Summing Up the Semester

Since I’m an engineer here (and maybe you are, too), let’s do a little math to find the equation that sums up my GMI experience thus far. Don’t worry, if you are not an engineer I will not make it complicated. Here it goes in lovely infographic form:


GMI is the weighted sum of all of the above. The variables are represented as follows:

DialOasis

The implementation project I am working on with Siri to design and manufacture a portable room so patients can safely perform peritoneal dialysis at home in Costa Rica. Since my last blog, we have had a number of meetings with our partners and manufacturers at Invenio to determine the feasibility of certain design components. Finally, we have a 3.0 design and SolidWorks model. I’ve also started the clinical trial paperwork. The wheels continue to churn so next semester we can manufacture and hopefully begin the pilot study. It’s been a lot of work, especially teaching myself SolidWorks (my previous experience was all in AutoCAD) and simply trying to communicate cross-culturally with our partners. It’s difficult with the language barrier and the differences in organization processes, but I’m proud of our work so far.

Activated Project

The collaborative project between MBA and engineering students. We’re learning the innovation process by essentially acting as if we had our own startup. After many pivots in needs, we finally settled providing a service that helps identify non-urgent 911 calls so EMS does not unnecessarily dispatch ambulances. These past few weeks I’ve learned a ton about the business and financial side of companies and it’s exciting to be able to have intelligent conversations about these matters with professionals. This coming week we’ll be pitching our projects to not only our professors, but also mentors and outside community members such as other clinicians and venture capitalists (VCs).

Internship

My medical device industry experience. Exciting news here, I’m actually in Washington D.C. (and probably back by the time you read this)! I’m here to interview clinicians and KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) in the field about future R&D projects at the company. Who knew?! As an intern, I am honored to have this opportunity. All you’ve got to do is ask.

Networking & TMCx

Being in Houston across from the world’s largest medical center has its perks, one of them being the med center accelerator, TMCx. This past month I had a lot of fun networking at Demo Day where the accelerator members pitched their companies. It’s a great way to meet the executive officers of the startups, investors, students, clinicians, and others involved in the field. Internship opportunities also abound. If you’re interested in TMCx, I highly suggest checking it out here. You can also find previous Demo Day pitches on YouTube.

Needs Finding

Shadowing clinicians, EMTs, and others in the medical field to observe and determine where needs (and possible solutions) exist. After completing a number of observations and online searches (see previous blog post), I came up with a list of over 100 needs which I have since screened based on market size, feasibility, value, and interest. The screening process was somewhat of a challenge, but it opened my eyes to the importance of so many factors on the success of a new device. For example, if the need isn’t well scoped and if it doesn’t add enough value, no matter how innovative the solution, it may not take off.

Social Life

I haven’t talked too much about this throughout my blog posts yet, but I will echo what others have said: work/life balance is imperative to maintain sanity, remain productive, and get the most out of the program. Luckily, our mentor, Dr. Richardson, recognizes this and serves as a great example to his mentees.  While we work extremely hard, our cohort is collaborative and does a great job remaining upbeat and positive.

So how do I take a break from work? Here are a couple of examples:

Fun Activity #1. As you may have read about from my colleagues, we had a Thanksgiving pie contest. There are a number of GMI-ers who are really good at cooking and baking so I knew it would be a close race, but I actually won a three-way tie for best overall with my chicken pot pie!

Fun Activity #2. Wanting a little taste of Germany, I travelled to New Braunfels on the 10th for their Wurstfest. I had been looking forward to this for weeks as it would give me the opportunity to dress up in my dirndl (pic below). I didn’t dress up for Halloween, but I did for this. That’s the level of excitement I’m speaking of. The fusion of Texan and German cultures was hilarious and somehow perfected the experience.

 

With this semester down in the books, I’m ready to see what the next one holds.

