Digital Innovation Hub

Physicians Reflect on Bringing their Idea to Life and Taking it Through MassChallenge HealthTech – Q&A with Dr. Robert Crum and Dr. Kyle Wu

Last year, the iHub team had the pleasure of working with the co-founders of Knot, Dr. Robert Crum and Dr. Kyle Wu, who were selected to participate in the 2020 MassChallenge HealthTech (MCHT) Accelerator program from a pool of over 350 applications.

During the 6-month program, we met weekly to support their efforts by focusing on refining the business model, preparing for a pilot, assembling a strong team, and exploring funding options. Knot was an ideal match for the iHub not only because we’re always seeking ways to support internal innovators such as Dr. Crum and Dr. Wu but also because their solution fit perfectly with our challenge to get rid of administrative inefficiencies (aka stupid stuff).

After having personally experienced the labor-intensive logging and reviewing process as a resident, Dr. Crum, Dr. Wu, and their team created Knot, a mobile platform for residents to easily review, log, and report surgical cases. Dr. Robert Crum is a graduate of the Surgical Innovation Fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital and a General Surgery Resident at Columbia University and Dr. Kyle Wu is a Surgical Innovation Fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital and a Senior Neurosurgery Resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Over the past year, they have made great progress, and much like seasoned kayakers, have navigated rapid changes to establish a company. From deciding how to allocate stocks fairly and navigating complex contracting processes and acronyms, to dealing with unexpected challenges—which in their case, was a literal pandemic—Knot continued to persevere and has successfully completed the program with new opportunities.

At the conclusion of 2020 MCHT program, we followed up to reflect on our time together and ask a few questions about their experience as physician founders and MCHT alumni.

Q: Why did you decide to start Knot?

A: We identified case logging as a major pain point for surgical trainees with a significant impact. Each surgical trainee’s case log is vital for his or her education and essential for future independent practice. Unfortunately, with recent increase in administrative burden, the case log has become just another task to complete with no value to the trainee. We sought to fix that and decrease administrative burden and improve surgical education.

Q: How did you find time as a physician? Do you have advice for future physician founders?

A: Knot is a result of work we did during our research time. We see this type of work as being another avenue for academic physicians. The time that a physician would spend writing papers or doing research can be spent on projects like this.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge with Knot?

A: Storing and transmitting patient data securely. Patient data is essential to a case log and patient data privacy is obviously paramount.

Q: How did MCHT help you?

A: MCHT provided dedicated resources from the hospital to facilitate a pilot at BWH. It also provided a network outside the hospitals for the product to grow and hopefully be commercialized to help surgical trainees across the country.

Q: What was the outcome of your experience through MassChallenge?

A: We are nearing the launch of our pilot at BWH!

Q: What are your plans with your career? With Knot? What do you hope to accomplish next?

A: First and foremost, we both want to be surgeons. We hope to be able to continue to work with Knot and other innovative projects.

From the iHub team, we would like to once again congratulate Dr. Crum, Dr. Wu, and the Knot team with the incredible progress made during the MCHT Program. At the iHub, we strive to propel solutions that create digital breakthroughs and partners like Knot and MCHT are key to our innovation process. We plan to continue supporting Knot and we look forward to the company’s growth.

About Knot: Knot is a mobile platform that utilizes optical character recognition and EMR extraction to improve recording accuracy and reduce the time required to log a case. The platform enables quick and easy reporting and allows residents to review their cases to help supplement their hands-on training. Residents can quickly review relevant cases when prepping for upcoming surgeries by leveraging the platform’s searchable log and analytics. Residency programs and hospitals also benefit from a high-fidelity case log. Programs can use the surgical track records to run analytics on resident performance and use the number of surgeries completed as justification for additional surgical residents. Learn more here:

About MassChallenge HealthTech: MassChallenge HealthTech (MCHT) accelerates healthcare innovation by matching top digital health startups with industry-leading strategic partners (“Champions”) to work on demonstration projects that achieve actionable results and by convening the top digital health community in the world to improve health.

About Brigham Digital Innovation Hub: Founded in 2013, the Brigham Digital Innovation Hub, or iHub, functions as the center for digital health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Our team is focused on promoting, sourcing, and creating digital solutions to benefit Brigham Health, its staff, patients, and visitors.