A piece of news
After eight weeks of observation at Hospital Clinic, Hospital Sant Joan de Déu and Institut Guttmann, they are now beginning to develop a disruptive technology to cover an unmet medical need
The fellows in the d·HEALTH Barcelona master, the main entrepreneurship accelerator program of Biocat, have successfully completed the second phase of the program. This consists in an eight-week clinical immersion at three leading hospitals in Barcelona, Hospital Clinic, Hospital Sant Joan de Déu and Institut Guttmann, to identify unmet medical needs and develop innovative technological solutions.
The three teams have detected a total of 880 unmet medical needs during their observations in various areas of the hospitals. Now they will choose one and come up with a solution to the problem.
During the d·HEALTH Barcelona master, multidisciplinary teams of fellows with degrees in the life sciences, business and design experience a whole innovation cycle. They go through five phases, from identifying unmet medical needs in hospitals to designing and prototyping viable solutions, and even searching for funding to create their own start-up.
The phase the fellows have just completed allowed them to be in direct contact with professionals and patients to understand their needs and find a niche where they can innovate. The team at Hospital Clinic did their immersion in ophthalmology; the team at Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, in cardiology; and the team at Institut Guttmann visited medical specialties throughout the center, from physical therapy and nursing to medicine, in order to seek out ways to innovate in rehabilitation.
Over these eight weeks, Vanessa Gurie (South Africa), Francisca Marzullo (Chile), Bas Kuilboer (Netherlands) and Eduard Soler (Barcelona) –the fellows that make up the O4rward team and did their clinical immersion at Hospital Clinic– observed and spoke with doctors, professionals and patients. “They gave us the chance to question everything and with what we’ve learned, now we can assess how to improve certain things. There is always an open door for innovation, whether you’re an entrepreneur or work at a large corporation,” says Bas Kuilboer.
According to Vanessa Gurie, the team of doctors gave them their full support. “Before coming, we thought we’d find a strictly hierarchal organization but it’s not like that. They worked with us because they appreciate us questioning some of the things they do by inertia. They see that we can be part of improving their specialization and adding value,” believes Gurie.
The team told Biocat that they learned a lot in the field of ophthalmology very quickly, as none of them had worked in this area before. Furthermore, being an international team is helping them look at the market globally. “As each of us is familiar with different healthcare systems, we’re looking at ophthalmology on a global level and going well beyond the Spanish market. Our mentor has given us positive feedback on this approach and for me, being Catalan, it is very interesting,” says Eduard Soler.
“Cardiology is one of the areas of medicine that uses technology and innovates the most. This has motivated us but it is also a bit scary because it will be a challenge to find our place in the market.” The team at Hospital Sant Joan de Déu (dHeart) is made up of four Catalan fellows: Maria Fernández, Mireia Aleu, Marc Rafat and Eduard Guerrero.
Although their profiles, interests, personalities and personal situations are very different, they say they all share the same goal: innovation not to make money but to improve patients’ quality of life. “Cardiology is one of the areas with the highest mortality, so if we come up with new technology in this specialization, it will have a huge impact and be useful, which is what we want,” says Marc Rafat.
The team told Biocat that they are very comfortable at this hospital and with the values there. “One of the lessons I’ll take with me from this hospital immersion is that there is a lot of interprofessionalism. In cardiology, for example, doctors and engineers are always working together and communicate a lot,” says Guerrero. And Mireia Aleu adds: “This aspect has led me to believe that, despite being a designer, I can find a way to be useful in the healthcare sector.”
The team at Institut Guttmann, made up of Nico Facuri (Brazil), Enrique Hernández (Soria) and Sara Hernández (Valencia), have observed various areas of the hospital, including physical therapy, nursing, occupational therapy, psychology and medicine. This has given them a good understanding of how the hospital works and the needs of professionals and patients there.
“We’ve come to understand that we’re designing for them, not for ourselves. We think a lot about who will use the technology we’re developing and have reached the conclusion that it has to be very convincing and intuitive or it won’t get traction,” explains Nico Facuri.
“What I’ve gotten out of the clinical immersion is an in situ look at who what we’re inventing will affect and how,” explains Sara Hernández. “I used to work in research and it was hard to see what the end results would be and who they would benefit. In this program, the biggest motivation is that we can help people directly and doing so depends mainly on us,” she says.