Posted in Abby, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fall Semester Wrap-Up

Time flies when you’re having fun”

A very wise person

December is upon us, and boy did it come fast.  I remember around this time last year, there was a period in which time could not have gone any slower. I was in the middle of my finals and had started applying to a couple different programs. I had not previously heard of the GMI program (as it was relatively new at the time), but out of circumstance, my undergraduate adviser had informed me of the program and it piqued my interest. So there I was, applying to the program, hoping that I would be given the opportunity to engage in so many of the cool projects that I had seen the previous cohort working on.

Now, here I am writing a blog about my past semester’s experience at Rice and in the GMI program. Time is moving much faster now it seems, but I can say wholeheartedly that this semester has taught me so much about what it means to be a better team member, student, communicator and leader.

Barretos Project Update

In the upcoming week, we will be presenting the progress we have made on our implementation projects. One of the more challenging aspects of my project is that there was a level of redesign that was required from our feedback received in Barretos. While this may have pushed back our initial timeline, I believe that once I have tested the materials that I have ordered, an optimal design can be finalized by mid to late-January. Once we have finalized and agreed upon a design, our goal is to have 40 functional prototypes by our next trip to Barretos in the Spring.

Needs Finding 

In the previous week, our needs finding assignment was due. Part of the reason that many of us were doing observations at places such as Texas Heart Institute, Texas Children’s Hospital and the Harris County EMS was to feed into potential design projects going into the next semester. In my list of 100, I had a variety of sources, whether it be from observations, literature searches, firsthand experience or just from conversing with everyday people. To filter to my top 5 needs, I had to use criteria that could differentiate between projects that were feasible within GMI’s scope while also providing high value to the end-user. The five criteria I used were the following:

  1. Cost – is the project feasible for our budget?
  2. Knowledge – does our team possess the skill-sets required to conduct the project?
  3. Available Resources – could we leverage our existing contacts versus establishing completely new ones?
  4. Time to Implement– is the project able to be implemented within a 1-2 year timeframe?
  5. Potential Addressable Market– is there a significant population that would benefit from this project?

After running my needs through this decision matrix, I was able to filter 5 needs that I felt best represented value to GMI as a design project. Our cohort will filter through everyone’s top 3 needs (total of 30 needs) and pick the ones about which we feel most passionate.

Wrapping up the Semester

Apart from finalizing what projects we would like to work on for next semester, we also have a couple presentations to recap the work we did in our design and implementation courses. In our medical design innovation class, it will be a great opportunity to practice a professional pitch as if our group was an actual start-up company. It’s a little strange to be doing a pitch on an idea that was only developed a few weeks back, but nonetheless, it has given me great insight on how the process works and for me personally, that has been very valuable. To see the many different hats you get to wear within a start-up is very intriguing, being an engineer, we often avoid looking at the financial side of a company, but being able to see things such as term-sheets and how potential investors screen companies is very useful. Thinking in this way can prepare me in ensuring that my product would penetrate the market, which is often one of the biggest reasons why some great ideas  fall flat when implemented into the market.

Happy Holidays from GMI

I’m not sure what life away from other GMIers for an extended period of time will feel like. Since the start of June, I believe a week or so was the longest period of time that we had apart from each other. One of the more surprising experiences from GMI this semester has been the team dynamic. Most teams I have been on have had their fair share of drama, tension and dysfunction at some point, but we’ve managed to do a great job of getting along and ensuring that we are utilizing our strengths.

Of course, before we  go back to our respective homes, we needed to have an obligatory Christmas party to celebrate the semester that we had! It was nice to reflect on the semester with awesome people (and of course, there was no shortage of great food as customary with GMI). We did a nice little gift exchange and even had some reenactments of our synchronized swimming routines from our Costa Rican summer (not going to go into too much detail there). It’s been a great semester, and I can’t wait to start it all back up in spring. Happy holidays!

Ryan photobombing a perfectly good shot

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Fall Reflections

I’m amazed that this semester is almost over; it’s flown by! While the days may have ended, they have left their mark on me forever. During the past four months, I have improved my project and time management skills, learned important lessons about teamwork from my MBA friends, discovered the barriers and rewards of international work, grown in my communication skills, and come to appreciate work-life balance.

