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Northwell Commits $1.3M to Fund Innovative Employee Ideas

NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Northwell Health has awarded $1.3 million toward the research and development of four employee-driven projects that have the potential to transform the future of health care. After a one-year hiatus, the health system renewed its annual ideas showcase – known as the 2021 Innovation Challenge – and came away with two potentially transformative projects: a 3D imaging device to identify tissue pressure injuries early and a spleen stimulator to treat bleeding.

Northwell tapped into the marketplace of ideas by giving employees an opportunity to receive funding through the internal competition. Now in its fifth year, the 2021 Innovation Challenge drew 74 submissions in two categories, which were winnowed down to seven finalists. Two winners along with two runners up were announced on May 3.

“Innovation and creativity are the essence of good organizations who strive to excel and move forward,” said Michael Dowling, Northwell Health president and CEO. “We have a lot of innovation in the health system and these submissions are representative of what we’ve seen over the years at Northwell Health. We started this Innovation Challenge five years ago and since then we have funded nine projects. At this moment, each one is on its way to commercialization.”

The care delivery category winner, “Use of Infrared Thermography (IRT) for Early Detection of Tissue Pressure Injury,” is developing a 3D device to facilitate early detection of various ulcers at Staten Island University Hospital. Alina Segal, a specialist physical therapist, and Anne Marie McDonough, senior director of Rehabilitation Medicine.

“This device will introduce a 3D capability to assist nurses and other clinicians in detecting, assessing and monitoring tissue pressure injuries,” said Ms. Segal. “It will also be a valuable tool for managing surgical wounds, diabetic foot ulcers and amputations, among many other uses.”

The science category winner, “Treating Bleeding and Bleeding Disorders via High Intensity Focused Ultrasound Stimulation of the Spleen,” is a project in collaboration with General Electric using a high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) stimulation of the spleen to treat bleeding and bleeding disorders. Jared M. Huston, MD, vice chair for education and system chief for the Division of Surgical Education, is a lead researcher in the development of the device that can be worn on a belt and remotely stimulate clotting in the case of trauma, surgery, or other invasive procedures where blood loss could prove deadly.

“Currently, bleeding complications result in substantial morbidity and mortality across nearly every field of medicine and surgery,” said Dr. Huston, an associate professor at the Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine, part of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. “We are excited to move this potentially life-saving innovation forward with the goal of improving care for millions of patients.”

The runners up examine an artificial intelligence-driven algorithm that limits the need to wake hospitalized patients unnecessarily and a therapeutic drug candidate externally validated by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease as a potential treatment for HPV infection.

The winning teams were selected by the following panel of judges: Melynda Barnes, MD, chief medical officer at Ro; Arianna Huffington, CEO of Thrive Global and co-founder of HuffPost; Thomas Manning, executive chairman for the Northwell/Aegis Ventures AI Joint Venture; and Lonny Reisman, MD, founder and CEO of HealthReveal. The winners each earned $500,000 awards to bring their concepts to market. Two additional teams received $150,000 and will work with internal resources at Northwell to advance their ideas.

“Northwell has been able to tap into the ingenuity of our internal team members to identify solutions which can transform care and care delivery, and leverage expertise across the system to conduct proof of concept related to these innovations,” said Richard Mulry, interim president and CEO of Northwell Holdings, Northwell’s for-profit arm. Northwell Holdings, which encompasses Northwell Ventures, manages a portfolio of 15 early-stage companies, invested in development of three medical devices created by Northwell physicians, advances the commercial potential for internal innovation and development of commercial joint ventures.

About Northwell Health

Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 23 hospitals, 830 outpatient facilities and more than 16,600 affiliated physicians. We care for over two million people annually in the New York metro area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 76,000 employees – 18,900 nurses and 4,800 employed doctors, including members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. We're training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit and follow us @NorthwellHealth on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.


Jason Molinet

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Last Updated: 05-May-2021