Children’s Innovation Day

At the heart of innovation are ideas. Ideas for something new and different. While there’s no shortage of ideas in the medical world, innovation doesn’t come so easily.

Children’s Hospital Boston’s first ever Innovation Day showcased the hospitals’ work to accelerate innovation by supporting innovators’ novel ideas. The featured innovators, which included chief officers, physicians and nurses at Children’s, shared their personal and professional motivation behind their ideas, the challenges they’ve faced along the way and hoped for outcomes. While the speakers’ ideas varied in complexity and development, they embodied Children’s commitment to advancing healthcare innovation.

‘Change is essential, and we need to invest,’ Dr. Pedro Del Nido, Chief of Cardiac Surgery and a longtime leader in innovation at CHB, said in his opening remarks. A featured speaker and moderator of the ‘Healthcare Device Innovation’ session, Del Nido attributed Children’s interest in supporting innovation to the inventors of new and novel ideas.

‘There are many challenges along the way but it’s rewarding to know that you’re doing something that no one else knows how or can do,’ Del Nido said.

To aid ‘inventors’ in the development of their ideas, Children’s assists with funding, testing and getting approval from regulators.  Two of the speakers—Dr. Hiep Nguyen, a man of many titles including pediatric urologist, surgeon and director of the Robotic Surgery Research and Training Center, and Dr. John Kheir, chief fellow in Critical Care Medicine, shared the inspiration behind their projects, and Children’s help in the overall development.

Nguyen, who is recognized as a serial innovator at Children’s, gave a talk on ‘Human Inspired Technology: an Implantable Kidney Dialysis Unit.’ From the spark of an idea and initial sketch on a tablecloth, Nguyen worked with Children’s to develop an implantable dialysis unit that offered the benefits of hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, while also avoiding the disadvantages of scarring and infection. Inspired by a friend and colleague undergoing dialysis, Nguyen is passionate in developing a technology that will improve the effectiveness of dialysis, and in turn, quality of life for patients.

‘You may have a lot of ideas but few things that you’re passionate about,’ Nguyen said. ‘Passion is the driving force. You have to go after the ones that mean the most to you.’

Like Nguyen, Kheir also shared the motivation behind his development in his talk, ‘When a Patient Needs Air: Injectable Microbubbles that Release Oxygen into the Blood.’ Focused on improving outcomes of patients who undergo cardiac arrest, Kheir developed a technology that packages oxygen in microbubbles for direct delivery via injection to blood and tissue. The technology can be used to treat patients who have undergone cardiac arrest by delivering oxygen to the heart issue quickly and directly. Developed to improve outcomes and ultimately save lives, Kheir is hopeful this technology will be deployed in every ambulance, operating room and emergency room. Children’s, he said, is helping make this a reality.

‘The most important thing is to believe in your idea,’ Kheir said. ‘The degree to which you believe is transmitted to others.’

With the help of Children’s, Kheir feels confident that his technology and other ideas can make a real impact on healthcare. Thanks to Children’s, the featured speakers at Children’s Innovation Day, all have ideas in development. Change has only just begun.