Working on Consultika this semester has challenged me to manage my time instead of it managing me. I had to schedule time blocks for working on the app as well as my other projects. I developed my own timeline for the project by prioritizing tasks and setting realistic (and sometimes not so realistic) deadlines. I negotiated extensions and took initiative to begin the next tasks when things moved forward more quickly than expected. Dr. Richardson guided me every step of the way, but allowed me to set the pace, make mistakes, and experience success. I now feel ready to tackle project management in the workplace.

This semester has challenged me to manage my time instead of it managing me.

While collaborating with my MBA colleagues on our heart biopsy project, I learned a lot about teamwork in the workplace. Previously, most of my team experiences had been in sports, not school. But I learned that both are extremely similar. First, the team shares a common goal, be it winning the game or developing a device to save lives. Second, each team member has a role based on his or her specific skillset. Just as a basketball players have specific positions based on their skills and abilities, so an engineer takes on the majority of the design and the MBA develops the accompanying business model. The team divides the workload based on each member’s expertise. Third, team members take up the slack for each other. As a defender is blocked by a pick and his teammate switches places to cover for him, similarly coworkers cover for each other when the workload is overwhelming or unexpected setbacks arise. I’ve gotten a taste of what it means to be on a high-performing team and I’m hungry for more.

A Solidworks model of our heart biopsy device.

Since Consultika is a joint venture between Rice and Costa Rica, I have also gained experience in cross-cultural work this semester. As I became familiar with my mentors in Costa Rica, I began to recognize the fine line between working together and partnering for a common purpose. For Consultika, our purpose is to improve patient care in Costa Rica by increasing the security of inter-doctor communication. While we encountered difficulties like dropped calls and scheduling challenges among other things; partnering meant that none of that mattered. We pushed through and focused on the end goal. This allowed us to share ideas more freely and ensured that everyone’s voice was heard. Each of us felt like we contributed to the project in significant ways and so have taken ownership of it and care about the outcome. This is different from simply working together, which largely means dividing up the workload and hoping everything fits together. Partnering requires interaction and constant communication.

I’m learning the art of international collaborations and how to partner instead of just working together.

In my Communications for Engineers class this semester, I learned a great deal about effective communications. The biggest thing that I learned was to state the main point first. This immediately tells the audience what they want to know and they can decide if they want to continue listening to the ensuing details. Additionally, every detail should support this main point. This may sound obvious, but subtle hints like descriptive titles (“Finding a Way to Cure Skin Cancer“ instead of “Study Objective”) can make all the difference. This applies to graphics as well; they must be easy to read and the title should lead the audience to the conclusion that the author wants to draw. I am a better communicator now than I was four months ago.

This semester, I’ve sharpened my presentation skills through practice and feedback.

On a more personal note, this semester has challenged me to maintain a work-life balance. With all of our trips and conferences, projects and presentations, classwork and exams, there was always something else to be done. Many times, I had to force myself to take a break, to go out with friends, or to watch a movie (the over-achiever in me is never satisfied to stop working). Midway through the semester, I started taking Sundays off. This was something that Dr. Richardson established for us in Costa Rica last summer and it allows me to go to church and focus on the people and God’s Presence there without worrying about my to-do list. It also forces me to get all of my work done by Saturday night. This artificial deadline has helped me several times to finish presentations and aspects of projects without dragging them out. Work-life balance will likely be something that I struggle with the rest of my life, but I am beginning to master it before it masters me.

Maintaining a work-life balance has been hard for me, but having awesome friends has made it possible.

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Perfecting the Art of GMI Juggling

Hello- I wanted to write up a quick overview of the month of November before finals week begins! In the past 30 days I’ve split my time between my Teledermatology implementation project, a heart biopsy project, compiling a list of 100 needs, and exploring different jobs and companies. Each week a different aspect on my project “to-do” list rises to the top depending on deadlines, available resources, and momentum of the specific project.

