Author: Greg Weintraub

Under the hood of healthcare innovation: Jared Hawkins and the digital phenotype

Jared Hawkins Boston Children's Hospital

What does it take to change healthcare for the better? In the second of a two-part series on digital health innovators at Boston Children’s Hospital, we profile Jared Hawkins, MMSc, PhD. Like Gajen Sunthara, MSc, featured in part one, Hawkins was named among MedTech Boston’s 40 Under 40 Healthcare Innovators for 2017.

Jared Hawkins, director of informatics at Boston Children’s Innovation and Digital Health Accelerator (IDHA), brings a formidable skill set to his work. With a PhD in Immunology from Tufts University School of Medicine and an MMSc in Biomedical Informatics from Harvard Medical School, his background combines biomedical research (immunology, virology, oncology, genomics) with data science, visualization, computational modeling and software development.

His current work spans an equally diverse range of topics, touching on population and public health, patient experience, decision support and pharmacogenomics. A faculty member in the Computational Health Informatics Program, Hawkins is wired into the digital health ecosystem. He serves as a scientific advisor and co-founder of Raiing Medical (home temperature and fertility tracking) and is the head of engineering and co-founder of Circulation (non-emergency medical transportation via Uber).

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Under the hood of healthcare innovation: Gajen Sunthara and leveraging EHRs

Gajen Sunthara
(Photo: Greg Weintraub)

What does it take to be an innovator changing our healthcare system for the better? This two-part series profiles two digital health innovators at Boston Children’s Hospital who were named among MedTech Boston’s 40 Under 40 Healthcare Innovators for 2017.

Gajen Sunthara, MSc, has two innovation passions: healthcare policy and electronic health records (EHRs). With professional experiences spanning technology, business and government, he finds himself in a position to effect change in a way that few others can.

“Gajen’s passion for healthcare is evident from the moment that you meet him,” says Farhanah Sheets, a software engineer at Boston Children’s Innovation and Digital Health Accelerator (IDHA) who reports to Sunthara. “No matter how big or small the idea, he brings a level of excitement to each project that is contagious.”

As director of Innovation R&D for IDHA, Sunthara is leading significant efforts around EHR interoperability — the ability of healthcare information systems to exchange and use each other’s data. He’s also focused on creating applications that can easily be integrated into any EHR system.

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Lessons from the data: Applying machine learning for clinical decision support

machine learning clinical decision support

Mauricio Santillana, PhD, faculty member in the Computational Health Informatics Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, had an idea as he witnessed the volume of continuous real-time data generated in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). He realized that tapping the data on patients’ ever-changing vital signs, with the help of machine-learning algorithms, could support clinical decision-making and predict (and help head off) up-coming health issues.

He started a dialogue with the hospital’s Innovation & Digital Health Accelerator, and now collaborates closely with clinicians in the PICU to create machine-learning algorithms that can help them provide the highest level of care.

“It’s fairly recent that clinicians realized people with backgrounds in math and statistics can be very helpful in a clinical context,” says Santillana

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Designing from the bottom up: Guiding healthcare stakeholders through ideation

healthcare co-design

At a recent event, Michelle Domey, mother of a child with special health care needs, found herself sharing her experience with a design expert, describing recent telehealth appointments at Boston Children’s Hospital. “My son feels like he’s having a private appointment, even though I’m sitting next to him, and his doctor is miles away,” she reflected. “Who thought that was possible through a tablet or a computer?”

As adult patients nodded in agreement, the group began to think about how to leverage Michelle’s experience to design support systems for kids with special health care needs. A software engineer expanded Michelle’s comment into a vision of the classroom of the future — a learning environment fully equipped with remote learning solutions for children with special health care needs, and environmental sensors for children with severe food allergies and health risks. The Olin College Co-Design for Better Health Innovation Lab was well underway.

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Post-millennial hackers build hospitals of the future in Minecraft

From the long line stretching down the hall at the Kids-Only Minecraft Hackathon, a 7-year-old could be heard shouting, “Would it be helpful if I gave access to others on my server?”

Parents perked up with curiosity. Many of the kids, waiting to sign in to create the hospital of the future, looked even more excited. With a ton of enthusiasm and some impressive design skills, the kids got to work on their laptops and tablets re-designing the hospitals of our future, one digital brick at a time. The first-ever Kids-Only Minecraft Hackathon was well underway.

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