Northwell Health holds $100,000 innovation contest

Hospital is looking to the public to nominate one of three initiatives: a patient identification shield, a surgery blood loss manager, or a bioprinter to produce living tissue replacement.
By Jeff Lagasse
04:27 PM
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Peter Constantino, MD, created the Patient Identification Shield as an alternative to traditional writsbands.

Northwell Health, the hospital formerly known as NorthShore-Long Island Jewish Health System, kicked off a developer contest on Tuesday to determine which of three innovations will receive $100,000 in research funding. And Northwell is leaving up to the public to pick a winner.  

Through April 18, in fact, anyone can go to www.northwell.edu/vote to learn more about each idea and vote for the one in which they think Northwell should invest.

The three innovations are being explored by Northwell Ventures, which develops and finances new spin-off companies based on ideas that originate with Northwell physicians, researchers and other employees within the organization.

The first innovation is an alternative to patient identification wristbands. Noting that they've been the only reliable method of identifying patients in a healthcare setting for over half a century, Peter Constantino, MD, executive director of Northwell's Head and Neck Surgery Service Line and chair of otolaryngology at Lenox Hill Hospital, devised an alternative: the Patient Identification Shield. It's a temporary stamp that's non-transferable and easily removable, and promises to be a more cost-effective alternative to the traditional wristbands.

The second innovation seeks to manage the risk of bleeding in surgery. Fifty million inpatient surgeries are performed each year in the United States, according to a statement from Northwell, and while technologies like anesthesia and antibiotics can manage pain and infection, managing bleeding can be more of a challenge. To that end, researchers at Northwell's Feinstein Institute for Medical Research have developed what they call a "blood loss manager," which stimulates the vagus nerve through the skin; it claims to reduce the amount of blood lost and the time a wound bleeds by 50 percent.

Feinstein Institute researchers were also behind the contest's third innovation: They modified an existing 3-D printer to create a bioprinter, a device engineered to produce living, functional tissue replacement. With the potential to replace many different parts of the human body, custom tissue replacement can be printed using a patient's own cells. Northwell researchers are already working with clinicians across the health system using 3-D bioprinting to develop alternatives to traditional medical treatments, including researching ways to create living tissue made of bone or cartilage.

Northwell President and CEO Michael Dowling said in a statement that the organization is unique in that it provides an avenue for employees' ideas to come to life.

"We identify and celebrate pioneering, out-of-the-box thinkers who are passionate about advancing medicine and changing lives — and have potential solutions to make that happen," Dowling said.

Twitter: @JELagasse