If there’s something I’ve taken away from the month of November, it’s that simply juggling a workload is not good enough. Through lots of communication, I’ve learned how to efficiently prioritize and tackle my projects in a way that maximizes my time, and other people’s time as well. At this stage in my implementation project, a lot of things are out of my hands and rely on other people within IT support at the Barretos Cancer Hospital. Many email exchanges have been made, and I’m happy to say the email notification problem in my last blog post is nearly resolved!

(A big thank you to Livia who works at the Barretos Cancer Hospital for stepping in when I couldn’t and helping me resolve my REDCap technical issues from a continent away!!)

Meanwhile, I finalized my list of 100 medical needs for a deadline in mid-November. I narrowed this list down to my top 3 needs, which span fields in cardiology, women’s health, and pediatrics. Each GMI student presented their top 3 needs. It was so fun and interesting listening to everyone’s needs, as the most viable needs will turn into spring semester projects (and future GMI students’ projects!!!!).

Another project I’m working on is shared between Callie, me, and two MBA students named Samir and Kimi. We are essentially mimicking the startup process using a real need- in our case, a modified heart biopsy catheter. Our catheter would make the biopsy extraction process more standardized and accurate. This improves pathological diagnosis, physician stress of harming the patient, and lowers costs associated with biopsy risks. Working on an interdisciplinary team has been one of my favorite things this semester. I appreciate the different ideas and perspectives, and have learned lots of new things on the business side of medical devices. Our heart biopsy project is also mentored by a cardiac fellow named Jordan, who bends over backwards to make sure we have all the medical information we need.

Am I stressed? No. But GMI sure keeps me busy! I got to choose each of my projects from many options and tailor the projects to my personal and professional interests. That’s one of my favorite things about the GMI program at Rice- they integrate your interests and goals into the classes and projects!

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Midway and Thriving

As quickly as we walked into the first day of classes, we are now hunkering down for the final push to the end of a great semester. Crazy, right?

It’s incredible to think about how far we have come since the beginning of our summer in Costa Rica. I walked in thinking I knew how to push a product to market – highlighted by the success my senior capstone team garnered during our time at the University of Rochester. Boy…was I wrong.

What does it really take to get your idea out to market? The term “business plan” is just the tip of a very large iceberg – consider the major milestones you have to hit to get seed funding, or how about how many people you need to hire to reach those milestones, or furthermore, how much it will cost to pay them and how that will affect the amount of units that need to be sold to reach a breakeven point. These numbers don’t just arise out of thin air, and neither does the learning process required to understand these points. These are just a few examples of what we covered…in just the past two weeks! Now include the clinical and regulatory requirements to get that product to market, the IP landscape that impinges on your ability to even make the product, or the manufacturing steps required to develop your product. Suddenly, the problem isn’t so black and white anymore.

I am so thankful to be a part of this GMI program. I cannot emphasize enough how helpful it has been to shed light on the areas of medical device design that get overlooked in a capstone experience. As important as it is to be creative, it is just as crucial to have a critical eye of the landscape. Any great idea can be developed, but without the proper knowledge of IP, regulatory, clinical, willingness to adopt, and so on, the world’s next best idea may be dead in the water as quickly as it began.

From my implementation project with Truvent, I learned how crucial it is to validate the need. This project has undergone three iterations prior to this year, and yet we found that it was in our interest to truly understand who our target market was going to be. This may have taken us a step back at the beginning of the year, but we realized that through careful IP and market research that our clients for our technology needed to be EMS personnel in a clinical setting. Understanding who we target is important to the redesign of BVMs – they aren’t concerned about exact numbers (“good enough” will do), but they need a way to know if they are correctly sealing around the patient in a high-stress and quick-moving environment. We thought at the beginning of the year that we just needed to improve upon the current design. Now, we know the constraints that need to be further addressed in a redesign that may veer far left of the current design, and that is okay.

3D scanning an ambu mask!

