Pediatric Innovation Day at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital takes creative ideas to reality

Ideas chosen get start up grants

CLEVELAND - The opening of the Global Center for Health Innovation has put new focus on medical advances.

But at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, innovation has a long tradition

"Innovation isn't new at Rainbow," said Claudia Hoyen, M.D., is the Director of Innovation at Rainbow. "We've been innovating since the doors first opened 125 years ago. From the very first infant formula developed at Rainbow to process innovations such as how we take care of patients and families in the hospital, patient centered care, comfort measures, all come out of the work Rainbow has done."

Five years ago, an innovation team was established to encourage and cultivate medical innovation. Everyone at Rainbow is encouraged to submit ideas. The first year, a handful was submitted. This year there are twenty seven. The top choice out of the ideas submitted receives a start-up grant to begin taking the idea to reality.

At University Hospital's Westlake campus, a past innovation winner is already at work.

It's a machine called "i-Strab." The technology is able to screen for eye misalignment and give doctors very specific information about the kind of surgical intervention required. It's a very big deal because eye misalignment, which affects millions of people in the U.S., is the number two cause of blindness.

Several years ago, the technology was merely an idea in the mind of the late Dr. Jeffrey Bloom. His colleague, pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Faruk Orge, saw the project through to completion. Dr. Orge said early detection of this condition has a big impact.

"Misalignment is a very common cause of blindness that is preventable. So if I have a patient, as soon as the alignment can be detected through screening, not only have we prevented blindness, but also help with brain development and better functioning." 

Another innovation to come out of this project is a tiny drainage device for glaucoma patients.

Dr. Hoyen said the annual event has drawn a wide range of ideas, including "apps to help parents taking care of sick children, to new ways of monitoring babies while in utero."

The University Hospitals project also creates a positive synergy in the community, increasing the demand for product designers and engineers and software developers.

"All of it helps to move ideas forward more quickly, bringing a variety of jobs into the equation, and benefiting the whole community," said Dr. Hoyen. 

But improved patient care is always the goal. Patients in northeast Ohio are the first to gain from these ideas, but they are also affecting better care for children around the world.

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