You Can Do A Lot With A Small Team: 2018 iHub Year In Review

With the coming of the new year, we here at the Brigham Digital Innovation Hub wanted to take the time to look back at the past year. Between our various community engagement initiatives, collaboration announcements, bringing Brigham innovative ideas to fruition and celebrating five years of innovation, we have been on our feet and laptops non-stop.

“It’s been an extraordinarily busy year for the Brigham Digital Innovation Hub,” said Mark Zhang, DO, MMSC, medical director for iHub. “As Brigham clinicians, researchers, and staff increasingly look towards digital solutions, the iHub team will continue to champion and support digital health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  I’m excited to see what 2019 will bring for the iHub.”

Join iHub as we take a look back at 2018, and look forward to the years to come.


Digital Health Champion and Collaborator of Choice

For the past two years, the Brigham has been a champion to MassChallenge HealthTech (formerly known as PULSE@MassChallenge), a Boston-based accelerator supporting early-stage digital health companies.

In early January 2018, after hearing pitches from various startup finalists, the Brigham officially announced their matches with five companies for the 2018 cohort. Led by iHub, the Brigham championed five early-stage digital health companies:

  • Astarte Medical Partners, one of the first microbial health informatics companies focused on improving health outcomes during the first 1000 days of life

  • Medumo, an automated patient reminder platform

  • Moving Analytics, a digital cardiac rehab and secondary prevention program for heart disease

  • Orbita, Inc., which offers an enterprise-grade conversational platform powering HIPAA-compliant voice and chatbot applications in healthcare

  • TORq, a digital platform helping to coordinate surgical scheduling between the clinic and device representatives

To kick off this year’s cohort, the Brigham Digital Innovation Hub (iHub) hosted its first ever “Startup Bootcamp” which convened stakeholders from across Partners HealthCare, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and startup matches from the 2018 MassChallenge HealthTech. This bootcamp event aimed to help startups and clinical champion counterparts better prepare for the rigors of working with a large academic medical center such as the Brigham.

Featured speakers and session facilitators included Adam Landman, MD, chief information officer and vice president of Information Systems at Brigham Health; Laurance Stuntz, director of the Massachusetts eHealth Institute; Christina Mazzone, information security officer for Brigham Health; and Josie Elias, program manager of digital health innovation at iHub.

In early June, members of the Brigham gathered with other program champions, such as Mass General Hospital, to celebrate the completion of the six-month cohort. All Brigham championed teams hit their cohort milestones, with some additional notable accomplishments, such as:

  • Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital (BWFH), TORq received live OR scheduling data at BWFH via Redox.

  • Partners HealthCare signed a strategic collaboration agreement with Medumo.

  • Orbita Inc. announced a strategic collaboration with iHub to explore and advance the use of voice-enabled and conversational AI solutions in health care.

With the past years of success as a MassChallenge champion, the Brigham is excited to champion three additional digital-health startups for the 2019 cohort:

  • Signum, an application that provides education before and during a patient’s appointment and obtains patient consent on site

  • pumpspotting, a social network platform and global community for breastfeeding moms

  • Pixm, an anti-phishing protection application that uses deep learning computer vision to detect phishing attacks in real-time at the point of click

“It is truly exciting to continue to explore emerging health ventures as we lead as a champion through MassChallenge HealthTech,” says Chen Cao, MPH, innovation analyst at iHub. “We strive to be an engaged and active participant in this exciting and evolving digital health ecosystem.”

The Digital Transformation of Surgical Scheduling

Working with the BWFH Operating Rooms, iHub launched TORq Interface, a digital platform helping to coordinate surgical scheduling between the facility and device representatives.

In just the first two months, the average daily administrative time spent by the BWFH perioperative services team to communicate with device representatives reduced from 2 hours down to 15 minutes. The company is now working with BWH OR to translate its success and impact to Brigham’s main campus.

Collaboration Agreement to Improve Patient Experience

With support of iHub, Medumo, one of Brigham’s 2018 MassChallenge cohort companies, expanded beyond the initial colonoscopy prep pilot to the Weiner Center and now is piloting across four divisions. These new pilots are focused on decreasing administrative burden through pre-op visit type triaging and referral management. In addition, the program is integrated with Brigham’s new wayfinding tool by displaying custom destination messages for all patients enrolled in the pilot. 

During the MassChallenge HealthTech Finale event in June 2018, Adam Landman, MD, CIO of Brigham Health was proud to announce that Partners Healthcare, with the support of iHub, signed a collaboration agreement with Medumo as their largest customer to date.

More recently, Medumo started receiving real-time information from Partners eCare for the GI referrals program via the Redox platform, a 2017 MassChallenge company. This new connectivity reduces project timeline and resources from Brigham Health IS, as well as continue to foster a new model for integration between the Brigham and Redox.  

Accelerating the Promise of Emerging Technologies

In January 2018, iHub hosted a “Voice-Activated Technology Brainstorm and Educational Lunch” event with Brigham clinicians and researchers to learn about the risks and possibilities of voice technology, and pitch ideas for applications in healthcare. A dozen internal innovators shared their potential use cases with iHub and Orbita, Inc., one of the five MassChallenge HealthTech companies championed by the Brigham in 2018.