Rendered scan of the mask

From my marketing class project with Activated, I not only learned about understanding upstream needs in an emergency market, but I probably learned more about myself as a team member and the importance of team dynamics. Having worked with just engineers my entire academic career, it is easy to interact and see things from their perspectives – I think like them too! Throw in MBA students and a few physicians, and suddenly the dynamic changes. I’m not one to admit this lightly, but it has been a struggle for me. Sometimes my expectations did not align with theirs, and conflict arose. If there is one thing I have come to realize from this class, it is that I cannot be the expert in everything. I want to know everything, which is great, but I have to be willing to pass the ball in certain areas to others that have the expertise and learn from it. Always rely on the expertise of others to enhance your understanding. Our solution for improving emergency medicine may not pan out into the next disruptive technology, but I can say with confidence that we have really come a long way from the original need brought to us, and it even may spark further interest in an area of medicine that is so poorly defined and funded. I am proud of our technology, and I am proud of the team that worked through the conflict to get us to the point we are today.

Okay…to that point, I am excited to see the rest of this semester through. It has presented itself with challenges, but it has also shown growth in my professional development that I am extremely proud of. Looking forward, time management will be crucial, especially with the larger course load I will be taking next semester. Setting your own deadlines and sticking to them are so important, and finding time in between with friends is only healthy. To any of those prospective students who stuck it out to the end of this blog, let me give you some “expectation vs. reality” advice:

  • Grad school is physically demanding, but a 1-year program can especially feel more difficult at times, emotionally. I personally have an internal block towards committing to the city of Houston because I may be out in 6 months. Don’t let that stop you though – explore!
  • Seriously, take a break once in a while. There’s a lot of energy at the beginning of the year to be gung-ho about the projects, but it’s nearly impossible to maintain that energy all semester (unless you’re Dr. Richardson, bless him). Find an outlet, both with friends and personally, to rely on in times of stress.
  • When looking at programs, learn about the type of people who will be right there with you. Our GMI program consists of mostly recent graduates with interest in medical device design in underserved populations. None of us have medical training like physicians would, but we have those experts right across the street to help us. I will advocate that we at GMI have a distinct advantage with our group – GMI is not just your team, they are your family. Simple as that, but don’t underestimate how important that becomes when you reach a stressful point in the year.
  • You get as much as you put into the program. This is generic advice for anything, but especially relevant here in the medtech industry. This program brings out the self-starter in you, and it’s your passion that will drive how high the threshold of success is.

 

Happy holidays, from both of my families to yours.

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Wrapping Up the Semester

It’s that time of year again. Christmas decorations popping up in every store, the smell of cinnamon radiating indoors, lights strung on every roof and tree, and temperatures (slightly) dropping. Yes, it’s the start of the holidays. But just before I can get wrapped up in the season, it’s also the start of many big school deadlines approaching.

These past three weeks were busy with needs finding at Texas Children’s Hospital in Urology, Texas Heart Institute in Catherization Labs, and with Harris County Emergency Medical Services. I had the opportunity to watch a variety of procedures from ureteral stent removals, to PVC cardiac ablations, and rushing from call to call around the city of Houston. It was especially inspiring to hear from the physicians themselves who face a variety of issues within the field each day and on the other side of it, being able to observe their unspoken hardships. Sometimes the latter is where you find the most clever needs. Over the past three months, each of us compiled 100 needs and over the next two weeks we will individually screen the needs to narrow down to our top well-scoped one. This top need will be presented as a potential design project for us in the GMI program during the spring semester.

Behind the scenes in the control room of the Cath Lab. Here I observed a cardiac ablation guided by this mapping technology called the Carto 3 system by Biosense Webster!

A quick update on my Stent-X project- since our last animal study I have spent time reconsidering the design and manufacturing process of the nitinol facet. We have a porcine study lined up for the end of the month and a primate study after the holidays. These constant animal studies have really helped us as a team consistently improve and iterate on the implementation and redesign of the device.

