Lesley Solomon

Earlier this month, Brigham Innovation Hub Executive Director Lesley Solomon met with faculty from the Department of Dermatology to explain what the Innovation Hub, or the iHub, is and how it can partner with departments and divisions across BWHC to foster innovation. Solomon described the iHub’s success in engaging with the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care and the departments of Surgery and Radiology to launch group-specific innovation series to solve problems and bring ideas to fruition. Department of Dermatology leadership expressed interest in hosting a Dermatology Innovation Series this year and finding other ways to work closely with the iHub.

Since opening in the fall of 2013, the iHub team has worked to “provide resources and support to accelerate the development of devices, diagnostics and digital health applications from ideation to commercialization,” said Solomon.

A survey administered just after iHub’s launch in 2013 revealed that 72 percent of BWH clinicians had an idea on how to improve health care.

“The number one thing that they needed in order to move those ideas forward was clarity on next steps,” said Solomon. “That was very eye opening to us.”

The iHub works to gather designers, entrepreneurs, business people, project managers and other professionals to take a clinician’s idea or invention to the next level. In one example Solomon cited, Sophia Koo, MD, a physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases was able to develop a breathalyzer to avoid performing high-risk lung biopsies on immune compromised patients to detect aspergillosis. Koo had the vision, but needed help thinking about how to move the idea from a research project to a product that might be commercializable.

“There is a huge barrier between ‘academic’ and ‘business builder’ and the iHub can really help in bridging that gap,” Koo said.

In addition to helping out individual clinicians, like Koo, the iHub collaborates with departments and divisions by initiating two to three month innovation series.

The series includes three stages: brainstorming a problem, developing an idea and propelling forward with collaboration.

Each kicks off with a Problem Pitch Session to identify challenges or problems to improve patient care. Next, at a Solution Build Session, the department develops solutions in teams that can include engineers and entrepreneurs. The ultimate goal is to identify commercializable or research ideas that can be further developed through the collaboration of people from different disciplines.

At the end of Solomon’s presentation, members of the Department of Dermatology welcomed the idea of starting an innovation series as an effective way to bring the clinical and research side of the department together.

“Engaging with the iHub to launch a dermatology innovation series will help us bring our clinical and research teams together around important problems,” said Thomas Kupper, MD, chairman of the Department of Dermatology. “We look forward to working with the iHub to find new ways to encourage innovation and advance great ideas.”

If you are interested in running an innovation series with your department or program, email ihub@partners.org or visit www.bwhihub.org.

Upcoming events for the iHub include an Idea Lab with Microsoft regarding machine learning in health care that will take place June 22.