In late October, Orbita Inc. announced a strategic collaboration with iHub to explore and advance the use of voice-enabled and conversational AI solutions in health care. In progress at the Brigham, both organizations will collaborate on opportunities for impact, leverage voice assistants, chatbots, and other conversational user interfaces to improve patient engagement, remote care, clinical efficiency, and business processes.

Patient Education and Electronic Consent

In February 2018, Signum officially launched with the Thoracic Surgery department. This project, a co-development with the department, iHub, and the digital health startup, created a patient-friendly, digital consent app to improve patient education and consent processes for thoracentesis. Previously reviewed by the Digital Health Innovation Guide, and now collaborating in this year’s 2019 MassChallenge cohort, iHub hopes to continue to expand this pilot to other interested services.

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Helping Patients and Employees Navigate the Brigham

In March 2018, in collaboration with our colleagues in real estate, patient access, information services, and marketing, iHub launched a maps portal for in-hospital turn-by-turn directions. The site, maps.brighamandwomens.org and its sister site, maps.brighamandwomensfaulkner.org provide directions for all patient areas within the hospital as well as conference rooms, local points of interest, and all satellite facilities.

In late October, iHub released the third in a series of expanded features for Brigham maps at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner. This new and improved application provides patients visiting Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital a Google Maps-like experience with real-time directions at the hospital. The Brigham Digital Health Innovation Hub (iHub) is excited to bring this technology to the Brigham’s main campus in the coming year.

Supporting Internal Innovators on Bringing Their Ideas Forward

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To the core of iHub, we are always aiming to advance internal innovators and support their movement of innovative ideas forward. Over the past year, we have facilitated hundreds of meetings and working sessions with innovators to support dozens of projects. Along with our usual innovation support, and with the support of the Brigham Research Institute and the generous donation of the Schlager Family, this year iHub was able to offer the “Schlager Family Award for Early Stage Digital Health Innovation”. Announced in early 2018, this award, part of the BWH Health and Technology Innovation Fund, was focused on advancing digital innovation toward commercialization.

With a chance to be awarded $25,000 and assigned a member of the iHub’s strategy team to help advise and ultimately accelerate their project toward commercialization, iHub received close to 50 applicants, representing all staff levels and over 20 different Brigham divisions and departments. Finalists pitching to scientific experts, donors and trustees, had the opportunity to win one of the $25,000 awards, a targeted use of funds to be used by  the innovator to advance or test the value of an early-stage idea, or hit a key milestone to verify if their idea might have the commercial potential would warrant further investment, resources and support.

Originally only having funding for three of the seven finalists, a late-breaking donation from an on-site donor gave the iHub the ability to award five winners, and overall show the promise of investing in early-stage digital health ideas and internal innovation.

Stay tuned in 2019 as we report out some of the winners’ and finalists’ milestones and accomplishments.

A Forum for Digital Health Research and Discussion

Open to Partners HealthCare researchers and clinicians, the Digital Research Forum provides a space for innovators to start conversations and share-cutting edge work in digital health. This past year we had the honor of having various internal innovators and experts join us and share their work with other internal innovators in the Brigham family:

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Engaging External Expertise to Foster Discussion

On Monday, April 23rd the Brigham Digital Innovation Hub and the Department of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care welcomed Chief Innovation Officer from Geisinger Health. Joined by over 100 members of Boston’s digital health community, Karen Murphy, RN, PhD, also Founding Director of the Steele Institute for Healthcare Innovation, presented on Geisinger’s new approach to innovation in the ever-changing and challenging health care space.

In mid-November, iHub co-hosted the November HealthCheck on innovation in accountable care organizations (ACOs), which included Partners Healthcare’s Chief Population Officer Sreekanth K. Chaguturu, MD. Along with MassChallenge HealthTech, Massachusetts e-Health Institute, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Health Policy Commission, iHub welcomed 100 members of the general public to the Brigham.

Working with the Community to Foster Internal Innovation

On March 27th, iHub, in collaboration with the Center for Clinical Investigation, held an Idea Lab focused around the technology used in everyday clinical trials. Joined by John Montana, Director, Clinical Trial Management System, Clinical Trial Office, this idea lab aimed to foster innovative ideas and possible solutions for some of the current pain points and everyday frustrations of those who work with the current technology.

This Fall, iHub facilitated an idea lab with the BWH/BWFH total joint group to help draft a list of criteria that can find an appropriate technology solution for the department’s needs. After extensive research and prior experience, the group decided to focus on finding a streamlined, customizable, timely, two-way communication platform between patients and care teams to enable better pre-operative optimization.

With the help of Patient Relations, iHub also reached exciting milestones in the development of multiple mobile experience initiatives, getting critical feedback from real patients and visitors to inform interactive design:

  • BWFH participants tested the wayfinding app’s accuracy and experience of navigating to popular destinations, leading to the new and improved application being used today.

  • BWH participants reviewed a mock-up of the digital visitor guide and a demo of a smart voice assistant to help navigate these resources.
    Both groups have continued to stay involved throughout the design and implementation process.

