May 2023 | View Archived Issues

Created by Angelina Clancy


  • A Note from Susan
  • Spring 2023 Innovation Cohort
  • April Blender Event Recap
  • The Future of Healthcare Cohort Announcement
  • MIRTA Demo Day featuring Bethany Sweet
  • Opportunities - Connect, Educate & Fund
  • Innovation in the MaineHealth System - The Gender Clinic
  • IP Update
  • Innovation 101


Vice President

of Innovation


A Note from Susan

Susan Ahern - Vice President of Innovation, MaineHealth

Think Global, Act Local

Remember that great story about the gentle wings of a butterfly creating a tsunami on the other side of the world? It’s easy to think that innovation on a global scale requires herculean effort and massive resources. But just like the butterfly, one small idea can have a tremendous impact. By thinking globally, but acting locally, we can create immense change.

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of meeting some folks over at Environmental Services who are doing just that. Taj Williams, Supervisor of Support Services, told me a story. For a long time, Environmental Services has faced a troubling problem: many staff and patients find the standard OSHA safety labels on dangerous chemicals very difficult to interpret. Common language barriers can further hinder understanding of the complex pictograms, leading to a situation putting many at risk.

Taj’s manager, Heather Carll, came to him and his lead, Julia Afonso, with an idea. They couldn’t revamp an entire set of official national symbols. But what if they printed some stickers for in-hospital use?

The small team selected, purchased, and printed stickers themselves, with Julia working single-handedly to place them on containers and buckets. In just two months, what began as a simple sticker project focused in one department has grown into an effective, widespread, and intuitive labeling system in use across all of Maine Medical Center, with plans in place to continue expansion throughout MaineHealth. The team’s innovation is improving care across the system, contributing to harm reduction in keeping with the MaineHealth Strategic Plan, and empowering others to see the potential in their own ideas.

Think about that small idea that you have in your back pocket—what might happen if you flap your wings? 


Susan Ahern

Program Updates

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

Congratulations to the Spring 2023 Innovation Cohort!

Seven MaineHealth care team member project teams have been invited to join the Spring 2023 MaineHealth Innovation Cohort, an 8-week program that empowers care team members to advance "back of the envelope” ideas. During the first session on April 11, the participants shared their innovative ideas and began the early investigation to advance their projects. Over the next seven weeks, Innovation Cohort members will work on user discovery, initial prototyping, developing their pitch, and explore intellectual property considerations for their work. Stay tuned for updates on these projects!

Learn more about the Innovation Cohort

We are excited to welcome 7 new teams to the Cohort and look forward to working together!

Creating Affordable Reliable Transportation for Patients

Elizabeth Durant - Quality, Safety & Clinical R.N., Western Maine Primary Care

A Matter of Balance Fall Prevention Program App Development

Kirsten Dorsey - National Program Manager, MaineHealth Corporate

Education for MaineHealth Care Teams Treating Alcohol Use Disorder

Richard Butler - ED Tech, Southern Maine Health Care

Malnutrition Screening Using Facial Morphology

Paul Blakeslee - Clinical Dietitian, Maine Medical Center

Orientation One-

Chart App

Taffy Davis - Clinical Informatics Specialist, Franklin Community Health Network

Vicky Zerbato - Nursing Professional Development Specialist, Maine Medical Center

Kari Robinson - Clinical Nurse Educator, Mid Coast Parkview Hospital

Early Warning: Exploring Risk-Factors for Hospital-Acquired Pressure Injuries

Using the Electronic Medical Record

Tricia Foley - Certified Wound Ostomy Continence Nurse, Maine Medical Center

Nicole Radmore - Certified Wound Ostomy Continence Nurse, Maine Medical Center

Disability Inclusion Consulting Services

Chris Hynes - Employer Relations Specialist, Maine Medical Center

Susan Gatti - Employer Relations Specialist, Maine Medical Center

Jennifer Kimble - Director of Vocational Services, Maine Medical Center

Blender Event Recap

Senscio Systems - Intelligently Powering Virtual Care

Presenter: Keiron Stoddard, Chief Technology Officer, Senscio Systems

by Kim Harvey

A diverse audience of local clinicians, researchers, entrepreneurs, and subject matter experts, engaged in a lively brainstorm session on April 12 with Sensio Systems Chief Technology Officer, Keiron Stoddart. This collective inquiry and idea-sharing event focused on the challenges Sensio Systems aims to address as it continues to seek ways to empower consumers with the resources to take control of their own quality of life and well-being from the comfort of their home, while also supporting providers who care for them. If you are interested in viewing this past Blender event, please reach out to us for the recording.

Details about our June Innovation Blender will be released in the next few weeks! Stay in touch with us to hear more!

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! 

Innovation Partnership Highlights

MaineHealth Innovation serves as the connective tissue that links innovators with global experts and pioneers. We tap into strategic partnerships and our health system network to bring ideas to life.

The Roux Institute's Future of Healthcare Founder Residency to Jumpstart Maine's Health Tech Industry!

The Roux Institute kicked off the Future of Healthcare Founder Residency on Wednesday, April 26, welcoming its first cohort of nine companies to Portland. The year-long program was developed in partnership with MaineHealth and Northern Light Health, two of Maine’s leading healthcare providers, as well as the Maine Venture Fund. The Future of Healthcare Founder Residency is an exciting community collaboration aimed at identifying promising new healthtech start-ups to address unmet care needs while simultaneously cultivating a dynamic workforce and economy here in Maine. This program is a novel example of our vision and working together so our communities are the healthiest in America.

Programs like The Future of Healthcare Founders Residency have the real potential to improve patient care, reduce healthcare costs and allow our care team to collaborate with community members on the evidence-based treatments of tomorrow right here in Maine,” said MaineHealth CEO Andy Mueller, MD. “MaineHealth is proud to partner with the Roux on this project as part of our vision of working together so our communities are the healthiest in America.

