The connective tissue between research, education and care

September 27, 2021
Vice President
of Innovation

A Note from...
Susan Ahern, Vice President of Innovation

From Damariscotta, ME to North Conway, NH, innovation is embedded in all we do at MaineHealth as we work together to create the healthiest communities in America. Our people - all 22,000 of us - have the insights and expertise to transform care through innovation. 

Over the past 18 months, we have defined innovation as a novel solution to solve an unmet care need. Innovation can be as simple as a headband to lift oxygen tubes off the back of patients' ears. It can be a new process or care team model. Innovation is all about thinking differently and learning to ask the right questions to the right people at the right time.

Established in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the MaineHealth Innovation division serves as the connective tissue between our outstanding research, high quality education and life-saving patient care. MaineHealth Innovation aims to foster a culture of innovation by connecting, educating and funding MaineHealth innovators as they develop novel solutions. 

Innovation takes a global village and our five core programs are designed to guide MaineHealth innovators along their innovation journey with support from countless MaineHealth colleagues and strategic partners throughout Northern New England. Together, we are transforming care for our patients and communities like never before.

Thank you for all you do. We welcome the opportunity to innovate with you!
The USM Maker Innovation Studio (MIST) in Portland, ME is equipped with 3D printers, thermoformers, laser cutters, experiment and vacuum chambers, enameling stations and many more prototyping tools.
University of Southern Maine: Maker Innovation Studio (MIST)
MaineHealth Innovation is pleased to have the University of Southern Maine (USM) College of Engineering as a strategic partner. The USM Maker Innovation Studio (MIST) serves as an engineering arm of MaineHealth Innovation where innovators can develop and refine prototypes of their innovations. The MIST team, led by So Young Han, PhD and Dean Jeremy Qualls, PhD, provide years of innovation and engineering experience to help make "back of the envelope" ideas into a tangible solution to a healthcare need.

The MIST lab is available to any MaineHealth care team member associated with MaineHealth Innovation.

Innovation Cohort | Innovation Elective | Innovation Fund | Innovation Blender | Brewing Ideas Coffee Corner
MaineHealth Innovation Fund - Fall 2021 Applications are In!

The MaineHealth Innovation Fund review cycle for Fall 2021 is currently underway. Thank you to all who applied! Applications were received for the Ignite Fund ($20K) and the new Bonfire Fund ($100K) from the following six MaineHealth locations:

  • MaineHealth Integrated Services
  • Maine Behavioral Healthcare
  • Maine Medical Center
  • Mid Coast Hospital
  • Pen Bay Medical Center
  • Waldo Country General Hospital

Applications are being reviewed a team of 20+ interdisciplinary MaineHealth care team members and external entrepreneurial and innovation experts. Invited applicants will participate in the Ignite Fund and Bonfire Fund "Pitch Days" to gain real-time feedback from reviewers.

Final funding decisions will be announced in early November 2021.
A peak at a user's view of a traditional neonatal training mannequin with an augmented reality overlay in the ArtforMS innovation.
The CAPE team at a product demo event for Maine Medical Center leadership in February 2021.

Michael Ferguson, MD presented at MALSI+ 2021: The Hub at Warp Speed, From Lab to Jab to Beyond, showcasing the latest developments in the Neonatal Resuscitation Simulation Training (ARTforMS) project. Michael and partner Mary Ottolini, MD, MPH, MEd, are working with Case Western University to develop the augmented reality software and may soon be creating a new company to license the product.

Samir Haydar, DO, Elizabeth Hamilton, MD and Kaitlyn Main, DO are forming a company for the Collapsible Aerosolized Particle Enclosure (CAPE) along with partners from Baker Co. and Thermoformed Plastics New England. A local medical device business expert has stepped in as Interim CEO to advance the business and secure additional funds for expansion.
Over the course of the next several MaineHealth Innovation Newsletters, we will be sharing tips for developing skills to “think differently” and adopt a more innovative mindset. Each month we will review a new Discovery Skill based on the work of Jeffrey Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton Christensen, leaders in disruptive innovation. Using these skills together may inspire and challenge you to create new innovative insights. 

Discovery Skill: Questioning

“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask.” - Albert Einstein

Asking questions can help us find inspiration for solving complex problems. The courage to be curious can leave us with an abundance of new information. 

As you go about your daily work, consider keeping a “question-centered” notebook or list on your phone of questions that arise from your daily tasks. Are you seeing opportunities to improve or reimagine your work to address unmet care needs? For example, ask questions like “What is happening?” to describe the opportunity you see, and “Who is it happening to?” or “Where is it happening?” Start to think about “what caused” this to happen. Ask yourself and your team “What if we…?” and “How might we…?” questions to identify potential innovative ideas.

Skills in Action: MaineHealth Innovator Sara Cox, CNRN, creator of the Johnny Jumper gown first asked “What is happening when clinicians are trying to access patients while they are laying down in gowns?” Innovator Deb Flint, creator of the Oxygen Therapy Headband that lifts oxygen tubes off the back of patient ears, asked “What is causing skin abrasions and discomfort for chronic oxygen users?”

Taking the Next Step: Join the MaineHealth Innovation team and fellow innovators at the bi-weekly Brewing Ideas Coffee Corner to start sharing your curiosity and the questions you have identified. No question is too small to share! Join on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays at 7:30am via Zoom
Help us celebrate innovation!
We are always looking to learn about innovation happening across MaineHealth, and we would love to hear from you!

Let us know how we can help support innovation: