June 2023 | View Archived Issues

Created by Angelina Clancy


  • A Note from Susan
  • Call for Applications - Fall 2023 Ignite Fund and Cohort
  • Save the Date - June Blender Event
  • Innovation Coffee Corner Reminder
  • New Innovation Video - Intellectual Property
  • Opportunities - Connect, Educate & Fund
  • Transforming Care - VR in Pediatric Care
  • Future of Healthcare Site Visit Event
  • Thinking Differently Workshop
  • Innovation Pop-Up Visit Brainstorming Question
  • Clinical Coach Highlight - Rebecca Hoffman
  • Innovation 101


Vice President

of Innovation


A Note from Susan

Susan Ahern - Vice President of Innovation, MaineHealth

What a spring it’s been this year in Maine. The sun is shining, the birds singing; the world around us is bursting with vibrant color. Brave new life is fighting for a start, digging in its roots, and hustling to stand out in the cacophony. Flowers are exploding by the hundreds and racing each other for the sun.

It’s all gotten me thinking about intellectual property.

Wait, what? Yes, you read that right! Spring is such an excellent metaphor for the birth and growth of ideas, but it is also a time of real risk and competition. Just as newly sprouted flowers must compete with each other for light, nutrients, and water in order to thrive and succeed, our newborn ideas must be protected in order to reach their full potential.

“It’s your intellectual property… you want it protected. It’s also a race. Somebody might be thinking about it at the same time as you, and if that person files before you, that person gets recognition for that intellectual property. So there’s that timed element to it.” – Obieze Nwanna-Nzewunwa, Surgical Resident and MaineHealth Innovator

Here at MaineHealth Innovation, we offer a wide variety of intellectual property services to any care team member. Securing a patent or licensing a product doesn’t need to be an intimidating or difficult process—we walk beside you every step of the way. In this month’s newsletter, we are excited to share with you our newest Youtube video, which highlights our intellectual property services, information from Todd Keiller, Director of Technology Transfer, and the IP stories of several of our innovators. You can see the video here.

You are the innovator. You have wonderful ideas. Let us help you reach the sun!

Program Updates

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

Call for Applications! Advance Your Innovative Idea through the

Innovation Cohort and Innovation Ignite Fund

Applications are due October 1 at 12:00 p.m.

Innovation Cohort

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.

Learn More + Apply

View Bethany Sweet's Play Portal Innovation Here

Learn how the Innovation Cohort helped advance Bethany Sweet's, Play Portal.

Innovation Ignite Fund

Need help accelerating your idea? This program provides seed investment funding of up to $20,000 to help innovators understand their user pain points, pilot an solution, build a prototype, or test an assumption.

Learn More + Apply

View Sara Cox's NewGown Innovation

Learn about how the Innovation Ignite Fund helped advance Sara Cox's, NewGown.

Save the Date!

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

Wednesday, June 14

12:00-12:45 p.m. via Zoom

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

About the Event

For women’s health clinics, Mother of Fact offers a digital health platform that connects patients with critical access to registered dietitians. The mission of Mother of Fact is to save lives by providing equitable access to lifesaving maternal and infant nutrition guidance, health confidence, evidenced-based information, and better maternal care. This mission is centered around the belief that every mother and infant should have access to the resources they need to thrive, regardless of their socioeconomic status, location, or any other factor.

Mother of Fact is attempting to disrupt a $250 billion healthcare delivery market with a scalable, wraparound digital health model that can tackle the US maternal care crisis, and unacceptable maternal and infant death rates in the US, using cost-effective preventative nutrition care. The company's evidence-based B2B2C platform strives to provide access to nutrition tracking, preventative monitoring, and daily coaching from credentialed dietitians. Mother of Fact is working to institute seamless HIPAA-secure technology, providing easy and impact-driven patient data sharing - positioned to be integral to women’s health clinics and all stages of pregnancy, the first year of motherhood, and beyond. Learn more about Mother of Fact.

