Stories about: Innovators’ Forum

Can you see what I see? Maybe not, but the computer can

What if you could just look at someone’s face and tell how fast his or her heart is beating?

The question isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. The movement of our beating heart inside our chest can in fact reveal itself on the surface of the skin, albeit too faintly for our eyes to see. But as you can see in this video, it’s not too faint for a computer (fast forward to 1:25 and 3:18):

Donna Brezinski, MD, of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Division of Newborn Medicine and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), recently described the system used to make that video at one of the hospital’s Innovators’ Forums (a series of monthly talks hosted by Boston Children’s Innovation Acceleration Program). It uses computer-based video processing to make a pulse look like it’s bulging on a person’s wrist, or to amplify changes in skin color as freshly oxygenated blood gets pumped through the body.

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Harnessing the power of emotional engagement

IDEO's Rodrigo Martinez believes we all have the power to improve people's lives by gleaning small insights from everyday interactions

“What is the purpose of healthcare?” To a room full of doctors, nurses and other healthcare experts at Boston Children’s Hospital, it was a startling question—justifying why they save lives was not part of their everyday experience.

“It may seem like a crazy question but it’s important to ask why we do what we do,” said Rodrigo Martinez, life sciences chief strategist from the international design firm IDEO, during a monthly Innovator’s Forum at the hospital. “Is it to care? Is it for us to feel better? Is it for us to have less emotional trauma in our lives?”

One audience member admitted that a lot of his time in the Emergency Department is spent reporting what he does. “During an eight hour shift, I may spend a significant amount of time recording all the things I’ve done to help a patient, but that’s time I’m not with the patient.” Martinez nodded.

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It’s just a hat: Simplicity in innovation

Clinical innovations don't have to be complex. Sometimes, as nurse Karen Sakakeeny has found, an innovation can be as simple as a hat (shown here on a doll). (Courtesy Karen Sakakeeny)

When we think about innovation, especially in health care, our thoughts often turn to the highly complex: new surgical procedures, new drugs, new devices or machines, etc.

But innovation in medicine and patient care doesn’t have to be complex. Sometimes it can be very simple. Like a hat.

Karen Sakakeeny has been a clinical nurse for more than 30 years, spending much of that time in the operating room. While doing a stint in cardiac surgery, she found herself thinking about ways to improve the rewarming process for infants undergoing open heart surgery.

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