MaineHealth Innovation builds connections to drive diversity of thought, educates to produce creative problem-solvers, and funds to accelerate ideas. By leveraging the ideas, insights and expertise of all care team members to develop novel solutions to our unmet care needs, we are working together so our communities are the healthiest in America.

July 2023 | View Archived Issues

Created by Angelina Clancy


  • A Note from Susan
  • Innovation Program updates - Outpatient Behavioral Health, MidCoast Hospital and Congenital Cardiac Surgery, MMC  
  • June Blender Event Recap
  • Opportunities - Connect, Educate & Fund
  • Transforming Care - SMHC Escape Room
  • Innovator Update - Theresa Roelke
  • IP 101 - IP Evaluation
  • Innovation 101 - Secondary Research
  • Innovation Corner - Angelina Clancy


Vice President

of Innovation


A Note from Susan

Susan Ahern - Vice President of Innovation, MaineHealth

What does the future of healthcare look like to you?

We have been posing this question to care team members this year as we’ve traveled around MaineHealth locations meeting folks in person at our Innovation Pop-Ups. Recently, at Spring Harbor Hospital, a colleague’s immediate response was, “The future of healthcare is circles, not lines.” We are thrilled to continue supporting novel ideas to help solve unmet care needs in healthcare by engaging all care team members in a constant flow of thought and leaning on each other’s strengths and insights. It’s exciting to be working together to achieve our vision of working together so our communities are the healthiest in America.


I’d like to thank everyone at Spring Harbor Hospital for welcoming us at the Innovation Pop-Up this month, and for sharing the vision of the future with us. The community is wonderful, insightful, and fun! Visiting made our week and we are looking forward to seeing you again!

Photographed left to right: John Murphy, MD, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Spring Harbor Hospital; Nic North, Administrative Specialist III, Innovation; Angelina Clancy, Program Coordinator, Innovation

Want to schedule an Innovation Pop-Up at your location? Please reach out. We travel everywhere. We love meeting you all in person and getting inspired by everyone's insights and stories, and feel honored to be able to share those in turn with all of our care team members.


With kindness,


Program Updates

We provide dynamic educational experiences and funding opportunities through programming to propel innovative ideas forward. 

Congratulations to the Spring 2023 Innovation Ignite Fund Awardees!

We're pleased to announce the recipients of the Spring 2023 MaineHealth Innovation Ignite Fund, which provides seed capital to early innovations with an investment of up to $20,000 to help innovators understand user pain points, build a prototype or test an assumption.


Thank you to all who applied and to the 25+ interdisciplinary reviewers from across MaineHealth and the local entrepreneurial community for lending their expertise to the review process!

Applications for the fall 2023 cycle are now open. Applications are due October 1 at 12:00 PM.

Learn More + Apply

Congratulations to the following Spring 2023 Ignite Fund recipients:

Christine Wyman, Director, Outpatient Behavioral Health, Mid Coast Hospital:

Contingency Management and Behavioral Health Treatment Strategies for the Treatment of Psychostimulant Use Disorders


  • Leah Bauer, MD; Division Medical Director
  • Debra Hall-Roche, LCSW, CCS; ARC Clinical Coordinator
  • Maggie Jansson, RN, MPH; Nurse Coordinator
  • Sarah Parnell; Operations Manager

Christine's project aims to utilize a model of Contingency Management in conjunction with other evidence-based behavioral health interventions to treat Psychostimulant Use Disorder.

Sunil Malhotra, MD, Director, Congenital Cardiac Surgery, Maine Medical Partners:

Development of a Biocompatible Prototype of an Active Flow Graft for Single Ventricle Congenital Heart Disease Palliation


  • Jeremy Qualls, PhD, Vice President of Research and Innovation, University of Southern Maine | Dean of the College of Science, Technology, and Health, University of Southern Maine

Sunil's project is a continuation of the development of a biocompatible prototype of an active flow vascular graft using Magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) principles to

dramatically improve outcomes for patients born with single ventricle congenital heart disease.

Applications for the Innovation Cohort are Now Open!

Have an idea for a novel solution, but unsure how to advance it? This 8-week program helps MaineHealth care team members advance an early innovative "back of the envelope" idea that addresses an unmet care need. Collaborate with fellow care team members and discover what you need to make your idea grow. Applications are due October 1 at 12:00 PM. The Cohort will begin in late October and meet every other week, 4 times, from 7:00-8:30 am.

Learn More + Apply

Blender Event Recap

By Kim Harvey

Mother of Fact - bridging the gap for equitable access to nutrition and maternal care

Presenter: Emily Sylvester, Founder & CEO, Mother of Fact

On June 14, over 30 inquiring minds and subject matter experts engaged in a lively brainstorm session with Mother of Fact’s CEO and Founder, Emily Sylvester. This fun, idea-sharing event focused on the challenges Mother of Fact’s digital health platform aims to address, as it works to provide equitable access to lifesaving maternal and infant nutrition guidance. Great connections were made and new ideas were generated – all of which may help Emily build a valuable platform that positively impacts the delivery of care! 