Brainstorming Session

As for the coronary stent project- we’ve reached the point in our class where we are heavily focusing on the business side. I will admit, I am a bit out of my comfort zone as I have never taken any business courses. But what’s the fun of always being in your comfort zone?! I’ve learned a lot about value proposition both in the eyes of the product and customer, the money talk aka financial models, and lastly business models which outline the plan of attack for your product. It’s been great to have the MBA students at this stage because they are very familiar with all the components we need to create and assess for our solution.

And of course the highlight of this month- the annual GMI pie competition in which Dr. Richardson and his family hosted the entire GMI crew! Each of us made one pie and two of Dr. Richardson’s kids entered in their delicious pies- that’s 12 whole pies!! I made a peach blueberry pie with a rye crust. There were several winners that night and it was a tough competition as everyone’s pie was unique and flavorful!

With each of my classes having final projects and presentations, now is the time to either temporarily wrap up the project (that goes for GMI projects) or put all the final touches on (all other courses). These next two weeks will be solely dedicated to that. I’m really looking forward to being back home for winter break and to finally take a breather after what’s been a marathon of a semester.

 

Halloween + Astros World Series!

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Almost at the finish line!

It’s hard to believe that in just 3 weeks the semester will already be over! It still feels like there is so much to be done – where did the time go? This past month, the majority of my time was spent on making SolidWorks models of the DialOasis version 3.0 prototype. While making these models can be time consuming, I appreciate having the chance to refine my SolidWorks skills! It’s a useful program to know how to use, and I’m definitely learning a lot. This past week we Skyped with our collaborators at Invenio, and they brought up a few important aspects of the design that we hadn’t yet considered. In these last few weeks we’ll finalize the design and send the SolidWorks over to Invenio so they can start building! In the meantime I’ve also been working on putting together the business model for the units. To do so, I’ve been drawing on what we learned in our Healthcare I&E course. It’s nice to see the knowledge from one class transfer over so easily to another!

On November 8th, TMCx hosted an event called Demo Day. It was a great opportunity to hear what startups are working on, as well as have the chance to network with them! One company in particular stood out to me. They are working on creating a device to diagnose a stroke in the ambulance itself so that patients can be taken to the right hospital if needed. I hope to see that implemented soon enough!

Last weekend the GMI-ers got together at Dr. Richardson’s house for the third annual pie baking competition! It was so much fun to get to meet Dr. Richardson’s family, and I definitely got to have more than my fair share of pies!  I made a pear-cranberry pie, and was in a 3-way tie for best overall pie, which was nice. This definitely put me in the mood for Thanksgiving!

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Fall 3: Cutting Red Tape and Tossing Pies

Another month has come and gone since my last blog post, but it seems like only yesterday that we were getting back from Brazil.

PalliAssist, my palliative care app, has faced primarily logistic obstacles over the past month. The next step is to conduct a clinical trial showing the effectiveness of using the PalliAssist system, which unfortunately means going through a lot of red tape in gaining approval from Rice’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) to conduct the trial. Most of my work on PalliAssist over the past month has involved learning and beginning this process with the IRB and other preparatory tasks for the clinical trial.

A big focus of the last month for us has been the collection of unmet clinical needs. The goal here is to look for ways to improve the current standard of care, where we as engineers could design something to make that improvement. To look for these needs, I have been observing various procedures in hospitals and interviewing people I know that work in healthcare. By starting with needs finding, we are learning the importance of making sure the solution we may be designing is actually solving an important-enough problem. An engineer may develop a great solution to a problem, but if it’s the wrong problem, then the solution won’t be successful. Each of us will eventually have the opportunity to start a design project based on one of the needs we find, but I can talk about that in a later blog post.

