March 2023 | View Archived Issues

Created by Angelina Clancy


  • A Note from Susan
  • Call for Applications - Innovation in Education
  • Last Call for Innovation Ignite and Cohort Applications
  • Thinking Differently Workshop
  • Local Heath System Pop-Ups
  • February Blender Event Recap
  • Opportunities - Connect, Educate & Fund
  • Transforming Care - Mid Coast Care Team Makeover
  • The Roux Future of Healthcare Residency Program 
  • Innovator Highlight - Jeff Halter featured at BioME Virtual Coffee Hour
  • Clinical Coach Highlight - Mary Ottolini
  • IP 101
  • Innovation 101


Vice President

of Innovation


A Note from Susan

Susan Ahern - Vice President of Innovation, MaineHealth

Have you ever been to Turner, Maine? Recently, my husband Tom and I attended the One Lunger Vintage Snowmobile races in that beautiful part of the state. Snowmobilers of all ages whirled around tight corners, navigating straw bales and piles of slush; even small kids rounded the track on pint-sized machines. The course was lined with families and neighbors cheering, shouting encouragement, and getting racers back on to the track when they needed a push. A sense of energy, excitement, and forward motion vibrated in the air. As we enjoyed the spectacle, I was struck suddenly by a thought: this is what innovation looks like. 

Innovation requires brave and enthusiastic folks who are willing to rocket on to an uncertain and twisty track. The turns can be tricky, the competition fierce; there is always an element of risk. However, the experience is thrilling and the rewards can be wonderful. In order to enjoy the ride of a lifetime, innovators need a community of advocates rallying around them. Innovation can only succeed through the collaboration of many.


Thank you for showing up, pitching in, and cheering on our MaineHealth innovators. We encourage you all even to think about hopping on a snowmobile yourself—we are there for you!




Applications are Open for the Innovation in Education Award!

Applications due April 10 at 11:59 pm.

The Interprofessional Innovation in Education Fund Award is a new funding opportunity open to all 22,000 MaineHealth care team members. Medical Education (DME) and MaineHealth Innovation are collaborating to support novel ideas that solve an unmet health care professional education need.

We invite you to submit innovative learning and development models (e.g., curriculum), processes or products that will positively impact learners and help us achieve the MaineHealth vision of working together so our communities are the healthiest in America.

In the spirit of interprofessional collaboration, this award requires that the applicant and implementation team represent more than one health profession. Ideally, your innovative idea will also apply to learning and development in more than one health profession.

Learn more and apply

To learn more, sign up for a info session using the links below:

March 15, 7–8 am

March 16, 12–1 pm

March 22, 7–8 am

Last Call for Innovation

Ignite Fund Applications

Seed investment funding of up to $20,000 is provided to help innovators understand their user pain points, pilot an solution, build a prototype,

or test an assumption.

Applications due March 15 at 12:00 pm.

Learn More + Apply

Pictured: Jim Byrne, PT, posing with his prototype of the Home Health Portable Workstation. This innovation was built to allow clinicians to properly set up in every home to improve the quality and the efficiency of home health care. Learn more about this and our other current Innovation Ignite projects here

Last Call for Innovation

Cohort Applications

This 8-week program empowers care team members across MaineHealth to advance the “back of the envelope” ideas that address the unmet care needs. Learn to identify your project in innovation science, practice user discovery, prototyping, and learn about intellectual property considerations.

Applications due March 15 at 12:00 pm.

Learn More + Apply

Pictured: Obieze Nwanna-Nzewunwa, MD, presenting a prototype of his innovation Lediscan at an Innovation Cohort meeting. Obieze took part in the Innovation Cohort before being awarded Innovation Ignite funds to further advance his project.

Learn more about Lediscan

Helping Care Team Members Think Differently

“[Our team] had many many "light bulb" moments [throughout the workshop]”

“The workshop made it feel like we were all on a level-playing field when it comes to knowing to develop innovation”

“This workshop makes the organizational value of innovation more accessible!”

Since the beginning of the year, we've hosted about 16 Thinking Differently workshops with various teams throughout the MaineHealth system! It has been a delight to see the culture of innovation grow.

The workshop has received positive feedback from 96% of participants, who said they would recommend it to others.

According to 96% of participants, the workshop helped them feel more committed to fostering innovation.

94% of participants found the workshop's content practical and useful for their work practice.