To care team members who attended our Innovation Blender – thank you for sharing your insights and expertise! Your feedback is incredibly valuable! We hope to see new faces at our Blender event when we resume the series in September. Please stay tuned for details this Summer!

Emily is one of 9 founders selected for the first cohort of the Roux Institute’s new Future of Healthcare Founder Residency program. Learn more about this program here.

Interested in being a Blender speaker or know a colleague who might want to share their innovative idea to an unmet care need to a diverse audience for support, guidance, and feedback? Please complete this online form or reach out to Kim Harvey with any questions. We’d love to hear from you! 



MaineHealth Innovation Open Office Hours

Every other Friday, 12-1 pm

Next sessions:

July 14 + July 28 

Register Here

BioME Virtual Coffee Hour: Research Spotlights

July 26

Register Here

BioME Annual Conference

September 21

Learn More


Learn + Discover

Intellectual Property Information Session

2nd Wednesday

of the month, 7:30-8 am

July 12

 Register Here


Innovation Cohort

Application deadline

October 1

Apply Here

UMaine Foster Center of Innovation I-Corps Program

Learn More


Seed Funding

MaineHealth Ignite Fund

Application deadline October 1

Apply Here

Maine Venture Fund Microfund Investments

Learn More

Innovation Stories

We're mapping stories across the MaineHealth system to highlight the great work happening from care team members and to inspire others to share their story. Do you have an innovative story in your work you'd like to share? Reach out to our email at [email protected].

Adventure Awaits: SMHC’s Escape Room Combines Collaboration and Learning

Southern Maine Healthcare (SMHC) took a unique take on the Escape Room game at the hospital’s annual skills fair, a mandatory training event for nurses, CNAs, site techs, ED techs and OR techs. Fun, team challenges were designed to test and reinforce no-harm index topics, such as Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTI), Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and pressure ulcers. To complete a room, teams work together at seven puzzle-solving stations and undo five lock boxes using only clues in the room and teamwork.

UNE: Chancel Diazenza, Morgan Desmond, Cameron Mann, Matthew McDonald, Izzi Marcea, and Kyle Woodruff. 

SMHC: Jennifer Smith, Sarah Warner, Melissa Allen, Kathleen Sheehan-Tartre, and Hannah Ambrose.

Kathleen Sheehan-Tartre, Nursing Director of Nursing Education and Staff Development at SMHC, hosted an escape room workshop, presented by Michael Defrancisco, Clinical Nurse Educator at Maine Medical Center, with staff development specialists, clinical nurse educators and UNE innovation students to inspire innovative ways to deliver education. SMHC’s Staff Development Specialist Hannah Ambrose and Surgical Services Nurse Educator Kate Campbell developed the escape room idea for the hospital’s annual skills fair. The SMHC team collaborated with Justine Bassett, director of Innovation at the University of New England (UNE), to bring the idea to life. 

So far, SMHC’s escape room has been used more than 100 times, and the event has inspired friendly competition using a leaderboard so teams can see their rankings and compete against each other.

Read More

Our goal in developing the escape room was to create a meaningful, fun and interactive learning experience for staff. We had so much fun collaborating with the UNE students and they helped our vision come to life. As the moderator, it was exciting to see staff members work together as a team to solve puzzles to escape. The room was filled with a lot of laughs and encouraging words amongst those participating!” – Hannah Ambrose, Staff Development Specialist, SMHC Nursing Administration

Celebrating MaineHealth Innovators

Congratulations to Theresa Roelke, NP, who has made great strides in her innovation project, Pocket Nodules, recently!

  • Pen Bay Medical Center will be receiving 10 Pocket Nodules to use in the ED.
  • Teach Me RX, the company Theresa started, is now officially a vendor to AstraZeneca, a multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company.
  • Pocket Nodules will be translated to French.
  • The non-profit arm of AstraZeneca, Lung Ambition Alliance, will be handing out Pocket Nodules will be distributed at the Physician Education Resource Oncology Annual Conference in Chicago.

IP 101

By Angelina Clancy

Step 2 of the Intellectual Property Process - IP Evaluation

By bringing your novel idea to MaineHealth Innovation, the Intellectual Property (IP) process has begun!

Previously we went over the first step, Initial Disclosure. During this step, we walk care team members through the process of completing the invention disclosure form and submitting it to Todd Keiller, Director of Intellectual Property and Tech Transfer. Together, you will determine if there is intellectual property to protect. This review is part of the second step in the process, IP Evaluation

During the second step, Todd will work with you and a patent lawyer to determine whether the innovation is patentable. According to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), an invention is not able to be patented if it is one of the following:

  • Already patented
  • Described in a printed publication
  • In public use
  • Currently on sale
  • Available to the public

A prior art search is also conducted to see if there are any similar products or services already available. To do this, three methods much be conducted: text searching, patent classification searching, and patent citation searching.

