In the TV show “Shark Tank,” potential investors—the sharks—listen to pitches by budding businesses. Once the sharks “bite” to show interest in an idea, the business gets to decide, on the spot, which investor to take on. On Monday, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Innovation Hub (BWH iHub) held its own pilot shark tank, drawing 10 finalists out of over forty applicants to the stage to pitch their ideas to the “sharks” (BWH clinical faculty). The prize, in this case, was not money but the chance to be paired with clinicians to test their innovative solutions in an actual clinical environment.
This is Brigham’s first open invitation to the private sector into the traditionally impenetrable walls of this academic powerhouse. From the very start of the program at 4pm, the auditorium was packed with standing room only–with entrepreneurial intellects eagerly awaiting the insights of the nimble private sector. Physician lead of Hacking Pediatrics and the Director of Clinical Mobile Solutions of Boston Children’s Hospital Michael Doctktor, MD said, “It’s exciting to see medical entrepreneurs with great ideas find the support they need to take their solutions to the next step. The iHub did a great job in getting creative and getting the word out about the potential of these innovative and disruptive technologies to change patient care.”
By the end of the evening, Twine Health, a company that has created a collaborative care platform with synchronized apps for chronic disease management, had four of the six sharks interested. The CEO and co-founder, John Moore, presented statistics from past pilots including a 90 percent success rate of patients achieving their blood pressure goal within three months of using the platform. Amongst the four vying sharks, Moore chose to team up with Stuart Pollack, who is medical director of BWH Advanced Primary Care Associates.
Three other companies out of the ten presenters won the opportunity to pilot their idea. Tenacity Health, a peer-coaching platform using incentives to motivate patients to change their health, garnered the interest of many of the “sharks.” It ended up pairing with a clinician from the audience who was introduced as a seventh shark: Katherine Rose, a primary care provider at BWH’s South Huntington practice.
Healo, a mobile post-operative wound healing monitoring system, will be mentored by Pooja Devendran, BWH executive director of surgical services. MySafeCare, a mobile application that lets patients and families electronically report safety concerns while in the hospital, will be piloted with the help of Karen Conley, Associate Chief Nurse at the Connors Center for Women and Newborns.
Andrea Ippolito, a innovation specialist with the BWH iHub and PhD student at MIT, said that the idea for the shark tank came from the fact that it is “really hard for early-stage ventures to get pilots for clinical practice.”
“We wanted to play matchmaker and allow these key stakeholders to match with patient-centered ventures,” she said. Ippolito added that the six finalists who did not get matched with a pilot at BWH can still be supported in other ways in the future.
The other six finalists were:
With a partner lined up, Twine Health CEO John Moore says they will be ready to pilot the product in a clinic within months. “This event was an opportunity to get exposed to an audience of clinicians,” he said. “I think they did this event because they’re ready to run.”
At the end of the day, the event was a huge success. Lesley Solomon, Executive Director of the BWH iHub, said, “We are thrilled with the outcome of the first Brigham and Women’s Hospital Pilot Shark Tank. The Brigham has been a place of pioneering breakthroughs, and this event is an example of how the hospital continues to innovate by employing creative approaches that bring health care technology into the clinical space to improve patient experience and patient engagement.”
Vidya is the founder of Doctors Who Create (doctorswhocreate.com), which brings together people who want to change the culture of medicine to reward and encourage creativity. She is a first-year medical student at the University of Pennsylvania and is passionate about using the power of innovation and storytelling to improve clinical care.
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