Both groups have continued to stay involved throughout the design and implementation process.

Connecting External Innovators with Internal Experts

On Tuesday, November 13th, the Brigham Digital Innovation Hub (iHub) welcomed the Philips HealthWorks 2019 Cohort to a half-day symposium bringing together startups as well as leaders and innovators from the Brigham community. Close to 20 startups focused on artificial intelligence (AI), radiology and neurosciences, met with dozens of experts from Brigham Health to provide feedback in their specific areas of expertise.

Offering Research Tools for the Digital Age

Highlighted in the Brigham Health magazine, in early 2018, the iHub announced the Brigham Mobile Research Platform, a suite of modules vetted for data privacy, security and ease of use for researchers to create customizable apps without starting from scratch. With the base technology already in place, the process to build individual, specialized apps can be sped up by months. “Our job is to connect with the BWH community to the right resources to implement digital health projects, whether building their own apps or working with a startup to create one,” says Josie Elias, MBA, MPH, Program Manager, Digital Health Innovation at iHub.

There are currently five active applications, with three launched this past year.

A Celebration of Digital Health Innovation in Hospitals

On September 12th, 2018, the Brigham Digital Innovation Hub (iHub) celebrated its fifth birthday, during “iHub Turns Five: Celebration of Digital Health Innovation in Hospitals”. Over 200 attendees convened at the Hale Building for Transformative Medicine to listen to a lineup of leaders in the digital health space, including founding iHub team members, clinicians and researchers from Brigham and Women’s and Dana-Farber, and stakeholders from Partners HealthCare. Richard Zane, MD, Chief Innovation Officer, University of Colorado Health also delivered the keynote presentation, “Can Innovation and the Digital Revolution Save Healthcare?”

After the sessions, a consortium of innovators, startup collaborators, and community partners congregated for the iHub Festival, an interactive networking expo and reception. This expo also included light-hearted awards such as “Most Innovative Duo”, “Most Likely to Become a Unicorn”, and “Champion of Champions”. Founding iHub Executive Director, Lesley Solomon, MBA was awarded the first annual iHub “Disrupting Medicine” award, which embodies the characteristics of the innovators that inspired the creation of iHub in 2013.

The Brigham Innovation Group

Inside the walls of the Brigham, there are a plethora of groups and departments with one common goal; to keep Brigham Health at the forefront of research and innovation for years to come. In 2018, giving it the official name of The Brigham Innovation Group, iHub began convening these various departments and groups into quarterly working sessions, aiming to drive conversation, spark collaboration and overall foster a culture of innovation at Brigham Health.

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From Hackathon to Pilot to Scale

At this year’s Discover Brigham celebration, Josie Elias, MBA, MPH, joined members of the Brigham Care Redesign Incubator and Startup Program (BCRISP) and Herald Health during the “Successful Innovation at an AMC” panel discussion. Moderated by Gideon Gil, Managing Editor, STAT News, this panel discussed first hand experiences of successfully growing and piloting ventures at the Brigham, and how they found collaboration and communication were key to navigating a large academic medical center.

In the first week of September, Persistent Systems officially announced its acquisition of Herald Health. Founded during a Brigham Digital Innovation Hub Hackathon in 2015, Herald Health aims to help providers deliver responsive care with actionable data. With mentorship from the iHub team and oversight by Brigham Health Associate Chief Medical Officers Chuck Morris, MD, MPH, and Kathryn Britton, MD, MPH, Herald Health is currently being used to help address several hospital flow and care coordination challenges.

Engaging Patients in the Innovation Process

iHub accelerator project iaya (formerly known as banyan), is a mobile application designed to address emotional needs of young adults coping with cancer and was built with patient input. Karen Fasciano, PsyD, program director of the Young Adult Program at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, has been working with iHub the past two years to design and develop this mobile application. iHub facilitated ideation sessions and focus groups with the team and patients, as well as introduction to the application developer agency that created the app.

Using Technology to Tackle Hospital Priorities

In 2018, the Brigham announced it’s “For all the lives we touch” campaign, emphasizing the importance keeping patients safe through Brigham’s internal commitment to hand hygiene. In conjunction with the Department of Quality and Safety and Information Systems, iHub helped to coordinate, review, and implement SpeedyAudit, the mobile application currently used at the Brigham to survey and capture hand hygiene compliance. This pilot moved exceptionally fast, beginning with a Digital Health Innovation Guide (DHIG) review in May, followed by rapid pilot acceptance in June, and an operational launch in August. The DHIG enables iHub innovators to move quickly throughout the approval process to not only launch their pilot, but to ensure a smooth transition to operations with IS.

Presenting Brigham Health as a Leader in the Digital Transformation of Health Care

Crucial to iHub’s work here at the Brigham, we continue to represent the expertise and experience of those innovating within our AMC. To support this, members of the Brigham Digital Innovation Hub, and other internal innovators, have spoken at both large-scale conferences and smaller working sessions within the digital health community and beyond. Follow us into the new year and see where we will be presenting next:

Want to learn more about iHub and how we aim to impact innovation and care in 2019?
Follow us on social media and visit our website
www.bwhihub.org.