One interesting trend I noticed was how many more needs I have been able to get from observations than interviews. In interviews, I ask people about the most time consuming and cost driving processes they do, and if there is anywhere else they see room for improvement. I have found that by simply observing procedures, as an outsider and someone specifically looking for needs, I am able to note many more than what the physician would have told me. There are likely several causes for this phenomenon, but what it has taught me is the value of being able to think critically about the limitations of my own work. Putting myself in the healthcare worker’s shoes, there are likely factors that affect my work that I don’t realize. Consistently challenging assumptions I have about the way I do different things, like is done in observations, may empower me to work much more effectively.

Getting into the holiday mood, Dr Richardson hosted us all at his house for a pie-baking competition, where we each entered our own pie. In preparation, I dropped my pie, causing it to deform but still remain in the pie pan. Making the best of the hand I was dealt (or the one I dealt myself), I marketed it as a “hand-tossed” buttermilk pecan pie. Unfortunately, I couldn’t recover to win the coveted best overall award. Nevertheless, it was a great night with the GMI cohort and the Richardson crew.

Getting ready to judge our pies

My “hand-tossed” buttermilk pecan pie

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Still learning..and having fun!

I’ve learned a lot since my last blog post, and I’ve had a lot of fun in the process.

I started auditing a class to learn AutoCAD, which is a really useful tool for communicating design ideas. I’ve always wanted to learn how to use CAD, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Tasha, Sanjana, and Chandler are also auditing the class, so we always seem to have a good time, even when we have no idea how to draw some of the designs. I also had the opportunity to take an Arduino FabShop at Rice to learn the basics of setting up the circuits and how to program the Arduino. I’m really glad I had this opportunity, and I hope I can continue to participate in more workshops to continue developing new skills.

My implementation project, TruVent, has been moving along, and we’re almost finished with our manuscript for publication, which will be a huge relief. We’ve also moved into the brainstorming and screening process for our second-generation prototype. Chandler and I hope to have a completed prototype by the end of the semester, which is just a short 3 weeks away (hard to believe—right?!). In order to reach that milestone, we will be doing extensive brainstorming, researching, and screening to narrow down our ideas to the ones that show the most promise. We will also begin low-fidelity prototyping to demonstrate our ideas and help us narrow them down to one that we will move forward with. Despite the short timeline, I’m excited to get to work and do some real designing, and it’ll be fun to create our designs, potentially using a 3D printer.

My other big project, which is focused on developing a device to detect retroperitoneal hemorrhage, has also continued to push forward. We’ve moved on to more of a business focus in the class now, which is definitely very interesting, but also challenging for me. I don’t know much about business models, financial models, and value propositions, so I’ve definitely had to rely on my MBA colleagues to explain a lot to me. Despite the difficulty in taking in so much new information in a short amount of time, I’m glad that we’ve had the opportunity to learn more about the business dynamics that come into play when developing a start-up company, especially since I’m interning for one right now and may work with a start-up after graduation in May.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’m interning for Multisensor Diagnostics, which is a start-up company working to develop a device to monitor patients with chronic illnesses from home. For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing interviews with clinicians that have chronic disease patients to get a feel for how they currently monitor their patients and how our device could help them. Getting clinician feedback is always helpful when designing a new device to take to market, because you want to make sure that it meets a need that they have and they will actually want to use it. Last week, I attended TMCx Demo Day, which is an event that allows the start-up companies in the TMCx program to present their pitches to investors. I really enjoyed the event, as I was able to finally meet my boss in person and learn more about the company and the device. All of the start-ups are doing really exciting work, and it made me think about working with a start-up after I graduate. I think it would be exciting to to make a huge impact in healthcare and learn so much in a short amount of time. Despite the risk that comes with working for a start-up, I think it may be a really great opportunity for me, and it would definitely push me out of my comfort zone.

At the end of October, we traveled to Austin to attend the SWE conference, which was a great opportunity to network with the big medtech companies and hear some dynamic speakers, including the VP of General Electric. I talked to people from Medtronic, Abbott, Boston Scientific, J&J, Stryker, Becton Dickinson, and Baxter, which was a really great and exhausting opportunity. I’ve also had the opportunity to continue observations and needs finding at TMC. Last week, I went to Texas Children’s Hospital and got to watch two pediatric urology surgeries, which was neat, but also a little sad. The kids are just so young—it breaks my heart.

