The Future of Medicine: Health Make-a-Thon Winners Design Transformative Solutions

December 12, 2022
Beth Hart

Written by Beth Hart

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Four teams of physician innovators won support to advance their ideas for new technology to improve patient outcomes in the future, as part of Carle Illinois College of Medicine’s (CI MED’s) Fall Health Make-a-Thon. The new patient-centered innovations were proposed by medical students and students from The Grainger College of Engineering, computer science students, community members, and health care providers.

Their technological innovations are aimed at improving patient care, monitoring, and processes both in the hospital and for outpatients. The solutions were born at Carle Illinois’ Fifth Annual Fall Health Make-a-Thon competition – a design-and-pitch competition organized by the Health Maker Lab, aimed at advancing human health and health care.

Teams of medical innovators were tasked with addressing a particular clinical problem identified by practicing clinicians at either Carle Health or the Mayo Clinic. Four proposals were selected as winners by a panel of judges known as the Dolphin Tank. The winning ideas are listed below:

<em>Hydrocephamates' design for a Bluetooth device would use micromechanical hair-like sensors to detect and monitor CSF flow in patients with shunts.</em>
Hydrocephamates' design for a Bluetooth device would use micromechanical hair-like sensors to detect and monitor CSF flow in patients with shunts.

1st Place winning $5000
Hydrocephamates (problem statement from Mayo Clinic)

The Hydrocephamates team proposes a new bluetooth device to monitor and trouble-shoot problems with the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in patients with ventricular shunts. Patients with hydrocephalus (excess fluid on the brain) need these special shunts to drain off fluid into the abdominal cavity, relieving potentially harmful pressure on the brain. Currently, the only way to check the shunt for fluid flow problems involves surgery. The team’s innovation is a new device using micromechanical hair sensors patterned off the hairs in the ear canal to continuously monitor fluid flow and help determine if/when the shunt needs to be removed or replaced.

Participants: Megan Amber Lim (CI MED), Jaya Ganapathi (Engineering), Megan Blomberg (Engineering), Hailey Waltenburg (Engineering), and Daniella Chapman (Engineering).

2nd Place winning $3000
ACTFast (problem statement from Carle Health)

This team’s new Activated Clotting Time (ACTFast) test would provide near real-time blood monitoring for patients being treated with anticoagulants during cardiac and radiologic procedures. The test passes a laser through the patient’s blood sample to create an image showing how much the blood has clotted so far. A machine-learning algorithm calculates and periodically updates the Activated Clotting Time so clinicians can adjust anticoagulant therapy in real time during these procedures to prevent massive blood loss.

Participants: Brian Wadugu (CI MED), Sharon Newton (Engineering), Divya Bendigeri (Engineering), Soundarya Sivakumar, Priya Kumar (Engineering), and Mobeen Haider (Carle resident physician).

<em>Mukul Govande brainstorms with his team YANA on a wearable device to help prevent overdose in opioid users.</em>
Mukul Govande brainstorms with his team YANA on a wearable device to help prevent overdose in opioid users.

3rd Place (tie teams each win $1000)
YANA [You Are Not Alone]  (problem statement from Carle Health)

Team YANA envisioned a new wearable device to help combat opioid overdose in new patients or opioid users at high risk for overdose. Their innovation would measure physiological data to detect the possibility of an overdose. The design incorporates a pulse oximeter, Bluetooth and kinetic charging capabilities, and impedance electrodes that would feed data into a software platform. The device would signal bystanders and allow them to intervene with NARCAN or call 911 for help in case of an overdose.

Participants: Edward Liang (CI MED), Mihir Patil (CI MED), Mukul Govande (CI MED), Shrey Patel (CI MED), Vedant Jain (CI MED), Uditha Velidandla (Engineering), and Mikal Karim (Community Member).

NexumFlow (problem statement from Mayo Clinic)

NexumFlow designed a new valve to help treat patients with hydrocephalus by continuously monitoring the outflow of cerebral spinal fluid from a ventricular shunt and automatically relay any abnormal readings to the hospital’s electronic medical record system. The new valve would be encased in titanium, so it would be compatible with common neurological imaging techniques including MRI and CT scans.

Participants: Dennison Min (CI MED), Sanskruthi Priya Guduri (CI MED), Zahra Adamji (Engineering), Christopher George (Engineering), Jaz Przybylowicz, and Walker Rickord (Engineering).

"Engagement of Carle Health residents/providers and community members provided vastly different but valuable perspective to each of the teams during the brainstorming sessions," said Irfan Ahmad, CI MED Assistant Dean for Research.

Carle Illinois College of Medicine’s Fall Make-a-Thon — held each year through its Health Maker Lab — challenges future physician innovators to work with team members from the community and other disciplines at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to develop innovative solutions to broad-based health and wellness challenges or health care needs. The Make-a-Thon supports Carle Illinois’ commitment to advance health care and democratize health care innovation.

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This story was published December 12, 2022.