When I had applied to the Innovation Fellowship at the Critical Creative Innovative Thinking Forum at the Aga Khan University, little did I know that it would make me more confident in my decision (or rather, aspiration) to pursue the unconventional route in medicine and healthcare: I know now that my vision for promoting an interdisciplinary approach towards holistic health encompassing the ever-evolving demands of healthcare entrepreneurship is not unshared.
Ever since I have joined CCIT, I have been approached by many people as to the real nature of what this forum is about. The Critical Creative Innovative Thinking Forum at AKUH is a unique hub of creativists working to identify novel problems in the healthcare ecosystem of an LMIC like Pakistan and ideating low-cost solutions with sustainable developmental goals. Founded in 2013, CCIT has delved into health-centered Hackathons, Ignites, Innovation Skills Assessment, Narrative Medicine, and Ideation. In January 2020, CCIT launched a one-of-its-kind fellowship to train professionals to ideate their own innovations for healthcare, biomedicine, and social innovation using the very valuable and relevant tools of information technology, business management and entrepreneurship, public health and research, biomedical engineering, leadership, human-centered design thinking, and even a gaming league and scientific journal club programme.
With this dynamic group of professionals, we are training to think out-of-the-box as we approach the very common, ignored problems that have made healthcare a spider’s web. Growing into healthcare entrepreneurs and social scientists armed with tools other than medical knowledge, we are challenging the conventional healthcare practices to identify and address a whole new array of challenges.
When we talk about innovation in healthcare, the focus is misdirected towards innovative technology alone. What is forgotten, however, is the fact, that innovative healthcare entrepreneurship revolves around the whole experience – for the patients and the HCPs – of raising the standard of holistic care, compassion, and empathy that is provided to these patients. Prioritizing this holistic experience as we innovate with technology to replace the outdated systems with the more optimal ones is what should be the guiding principle for all such ventures. Honoring that ideology, CCIT employs the “ignite principles” as a major tool for knowledge presentation and dissemination to achieve the following objectives:
1. Provide a platform for students, health professionals, and others to explore and express critical, creative, and innovative approaches relevant to health, disease, and society (social good) in general.
2. Promote patient-centered, empathetic, and compassionate care as a clinically creative and innovative approach.
3. Demonstrate principles of change leadership through relevant team dynamics.
A few of the projects that CCIT has launched include:
1. Rinder – a mobile application matching students, faculty, and industrial experts doing research in their specific area of interest based on a unique algorithm that optimizes matches based on specific data points.
2. BitMed – maximizes clinical teaching efficiency by splitting clinical teaching curriculum into “bits” to ensure minimal repetition of the teaching content.
3. ResQvent – an automated, reliable, and long-lasting attachment to fit onto a standard AMBU bag to automate compression and air supply. The device is cost effective and can last long enough to act as a potential temporary ventilator replacement, thereby, can potentially save lives that are lost due to lack of efficient resources and manpower.
4. PFIN – The Pain Free Invisible Needle (PFIN) is a cheap, yet, effective way to curb trypanophobia. This innovation consists of a carboard, worn as a sleeve with holographic stickers to divert the child’s attention, and hide the needle. Meanwhile, a local anaesthetic sprayed on the site of injection numbs the surface to keep the patient ‘pain-free’. PFIN has undergone laboratory dummy arm trials, and is currently in the clinical trials phase of its process.
5. Algos – supports remote vital monitoring for high-risk patients centrally in in-patient settings using a single data format to allow for seamless data sorting and visualization.
6. Maseeha Health – is developing a tool for patients to remain connected with care providers.
7. Multilingual Health – developing a 2-way verbal communication application that will have in-built protocols such as pain assessment and diabetes explained in multiple regional languages.
8. Surgucator – a platform seeking to connect patients and their attendants with adequate knowledge about impending and advised procedures through digital content. Surgucators will simplify and fully explain the process, benefits, potential risks, and recovery for the different patient types undergoing surgery.
9. Surgit – a community collaboration tool designed to provide awareness, access and opportunity to patients requiring surgical intervention.
In the words of David Lehr, chief information officer, Anne Arundel Medical Center (Annapolis, Md.), “Real innovation is about recognizing when the environment has changed to the point where the old algorithms are no longer optimal”. And here is exactly where we step in to modify this algorithm -providing an empowering platform for health-centered ideation, pre-ideation, and early-stage incubation.
If you have a great healthcare idea, then I invite you to reach out to us at email@example.com!
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