Clinicians reimagine healthcare in new innovation program

What would improve the experience of waiting at an Emergency Department? Is there a way to destigmatize bowel cancer testing? Can medicine be digital? These questions, and more, are being answered in a first-of-its-kind initiative, run by Swinburne’s Medical Technology Victoria Hub (MedTechVic).

The eight-week Clinical Innovation Fellows Program sees a hand-picked group of clinicians from diverse backgrounds – from physiotherapists to gastroenterologists – use design thinking principles to create a tech-enabled solution to a real-life problem in their field of practice.

In partnership with St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne (SVHM) and Monash Health, the participants have developed comprehensive proposals to help improve lives.

MedTechVic Co-Director Professor Sally McArthur said the program was a perfect example of how MedTechVic was helping translate the insights of those in the sector into innovation.

“The Clinical Innovation Fellows Program is designed to fill a critical gap between clinical experience and industry development,” said Professor Sally McArthur.

“The program isn’t just about upskilling. It’s about right-skilling.”

Innovative new solutions

Associate Professor Suong Le, consultant gastroenterologist at Monash Health, explored how to bring the innovative technology of digital medicine to Australia.

90 per cent of deaths in Australia are due to chronic disease. But despite the government spending $1 billion on this issue every year, only 25% of patients receive optimal management.

To help address this issue, Associate Professor Le developed a digital medicine collider to transform the design and delivery of technology-enabled medical interventions for chronic disease. The collider is designed to bring people together from across the healthcare ecosystem to co-create effective, proven and human-centred digital medicine solutions.

“We are harnessing the talent from within the healthcare workforce, allowing clinicians to convert their clinical insights at the coal face into digital medicines, which solve a real-world problem,” said Associate Professor Le.

Another participant, Dr Hamed Akhlaghi from SVHM, used his experience in the emergency department to develop an information system that would reduce anxiety in waiting patients. Associate Professor John Ding, also from SVHM, looked at how to save lives by creating user-centred testing kits to destigmatize the bowel cancer testing process. All are now working towards next steps to apply their insights.

New innovations to emerge

The program was designed to take clinicians through the innovation lifecycle, providing them with the skills required to be mentors and advisors within product and process development in industry. Working with industry experts, they explore the best ways to give a clinical perspective and have developed new connections across design, business, manufacturing and engineering.

The graduates have now formed a network of professionals that industry can draw on to craft meaningful, user-centred solutions. This allows them to move beyond solving a single issue to identifying challenges and solutions across the sector.

Demand for the program has already seen an increase in the size of the second cohort. The second group commenced in April with an equally diverse group of clinicians, including a pharmacist, podiatrist and plastic surgeon.

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