Reach out to Elena Brondolo, Manager of Innovation, to learn more and book a workshop with your team!

Spreading Innovation Across the System!

"It's wonderful to know this center is available to everyone at MaineHealth"

"I get so excited seeing what projects come from our coworkers!"

The Innovation team is hosting pop-ups at local heath systems to connect with care team members.

Over the month of February, we have visited local heath systems to introduce the Innovation Center, meet with care team members, and share information about available programs and services. We've connected with a variety of employees in the system and made valuable connections that help foster a culture of innovation. Come say hi and share your ideas with us when we visit your location!

Upcoming visits:

Feb.27 - Franklin Memorial Hospital

March 3 - Stephens Memorial Hospital and Western Maine Primary Care

Connect with Angelina Clancy, Program Coordinator, Innovation, to learn more and plan a pop-up at your local health system!

During our visits we have been presenting care team members with a question - what would you like the future of healthcare to look like? So far we've received answers ranging from more collaboration, to the implementation on AI, and an increase in access. We'd love to know what you would like to see in the future of healthcare! Let us know with this survey.

February 15 Blender Event Recap by Kim Harvey

Dynamic co-founders of WAVED Medical from the University of Maine, Andre Khalil, MS, PhD and Kendra Batchelder, MS, PhD candidate, presented their innovative work focused on using a computer algorithm to help detect breast cancer at an earlier stage, to a highly interactive group of 50 inquiring minds. This fun, rapid ideation session over zoom, explored the innovation challenges Andre and Kendra face as they hope to bring their product to market with the goal of identifying more high-risk patients and getting them the care they need.

Don’t miss the next Blender event on April 12!

More details will be available in the next Innovation newsletter. 

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! 



Brewing Ideas

Coffee Corner

1st Tuesdays of the month

March 7, 8:30-9:30 am 

Join Here

MaineHealth Innovation Open Office Hours

Every other Friday, 12-1 pm

Next sessions:

March 10 + March 24 

Register Here


Learn + Discover

Intellectual Property Information Session

March 8, 7:30-8:30am

 Register Here


Innovation Cohort

Application deadline

March 15

Apply Here


Seed Funding

MaineHealth Ignite Fund


deadline March 15

Apply Here

Innovation in

Education Fund

Application deadline

April 10

Learn More + Apply

Innovations in Education Intramural Grant

Tufts University

School of Medicine

Final proposals due

March 24

Learn More + Apply

Transforming Care

Mid Coast Care Team Makeover: New Staffing Strategy is a Win-Win

Photographed, left to right: Leah Bauer, MD; Jorie Catlin, PMHNP; Alyssa Rouleau, PMHNP; Sara Jacobson, PMHNP; David Dettmann, DO

Providers at Mid Coast Hospital’s inpatient behavioral health unit have long been challenged with demanding shifts and rigid on-call schedules, which sometimes resulted in burnout and low morale. Dr. Leah Bauer worked with the care team to find an innovative way to mitigate the stress. The result is a rotating schedule that gives every NP seven days off every three weeks. The change has been a resounding success!

Three NPs are rotated through the schedule, so there is always an NP on duty. The staff is flexible and supportive of each other, filling in gaps and covering shifts, when needed. The unit physicians are better able to focus on consults and specialized care, while the NPs cover the day-to-day inpatient behavioral health patient needs.

“We have seen a dramatic improvement in efficiency and effectiveness of care – including higher patient and staff satisfaction – since transitioning to this new provider model. Our NPs and the model they created are fantastic, and we are grateful to have them on our team.” – Mackenzie Dufresne,

RN (nurse manager)

Read More

Partner Highlight

MaineHealth Partners with Roux Institute on Innovative Residency Program

MaineHealth has partnered with the Roux Institute and Northern Light Health in creating a first-of-its kind residency to drive innovation in healthcare. The Future of Healthcare Founder Residency will give health-tech entrepreneurs funding, mentorship opportunities and access to clinical spaces to help innovators develop their ideas.


Founders receive a $50,000 investment and spend 12 months working out of the Roux Institute to develop, vet and trial those potential solutions, and MaineHealth will have an equity stake in successful businesses. The goal of the program is to bring 30 early-stage companies to Maine over the next three years. We will share which companies have been selected for the program in next month’s newsletter

You can learn more about this program here.

