MaineHealth Innovation Celebrates Two Years

close-up of an eye through a camera's view screen

The EyeArt AI Screening System at Western Maine Primary Care in Norway uses a retinal camera that connects with a cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to analyze retinal images within seconds after image acquisition.

MaineHealth innovators told their stories of curiosity, risk taking and collaboration during MaineHealth Innovation’s virtual celebration,  The Spark in June 2022, marking two years of MaineHealth’s dedicated support to those creating novel solutions to unmet care needs.

Brian Nolan, MD, and his team at Western Maine Health felt the spark when they learned about artificial intelligence that would allow care team members to screen patients for diabetic retinopathy during primary care visits.

The spark that led to Maine Medical Center (MMC) Neuroscience Patient Navigator Sara Cox, CNRN, to reimagine the hospital gown was a patient whose discharge was delayed because he kept pulling at his lines.

The spark struck Samir Haydar, DO, and Tania Strout, PhD, RN, MS, of MMC’s Emergency Department  when they were having breakfast before a conference and learned about an app that would let them know of their place in line. They thought, “Why can’t we do this in the Emergency Department?”

From its inception, MaineHealth Innovation has been devoted to helping care team members consider new approaches to care and providing the infrastructure to act on them. Between March 2020 and August 2022, the team helped creative thinkers throughout the health system file 14 patents. Its Bonfire and Ignite Funds invested $397,000 in novel ideas that are making a difference in the lives of patients, and it is offering an Interprofessional Innovation in Education Fund for the first time in 2022. The Innovation team also has helped innovators secure $2,509,496 in external funding to take products, services and care models to the next level.

Its Innovation Cohort, Innovation Elective with the Tufts University School of Medicine and Innovation Blender, a joint project with The Roux Institute at Northeastern University, provide educational opportunities.

Each of the panelists participating in the The Spark celebration’s roundtable conversations partly credited their success to grit and refusing to take “no” for an answer. They also said they wouldn’t have been able to move their ideas forward without MaineHealth Innovation connections to internal collaborators and external resources such as the University of Southern Maine, the University of Maine – Orono and The Roux Institute at Northeastern University. These connections helped with everything from creating device prototypes to providing business advice.

MaineHealth Innovation will build on these successful collaborations in 2023, encouraging care team members to find their spark, seek support and education to elevate their novel ideas and transform the way our health system provides care in service of the MaineHealth vision of working together so our communities are the healthiest in America.