in diagnostics, orthopedics, neurology, rehabilitation and clinical testing. I am extraordinarily excited for what is to come, and I look forward to sharing more as the series evolves. Teams will advance through two rounds of judging: three of the original five will be selected by a team of clinical and iHub judges, and the grand prize winner will be determined this fall by public vote.

One final thought. Last week, I shared a pretty exhaustive list of what makes Boston the ultimate digital health hub. To me, what is so special about Boston is that it brings people together. Its small size enables idea-sharing and collaboration.

In July, we will launch a new Innovation Series in Patient Safety. Stay tuned…

What are you innovating today?

Lesley Solomon
iHub Executive Director