Saoirse Fitzgerald taking a walk wearing her CareAline wrap. The wrap, designed by her mother, helped keep her central line secure. (Mike & Kezia Fitzgerald)
Over the last year and a half I’ve written 70-plus stories about innovations by doctors, nurses and other staff at Boston Children’s Hospital. I haven’t yet written a story about a patient innovation. But that doesn’t mean that patients and their families aren’t out there innovating.
Case in point: Kezia Fitzgerald saw pretty quickly that there was a problem she might be able to fix. Her daughter Saoirse (pronounced Seer-sha), who had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma, had just had a PICC line put into her arm at Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center to infuse drugs and fluids. Within a day, Saoirse was tugging at the line, trying to pull off the tape that was keeping it in place. “It was irritating her skin pretty badly,” Kezia says. “She was really uncomfortable.”
It may seem like just a smartphone application, but BEAPPER, a real-time alert and communication platform, has been making waves in the Emergency Department (ED) at Boston Children’s Hospital, which sees an average of 150 patients per day.
The app sends Twitter-like alerts when beds become available, when orders have been placed and when lab results are back, reducing waiting time for families. Physicians working together can view each others’ profiles, and can quickly check on their patients’ status without having to sit down at a computer and log in. Full story »
Millennials (by one definition, people born between 1981 and 2000) tend to perceive greatness as something that is inherent, not acquired. This fallacy comes in part from the coddling we were given as young people. Millennials received trophies just for participating. Thanks to grade inflation in college, we could sleep through classes and still earn a B. We were told we were special: Success came to us simply by showing up.
This type of attitude leads to inevitable discouragement post-college, when Millennials are faced with challenges they haven’t been prepared to handle. Jobs aren’t handed out just because the applicant has a degree, but instead require connections or specialized skills or experience, and once in those jobs, success doesn’t come automatically. When he doesn’t face immediate success, the Millennial assumes that he’s “different” than the successful people, and attributes the failure to an intrinsic, unchangeable quality rather than faulty methods. Full story »
Margaret Coughlin is a Senior Vice President and the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Here at the TEDMED conference, it’s all about horizontal or lateral thinking – coming at problems from new directions, without regard to conventional boundaries. I like the thoughts of Edward DeBono (not a TEDMED speaker), who coined the term “lateral thinking” in 1967:
Some people are unhappy about lateral thinking because they feel it threatens the validity of vertical thinking. This is not so at all. The two processes are complementary, not antagonistic. Lateral thinking enhances the effectiveness of vertical thinking by offering it more to select from. Vertical thinking multiplies the effectiveness of lateral thinking by making good use of the ideas generated.
Lateral thinking is, in a way, an antidote to the way we’re all taught—vertically and specifically. Our education systems seem to be getting more vertical – more concerned with meeting prescribed benchmarks, and, in so doing, discarding the creativity and imagination of learning that is critical to real innovation and real forward movement. As for medical education, radiation oncologist and TEDMED speaker Jacob Scott said it has replaced creativity in the brain with a warehouse. Full story »
Debra Weiner speaks with Emergency Department Fellow Joel Hudgins who holds one of the iPhones piloting BEAPPER
For Debra Weiner, MD, PhD, working in the Emergency Medicine Department is a numbers game. During a 12-hour shift she works with more than 50 other providers, sees up to 25 patients and analyzes multiple lab results. Every day she’s also meeting new staff members in addition to new patients.
“People don’t know each other,” Weiner said at a recent Innovators’ Forum, a monthly internal lecture series intended to showcase and encourage new developments at Children’s Hospital Boston. “We have over 100 nurses and physicians and over 200 trainees that filter in [every two to four weeks]… it’s hard to remember who everyone is and what they do.”
Coupled with the frenetic pace of Children’s Emergency Department (ED), remembering names and managing the flow of patients becomes a constant challenge. Full story »
Do the cells in this blood harbor a potentially harmful gene? If the answer is yes, but the person it belongs to donated it for unrelated research, it's not yet clear when - or how - to tell them. (JHeuser/Wikimedia Commons)
Snippets of tissue, vials of blood and tubes of DNA from hundreds of thousands of people sit in freezers and liquid nitrogen tanks right now in laboratories across the globe. They come from people like you and me, donated in the hope that our genes researchers will be able to glean insights for the next breakthroughs for diseases common and rare.
Whenever we sign a consent form and roll up our sleeve, we don’t just join the community of research. We also become part of a debate that has been raging among researchers, clinicians and ethicists for years: What if our DNA sequence turns up bad news unrelated to the research we signed up for?
This responsibility can quickly turn into a numbers problem – a massive administrative burden. Consider that there are more than 104,000 human genetic variations now cited in the medical literature with links to human disease. Full story »
Children's Hospital Boston's first Innovation Day Feb 14, 2012
On Tuesday, Children’s Hospital Boston featured its first Innovation Day. Organized by the Hospital’s Innovation Acceleration Program, which seeks to promote grass roots innovation within the hospital, the TEDMED style conference featured talks by 17 of the Hospital’s clinicians. Our Chief Innovation Officer Naomi Fried welcomed a packed house, which included attendees from across the country. Here we’re featuring some of the technologies that were revealed on Tuesday and how they’re changing the face of pediatric medicine: Full story »
"Buffalo Bill's Wild West" show poster (cliff1066-TM/Flickr)
The business of smartphone health apps is growing exponentially. Here at Children’s, I coordinate and supervise a team of software developers who are helping our clinicians build apps. While I love the innovation and excitement health apps bring, the regulation is just starting to catch up with the industry. That makes the future uncertain.
The Food and Drug Administration’s proposed mobile health app guidelines, published in July, are a step in the right direction. But many concerns remain. In taming the Wild West, will the FDA go too far into overregulation? Will the new rules stifle the growing industry of app development by small startups or internal hospital developers? Can we continue innovating in the current state?
Consumers feel the uncertainty too. When considering the use of an app, how do you know whether it’s providing correct information? Full story »
On the Berlin Heart, Alina Siman, 4, has regained her energy which will make her a better transplant candidate when a new organ becomes available
Four-year-old Alina Siman is being kept alive on a device that gained approval in the U.S. just two weeks ago. The Berlin Heart Group’s EXCOR, a ventricular assist device manufactured in Berlin, Germany, takes over the normal function of a heart by pumping blood directly to the pulmonary artery and into the lungs.
With FDA approval granted on December 16, the U.S. joins Europe and Canada in offering the device for children of all ages with end stage heart failure. Full story »
Having blood drawn can be a very anxious thing for a child with autism. Ellen Hanson and her colleagues have developed an educational kit that they hope will make blood draws easier on kids, parents, and their doctors.
Raising a child with autism is challenging, to be sure, but some situations can be more challenging than others. Take trips to the doctor, for instance – especially if the child has to get shots or have blood drawn. “Anything with a needle can be a real stumbling block for families,” says Ellen Hanson, a researcher in Children’s divisions of developmental medicine and genetics. “It’s completely out of the routine, and children may have had a bad experience in the past or general anxiety about going to the doctor that make it really difficult.
“At the same time,” she continued, “these things are part of good medical care.” Blood draws are also essential for the genetic studies that researchers like Hanson are conducting into the root causes of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). “Some of the families that we’ve reached out to for our studies have been reluctant because of concerns about how their child will react to the blood draw.”
So how can we make this easier on everyone: doctors, researchers, families, and, most importantly, the children? Full story »