Despite all of the work we do, we’ve also managed to have a good bit of fun these last several weeks. We watched the Astros win the world series, dressed up for Halloween (a few times), and squeezed in a few brunches. I’ve also continued to play volleyball on the weekends with some other grad students, which is always a nice homework break! Lastly, Siri and I have also still been volunteering with Houston Pets Alive, which has been a lot of fun.

We only have three weeks left to wrap up our work for the first semester. I can’t believe how quickly the time flew by. I’m definitely looking forward to some relaxation time at home, but for now, I’ll be pushing hard to finish up the semester strong.

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Surviving October

The month of October was quite the experience. Halloween wasn’t even the scariest part of the month, the amount of logistical planning that went into our trips and projects were enough to get the blood flowing.

Reflection of Barretos Trip

Our trip to Barretos, Brazil could best be summed up in three words–tiring, perspiring and inspiring. It was nearly 40 hours of travel roundtrip from Houston to Barretos. Dr. Richardson, Anna, Ryan and I were able to work alongside our project mentors and walk through the process of teledermatology and palliative care. I was expecting  a little break from the Texas heat, but Barretos had other plans. It was hot outside, but that wasn’t bothersome because we were so enamored with what Barretos vision as a hospital is. The emphasis they put on taking care of the less fortunate and preventative care is a gold standard in my opinion. They are the largest cancer hospital in Latin America for good reason. The staff at the hospital were very hospitable and organized, and that allowed us to get some great feedback for our projects.

Barretos Cancer Hospital (Barretos, Brazil)

 

Prototype vs. $1200 Counterpart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ride-Along

As a part of our observations, we were given the chance to ride on a 12-hour ambulance shift with a Harris County unit. I was able to tag along on a Friday morning shift with the M92 unit and get some really good needs from the experience. While it wasn’t an especially eventful day (which I guess is a good thing), it was a good just to experience the EMS workflow and just how much of a fast-reacting job it is. The ability to respond with a calm demeanor in high stress situations was an amazing thing to witness.

M92 Ambulance Unit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Texas Children’s Hospital

A major issue within today’s healthcare system is the lack of pediatric medical devices. While companies flock to larger adult markets, the small market size of pediatrics is often not worthwhile for companies to operate within. Sadly, this leaves physicians with only the option of using adult-purposed medical devices on children. I was able to observe and talk to Dr. Chester Koh of Texas Children’s Hospital to better understand the needs that the pediatric space may need. While most of my observations consisted of circumcisions (which is the most common pediatric procedure), I was able to get some useful insights from our discussions.

Business Pitch

For our healthcare and innovation class, our group was able to compile a business pitch for our product. Of course, our product is still very much in a conceptual stage, but it was great practice to be able to develop a business model and value proposition for our product and try to expand on what makes our solution unique and innovative. Our team did a good job on the pitch, and we received great feedback on how to improve. It will be fun to see how this project progresses. We are at a junction in which we have to solidify our business model (to make sure we are catching the important streams of revenue). From a team dynamic standpoint, I do believe that each member contributed their fair share, and it was especially interesting to see the medical device industry from a business perspective.

Our pitch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project Update

I am beginning cycle 2 of my teledermatology project. The main goals will be to develop a potential LBM for our device and also to carry out ordering and testing of sub-components. I looked at all the design feedback we received and will continue to brainstorm and CAD potential solutions to these problems.

Results from feedback session

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations

GMI has definitely been a little bit more stressful over the last few weeks, but we were able to compensate for that by watching the Astros bring home a championship. Although I’m a diehard Texas Rangers fan, the city of Houston has been through so much these last few months and there was a little voice (deep within the chasms of my brain) that was kind of rooting for them to win. Plus, it is always great to see Chandler get mad when his Dodgers lose.

They’re OK I guess

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