Register for the Event

Meet Emily Sylvester

As founder and CEO of Mother of Fact, Emily is a nationally recognized registered dietitian and board-certified lactation consultant who has been practicing for over 12 years, performing high-risk care for thousands of moms and babies. Her experience managing physicians and support staff in large pediatric and women’s health clinics gives Emily a deep understanding of the value of critical nutrition care for clinical organizations, families, and public health outcomes. She is the president of the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition and was recognized as the 2018 Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Emily is the proud mom of 3 babies under the age of 8. Emily is an alumni of Techstars Boulder (Winter 2023) and is currently a Future of Healthcare Founder in residence with the Roux Institute at Northeastern University. Learn more about Emily 

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! 

Start Your Innovation Journey by Joining the June Innovation Coffee Corner! 

Join Innovation on Tuesday, June 6, from 8:30-9:30 a.m. over Zoom, for an informal hour of fun and engaging conversation. We’ll spend the first ten minutes covering Innovation 101.The rest of the hour will consist of networking with colleagues around the system and brainstorming innovation ideas. Registration is necessary to attend this event. Register Here

Intellectual Property Fosters Discovery and Development of Inventions

Many care team members come to the Innovation Center to learn about intellectual property and to seek guidance on their innovation ideas. Watch our new Innovation video and hear from a few MaineHealth innovators who have been engaged with IP. Watch the video

MaineHealth Innovation: Intellectual Property



Brewing Ideas

Coffee Corner

1st Tuesday of the month

June 6, 8:30-9:30 am 

Register Here

MaineHealth Innovation Open Office Hours

Every other Friday, 12-1 pm

Next sessions:

June 2 + June 16 + June 30 

Register Here

2023 Annual Symposium on Risks and Opportunities of AI in Pharmaceutical Medicine

June 5

Register Here

The BIO International Convention

June 5-8

Learn More


Learn + Discover

Intellectual Property Information Session

2nd Wednesday

of the month

June 14, 7:30-8:00am

 Register Here


Innovation Cohort

Application deadline

October 1

Apply Here

Sensing & AI Ethics: Applications in Health Webinar

June 9

Register Here

Social Media Analysis for Public Health Applications Seminar

June 7

Register Here


Seed Funding

MaineHealth Ignite Fund

Application deadline October 1

Apply Here

Maine Venture Fund Microfund Investments

Learn More

National Institutes

of Health New

Innovator Award

Applications due August 18

Learn More

Transforming Care

Easing Anxiety: VR Helps Pediatric Patients through Scary Procedures

When pediatric patients require infusion therapy, the experience can often make them feel anxious or nervous. Dr. Aaron Weiss, Nurse Amanda McGeachey and their colleagues at the new Sam L. Cohen Pediatric Infusion Center at Maine Children’s Cancer Program (MCCP) wanted to alleviate the stress for these kids and thought virtual reality might be the answer.

They brought the idea to MaineHealth Innovation and took part in the 2022 Spring Cohort to develop the concept. With the support and guidance of the Cohort, they’ve created a program to provide patient’s virtual and augmented reality experiences to distract them and create a calming environment during their procedures. Moving forward, more staff will be trained to assist patients with VR, and there’s potential to expand VR access to other locations, such as the emergency room, radiology and radiation therapy, where the ability to remain still during a procedure can be critical for patient care. Read More

“I think the biggest positive so far about the VR headset is that it’s almost like a video game and it seems like it’s something they’re familiar with. When they have the headset on, they really aren’t thinking about what’s going on around them (i.e. port access, lab draws), and they’re easily distracted with telling me what underwater animals they can interact with or which desert animals they help find water. When some kids come into clinic, they’ll immediately say, ’I need the VR for my access,’ which has been really helpful to us. It’s been awesome to be able to follow along with what they see just by having the paper that tells you the times/animals/what’s happening next.”

– Megan Walls, CNA, MCCP Certified Nursing Assistant

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.

Creating Pathways of Collaboration with the Future of Healthcare Founder Residency

On May 9 the 2023 Future of Healthcare Founder Residency Cohort received an exceptionally warm welcome from MaineHealth CEO Andy Mueller, our Regional Leaders, Andy Patstone, Trampas Hutches and Joel Botler and many other Care Team Leaders at a MaineHealth site introduction. Throughout the day, Founders and MaineHealth Care Team members forged over 30 connections which include plans for clinical shadowing, cross-institution collaboration and the exploration of future projects. We are so pleased with the momentum and energy created at this event, and we look forward to creating additional pathways for collaboration and innovation in the future.

