Last month, students from all over North America competed virtually in the inaugural Mayo Clinic Innovation Sprint — a competition meant to foster collaboration among business, IT and clinical professionals in a 24-hour effort to solve problems and develop solutions.
The theme was Advanced Care at Home, and participants from the Mayo Clinic, business, and students from across Canada and the United States were placed in teams of two to five people to develop a product prototype and a business plan.
First place went to Mahsa Bataghva Shahbaz, Western biomedical engineering PhD candidate, and her team for a project to build a safe experience for the care-delivery team in a remote care-delivery environment.
“Considering there are more than 1.5 million employees working in at-home health-care services in the U.S., with a $103-billion market size in 2018 alone, we believe there is a huge market opportunity for this solution,” said Bataghva Shahbaz, who worked closely with four individuals with diverse backgrounds in IT and engineering, ranging from a product manager to a paramedic, to brainstorm, prepare a business model, write a business plan and provide a brief market analysis.
The team received invaluable feedback and encouragement from professionals in both industry and academia, Bataghva Shahbaz said. They plan to seed their first-prize award of $2,500 (U.S.) towards IP protection.
“We felt that our problem statement resonated with the needs of current paramedics, and our solution was something that the Mayo Clinic wishes to adopt in its remote-care settings.”
Claiming second place and a prize of $1,500 was Western medical innovation fellow and biomedical engineering alumnus Michael Lavdas, BESc’18 and MESc’20.
Lavdas was paired with Mayo Clinic medical student David Soriano, and they tackled a project based on the fitting of lower-limb prostheses.
“Each year, about 120,000 people in the U.S. will have a lower limb amputation, and 80 per cent of these are a result of bloodborne illnesses,” said Lavdas. “Fifty-five per cent of people with prosthetic lower limbs will develop pressure sores due to poor fit, and it costs anywhere from $500 to $75,000 to treat these sores because these patients are so prone to infection. This is roughly a $600-million annual problem in the U.S.”
Lavdas and Soriano built a business case for a device that provides more quantitative data about fit quality to patients and their physicians to optimize fitting.
“David and I were honoured to be acknowledged in front of some incredible peers and role models in the med-tech space,” said Lavdas. “We are extremely proud of the accomplishments made over just a 24-hour sprint, and we felt that we really left it all on the floor when it came time to pitch.”
Lavdas and Soriano plan to use some of their prize money to create a more elaborate prototype, which they hope to share with clinical contacts in Minnesota and see it eventually tested on patients.