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$50,000 Awarded in Northwestern Medicine Innovation Challenge Grant

Northwestern Medicine’s Innovation Department, in partnership with Northwestern Memorial Foundation and Superior Ambulance, recently hosted the second annual Northwestern Medicine Innovation Challenge Grant Final Event. The Northwestern Medicine Innovation Challenge Grant is a competitive grant process to help fund innovative approaches to deliver and improve ambulatory care within the Northwestern Medicine health system. Three teams from across the health system competed for a $50,000 award funded by Superior Ambulance to help develop and implement their ideas. The winning team, from Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital’s neurological surgery program, will use the grant to develop their project aimed at enhancing patient engagement through use of advanced video platforms.

“At Northwestern Medicine, innovation is at the heart of what we do from clinical research, first-of-its-kind treatments and unique models for delivering high quality care,” said Daniel Derman, MD, chief innovation executive for Northwestern Medicine. “We’re thankful for Superior Ambulance for funding this program which helps to spread a culture of innovation, encourage problem solving and launch unique ideas across our health system.”

The three final teams were chosen from 23 proposals submitted by teams throughout the Northwestern Medicine health system. Before the final competition, each team worked with an innovation coach who provided coaching, training and assistance to support the team in developing a human-centered design approach as they prepared for the final round of judging.

“The Challenge Grant provides a unique opportunity for teams to collaborate, ideate and develop proposals designed to improve patient care and advance integration and acceleration of best medical science into routine practice,” said Jodi Rosen, director of innovation for Northwestern Medicine.
To choose the grant winner, the three teams participated in a “Shark Tank” style event presenting to a panel of five judges including:

  • Mary Franco, vice president, Superior Ambulance;
  • Michael Bauer, MD, medical director, Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital;
  • Connie Falcone, president, Northwestern Memorial Foundation;
  • Michael Ruchim, MD, vice president of medical affairs for Northwestern Memorial Foundation and associate chief medical officer at Northwestern Memorial Hospital; and
  • Patrick Towne, MD, president, Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group.

After each presentation, the judges asked questions of the teams seeking to understand if the ideas were feasible, desirable and sustainable.

“Superior Ambulance has supported Northwestern Medicine for many years through various event sponsorships. Now being involved with the Innovation Challenge Grant, we have the opportunity to help in a more meaningful and unique way – actually aiding the implementation of projects designed to address patient needs and greatly improve care” said Mary Franco, vice president, Superior Ambulance.

After the final presentations, the judges voted to award the $50,000 grant to the winning team from Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital’s Neurological Surgery program. With the award, the team will seek to “Disney-fy” the patient experience in the neurological surgery clinic. Much like what occurs at Disney World, patients will be engaged immediately upon entering the clinic. They will be provided iPads to watch interactive videos about their condition or their upcoming surgery. Surgeons will utilize virtual reality to explain conditions and treatments to their patients and to plan their surgery before they even enter the operating room.

We are incredibly grateful to Superior Ambulance and the Innovation Department for providing us the opportunity to take patient care to the next level,” said Michael Walsh, MD, neurological surgeon at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital and member of the winning team. “We are excited to continue to explore the interface between technology and patient care as we develop video platforms and content which allow for deeper and more meaningful relationships with our patients.

In addition to Dr. Walsh, the winning team also included Osaama Khan, MD, director, surgical neuro-oncology for Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group; Laura Bailey, nurse practitioner, neurological surgery, Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital; and Amanda Froeming, physician assistant, neurological surgery, Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital.

After the winning team was announced, the two remaining teams were surprised with the announcement that their projects could also receive funding thanks to a generous donation from Harris & Harris. Each team has the opportunity to receive funding to continue to develop their ideas in the following areas: further their innovation training; support the prototyping of their innovation ideas/devices; additional research and ideation or piloting of their innovative idea.

The other two finalist teams had innovative solutions for challenges with trauma care and proton therapy. One team is focused on starting care for trauma patients before they arrive at the hospital by implementing basic first aid and tourniquet training in the community, as well as executing research to understand the most effective type of tourniquet and method for its use. The other team is developing
a device to help radiation therapists safely and ergonomically lift equipment needed to administer proton therapy reducing the risk of patient and employee injury.

To learn more about Northwestern Medicine, visit nm.org/about-us.