Prior art can be considered as imagery, products, journal and magazine articles, books, manuals, websites, conference proceedings, scientific papers, and US or foreign patents and published patent applications. Prior art can be published physically or electronically. Detailed information on prior art searches can be found through the United States Patent and Trademark Office website.

The most critical take away is, if you think you have something patentable, make sure to contact the Innovation Center prior to any public presentation. You lose patent rights if you publicly disclose prior to filing a patent.

Next month, we will dive into the third step in the process, Market Analysis. This includes a deep dive into your target market and competitors. With this information you’re able to determine potential success.

To learn if your idea may qualify as Intellectual Property, register for an upcoming information session here. Meetings occur on the second Wednesday of every month from 7:30-8:00 am.


By Angelina Clancy

Secondary Research

When investigating all aspect of the design space, it’s important to remember the value of research. Last month we focused on engaging the users impacted by your potential solution. You may conduct interviews by engaging in open-ended conversations, or have users draw out their ideas to gain unique insights and perspectives.

When conducting various user interviews, there is likely to be moments where you’ll find more context, history, or data is needed. This is where secondary research comes in. This term, used in the Design Kit from, refers to the broad range of sources you can use to collect valuable facts when investigating the design space. Though we cannot rely solely on it, research through the internet, books, newspapers, etc. gives a broader range of information than you can get through interviews alone.

It may sound like a simple idea, but good research requires time and effort. Compare your solution to what may already be out there. Discover solutions similar to yours that did and didn’t work. Gather quantitative data that will help to strengthen your proposed solution. All this information will help to gain deeper insight into the information collected from interviews and allow you to further understand if the right solution has been discovered.

As you learn more and develop your idea, reach out to us at [email protected] to share what you’ve learned! You may be the perfect fit for the fall 2023 cycle of the Innovation Cohort, an 8-week program where participants partake in collaborative brainstorming, user discovery, prototyping, and intellectual property to advance their innovative idea. Applications are now open! 

Innovation Corner

The insights and expertise of all care team members, help to build the future of health care. By highlighting a care team member involved in Innovation, we hope to create the connections necessary to foster a culture of innovation through the MaineHealth system.

Meet Angelina Clancy!

Program Coordinator, MaineHealth Innovation

What is your role at MaineHealth Innovation?

My role is to coordinate the various innovation programs and services, focusing mostly on the Innovation Cohort, Innovation funds, and Thinking Differently Workshop. I also lead the monthly Innovation e-newsletter with subscribers both internally and nationally. It provides updates, highlights, events, and education with the Innovation Center, innovators, and collaborators.

Tell us about your professional history that led you to MaineHealth?

I’ve gone through a winding path to get me here. After a year of photography school in Boston, I graduated with a BA from Central Connecticut State University in graphic design and marketing. I moved to Portland with my husband after visiting once and falling in love with Maine. Professionally, I've grown an expertise in visual communications, commercial marketing, and development skills. With this background I gained the confidence to make the move into a new field of work in healthcare, which brought me to MaineHealth Innovation. This role is the perfect balance of creative thinking and program building. I’ve been here about a year now, and am excited to learn more and grow in the development of Innovation programs. This year I received a certificate from the MIT Sloan School of Management in the Mastering Design Thinking course, and plan to continue my education to strengthen my capabilities. 

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

My favorite thing is to spend time with my family and friends, especially if it's by having a scary movie marathon. I snowshoe in the winter, paddleboard in the summer, and do yoga all year long. I’m also a big foodie. I cook a lot and like to try to make most things from scratch. I recently got into astronomy and astrophysics and have become quite a bookworm! 

What does innovation mean to you?

For me, innovation means change. For some I understand that may sound scary, however, in order to positively reinvent care, it's ultimately necessary. For many “the way it was always done” was a good reason to delay change, but it’s refreshing to see new ideas take flight and provide hope for a new and better way of doing things. To aid a culture of positive change, I provide a welcoming setting to comfortably share ideas, and use my ability to visually tell a story. Creative thinking, collaboration, and communication are all important aspects of innovation, and it will help us grow as a system and as a community. 

If you'd like to reach out to Angelina, contact her via email

MaineHealth Innovation Center Programs

Innovation Cohort | Innovation Fund | Innovation Blender |

Brewing Ideas Coffee Corner

The MaineHealth Innovation Team:

Susan Ahern - Vice President of Innovation

Nic North - Administrative Specialist III

Kim Harvey, MS - Program Manager, Innovation

Todd Keiller, MBA - Director of Intellectual Property & Tech Transfer

Angelina Clancy - Program Coordinator, Innovation

Let us know how we can help support innovation:

Email [email protected]

Can't Find Us Online?

Our page is located at the bottom of the MaineHealth website.