Innovator Highlight

Pediatric Surgeon Innovator Jeff Halter at the BioME Virtual Coffee Hour!: Medical Devices

March 7, 10:00-11:00 am

Register Here

Join BioMe for a virtual hour to "learn and connect" with Maine scientists and life science professionals. Learn about the medical device sector within Maine’s life sciences industry. Speakers will introduce their companies, medical devices share information on attaining FDA approval.

We're excited to announce Jeff Halter, MD, Pediatric Surgeon, Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center, will be featured speaker at the event. He will discuss his innovation, the Halter Clip. It is an implantable clip that can be inserted through a gastronomy tube site at the time of tube removal in the office without anesthesia. It will chemically denude the lining of the tract to promote closure and healing, and close the stomach from the inside.

Learn more about the Halter Clip Innovation

Connect with Mary:


Learn more about the

MaineHealth Innovation

Clinical Coaches

Clinical Coach Highlight

Mary Ottolini, MD, MPH, MEd is the George W. Hallett MD Chair of Pediatrics at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital (BBCH) at Maine Medical Center and a Tufts University Professor of Pediatrics.

Mary is a celebrated champion of innovation in her role as the Chair of Pediatrics. She oversees the academic and clinical work of pediatric faculty at the BBCH and the MaineHealth Children’s Health Service Line, and she supports the progress of new ideas by actively taking part in innovation programs. Her clinical interest areas include the use of technology to innovate the learning process, including eLearning and simulation with augmented reality. She took part in the innovation project, Neonatal Resuscitation Simulation using Augmented Reality, was a recipient of the MaineHealth Innovation Ignite Fund and was featured in the MaineHealth Innovation Blender event series.

Mary is a nationally recognized expert in medical education with particular expertise in eLearning. During her 30 year career as a medical educator she has presented numerous workshops and original research in medical education at national meetings. She has published book chapters, review articles, and original educational research in peer-reviewed journals. She has served as the Education Chair for the Academic Pediatric Association (APA) and as the APA President. Mary was awarded the prestigious Pediatric Academic Society’s (PAS) Ray Helfer award three times for the most outstanding educational research study presented at the annual PAS meeting as well as the APA’s Teaching Program Award four times for educational programs she helped develop and implement.

Learn More about Mary

IP 101

Diving into the Basics of Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. MaineHealth uses IP and technology transfer to foster discovery and the development of inventions by care team members that will advance healthcare for the benefit of the public.

The IP process can begin when an innovator comes to the Innovation Center with their invention. We will have an informal review of the circumstances and subject matter of the invention and determine if there is IP to protect.

There are four classifications of IP that we focus on:

  1. Trademark: The look and feel of a logo. It’s your brand that you want people to recognize right away.
  2. Copyright: An exclusive legal right to copy, distribute, adapt, or display creative material. It's known by the C inside the little circle
  3. Trade Secret: Something that isn’t published or shared. It’s the secret sauce.
  4. Patent: Exclusive rights are given for something for a set period of time, and generally prevents others from making, using, or selling your invention.

At Mainehealth we deal mostly with patents, which gives exclusive rights to something for a set period of time, and generally prevents others from making, using, or selling your invention.

Below is what the development process of IP looks like:

In the coming months, we will dive into each step of the process beginning with initial disclosure which forces you to write down your idea as best as you can. This can then be presented to a patent attorney. Stay tuned to learn more! Learn More About IP


By Elena Brondolo

Framing the Challenge

Last month, we delved into the Innovation Process we follow, adapted from the Innovator's Method by Furr and Dyer. Innovation is often sparked by an initial insight or idea, which can be triggered by engaging in Discovery Skills.

This month, let's take a closer look at a potential next step you can take to continue exploring your idea. To do this, you must first define the challenge you wish to investigate. This is known as Framing Your Design Challenge. Framing the challenge involves clearly articulating the problem you want to solve and defining the scope of the work. This will help guide your investigation and ensure you stay focused on the task at hand. Check out this Frame the Design Challenge worksheet to walk you through writing your first draft of your challenge.

Next month, we will delve deeper into how you can use this challenge as a starting point to define the problem that underlies your idea. By exploring the challenge in greater detail, you can gain a better understanding of the underlying issues that need to be addressed to bring your idea to life. We'll provide you with the tools and guidance you need to effectively define the problem and start developing possible solutions!

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.

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 Assistant III

Elena Brondolo, MPH, MBA - Manager of Innovation

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:


Can't Find Us Online?

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