2023 Cohort Participants:

Each of the nine companies involved in the residency are focused on creating innovative healthcare solutions, from artificial intelligence virtual healthcare assistants to a medical device that can detect cancer cells in under 20 seconds. As part of the program, each company receives funding, and a vast array of programmatic, mentorship and institutional support.

Learn more about the program

Interested in collaborating with one of the companies, providing mentorship, or learning more? Email us at [email protected]

Bethany Sweet to Participate in MIRTA 6.0 Demo Day

May 9 in Orno, ME and May 11 in Portland, ME

MaineHealth and the University of Maine embarked on an inaugural pilot program by pairing a University of Maine MBA student with a MaineHealth Innovator through the Foster Center of Innovation Maine Innovation Research and Technology Accelerator (MIRTA) Program. With funding provided by the MIRTA Program, Bethany Sweet, CCLS, MaineHealth collaborated with an MBA student to expedite the project's development and offer a valuable learning experience for the graduate student.

Bethany will be sharing the progress of her project, "Play Portal," along with four other teams during the 6th Annual MIRTA Demo Day on May 9th in Orono, ME and May 11 in Portland, ME. Play Portal is a 3D printed port-a-catheter for pediatric patients used to be fully simulated and placed within a familiar comfort object like stuffed animals and dolls.

Learn more about the program



Brewing Ideas

Coffee Corner

1st Tuesday of the month

May 2, 8:30-9:30 am 

Register Here

MaineHealth Innovation Open Office Hours

Every other Friday, 12-1 pm

Next sessions:

May 5 + May 19 

Register Here

BioME Women

in BioScience

Networking Event

May 24

Learn More


Learn + Discover

Intellectual Property Information Session

2nd Wednesday

of the month

May 10, 7:30-8:00am

 Register Here

2023 Maine

Entrepreneurs Summit

May 25

Learn More + Register


Seed Funding

Maine Venture Fund Microfund Investments

Learn More

National Institutes

of Health New

Innovator Award

Applications due August 18

Learn More

Innovation in the MaineHealth System

Eliminating Wait Lists Through Initial Orientation at the Gender Clinic

The Gender Clinic is a multidisciplinary program supporting transgender and gender diverse people across Maine and parts of New Hampshire. The program began as a pediatric program, providing services to a very small group of patients. As the demand for this care increased, several problems arose as The Gender Clinic waitlist grew to 8-10 months at times. The evolving field of gender medicine was exploding and people needed support. In response to the increased demand, the program began to have discussions about narrowing care. How could The Gender Clinic appropriately schedule and triage such a large influx of patients, with varying needs, without limiting care or expanding current resources?

The team reviewed services provided and how they can be delivered in the most efficient manner. The solution became a clinical new patient orientation appointment with an LCSW. This is a billable psychotherapy service where patients receive psychoeducation about program services, diagnoses, and possible treatment goals. They have the opportunity to share their concerns and receive support in the moment, either direct clinical support or facilitated peer support, as the appointments are with an LCSW. After the initial appointment, patients can choose whether they have received the level of support that they need at this time. This process allows for a partnership with the patient to triage their needs. It also allows patients receive a level of clinical support and initial treatment planning. 

Today, without having to increase provider FTE, The Gender Clinic is able to immediately call and schedule all new patients that occurs within 3-6 weeks. Patients are never on a waitlist and are always scheduled when they are ready. Services that are provided are billed for, urgent patients are readily identified, and patients are able to access a level of support during a time where they would otherwise be waiting.

Learn more about the Gender Clinic

IP Update

By Todd Keiller

MaineHealth Tech Transfer provides an invention disclosure process, intellectual property filing support, licensing negotiation, and commercialization pathways. The MaineHealth Intellectual Property Policy is a generous benefit to those MaineHealth care team members who have a patentable idea.

Congratulations to our innovators for moving forward on intellectual property milestones!

  • MaineHealth has filed a Trademark for Bethany Sweet, CCLS, and her innovation, Play Portal. This Trademark will be unique to Play Portal and make it a recognizable brand. Learn more here

  • MaineHealth filed three new patents. This will give them exclusive rights for a set period of time, and will generally prevent others from making, using, or selling the invention.
  • Peter Brooks, PhD, and his team have two new patents filed for their novel cancer therapeutic project. Learn more here
  • Aaron Brown, PhD, had filed a patent for his project, Methods, Compositions, and Kits for Producing Beige Adipocytes and Treating Metabolic Disorders. Learn more here


By Angelina Clancy

Talking to Users

Last month we covered Mapping the Design Space. This involves understanding the problem you’re trying to solve for by mapping out the scope it may reach. This month, let’s dive into the method of identifying users and talking to them. This helps us learn more about the challenge area we defined with the Frame the Design Challenge activity.

In the Mapping the Design Space activities, we asked you to think about mapping out the people involved in your challenge area. Who are the end users? Who are the customers (the one who pays)? Who are the stakeholders that might be impacted or involved in this space? By identifying these people, you’ve now created a list of references to engage in learning more.

This month, we encourage you to get out there and start talking to some of those people! Talking to Humans by Giff Constable is a quick, easy to follow guide on how to talk to potential users, customers, and stakeholders about your idea.

The guide provides you will simple prompts to engage others in asking open-ended questions, and listening carefully to gain deep insights into the needs and preferences of those you are designing for. The key takeaway is that successful innovative solutions are built on a foundation of understanding and serving real user needs, which can be uncovered through conversations.

Check it out and let us know who you’re talking to, what question’s you’re asking, and what new insights you’ve learned!

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:

Email [email protected]

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