For more information on the Founders and the program, please reach out to Moriah Folsom: [email protected]

Photographed: Dora Mills, MD, MPH, Chief Health Improvement Officer at MaineHealth.

Thinking Differently in Health Care

Elena Brondolo, Manager of Innovation, and Angelina Clancy, Program Coordinator, Innovation, have guided the Thinking Differently workshop across the MaineHealth system since fall 2022. It has been a delight to see the culture of innovation grow in care team members!

"I found the activities especially effective and memorable."

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

23 Workshops completed

6 Local health systems/entities

19 departments participated

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.

We can all play a role in creating a climate that encourages curiosity and creative thinking, the development of new ideas, and the implementation of novel solutions to transform the way we deliver care!

MaineHealth Innovation Pop-Up Visit Brainstorm:

What does the Future of Health Care Look Like to You?

Since February, MaineHealth Innovation has hosted pop-up visits at 10 local heath systems. We've met many care team members and made valuable connections, introduced the Innovation Center, and shared information about available programs and services.

During these visits, we collected responses to the question, "What does the future of health care look like to you?" On an ever-changing path, we're interested in knowing what care team members would like to see for the future of MaineHealth. The most recurring concept was collaboration, which is a key part of moving forward as a system.

This collection of ideas is valuable insight and will help us all achieve our mission of working together so our communities are the healthiest in America. Below is a compilation of the responses we received across the system.

To learn more and plan a pop-up at your local health system, connect with Angelina Clancy, Program Coordinator, Innovation.

Clinical Coach Highlight

Clinical Coaches help drive the success of MaineHealth Innovation by providing clinical leadership and expertise as innovators work to solve unmet care needs.

Connect with Rebecca:

[email protected]

Learn more about the

MaineHealth Innovation

Clinical Coaches

Innovation is the practice of making imagination come to life. Not only does innovation generate better ways to provide healthcare, it also contributes to the sustainability and spark of the organization. The MaineHealth Innovation Center provides a welcoming home for imagination to come to life. It offers a safe and encouraging space to harness curiosity, courage, and transformative ideas into reality.”

Rebecca Hoffmann is the Senior Director of Clinical Innovation and Training at Maine Behavioral Healthcare (MBH) in Portland Maine and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine. She earned both her Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Studies and a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from Syracuse University. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist with over twenty years of experience working in behavioral health.

As an organizational leader, Rebecca oversees community and state-wide innovation and change efforts related to behavioral health. These innovation endeavors have a particular focus on the adoption of evidence-based practices and the use of implementation science principles. In addition, she manages large federally funded behavioral health research and service grants that focus on providing care and treatment for children and families that have been exposed to trauma. These programs focus on prevention of childhood exposure to violence, implementation of evidence-based trauma treatment, and fostering professional resiliency.

Rebecca has extensive training and practice in the fields of childhood trauma, professional resilience, community coalition building, and implementation science. She has published numerous resources related to child traumatic stress. She has been a MaineHealth Innovation Clinical Coach since 2022. Learn more about Rebecca


By Angelina Clancy

Visualizing User Insights

Now that we’ve had a spark for an idea, we need to investigate the underlying problem. We talked last month about talking to users. By mapping out the design space, you will discover all the potential people involved in the problem you’re trying to solve. In Talking to Humans by Giff Constable, you learned to engage these users by asking open-ended questions, and listening carefully to gain insights into the needs and preferences of those you are designing for.

A second engagement option is to draw out what these users are thinking regarding the problem. The activity, Drawing it Out, from, guides participants through a process of visualizing ideas to spur deeper and different conversations. Either you can take on the task, or the user. A quick sketch, a graph, or timeline is a fantastic way to bridge potential language barriers and keep a record of your discoveries. This process will also help you learn unique insights. Often times the person participating is able to organize their thoughts visually and bring up ideas and conversation in a different way than talking.

You don’t need to be an artist for this exercise to work. Gaining new perspectives through a visual element will only further the insight into the problem you’re trying to solve. New and often better ideas come from visualization.

We encourage you to take out a pen and paper and get conversations started by drawing out some ideas. Reach out and let us know what you’ve learned! [email protected]. 

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]

Can't Find Us Online?

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