In a similar fashion to the TV reality show, Shark Tank, young entrepreneurs from the St. Vrain Valley School District faced off as they pitched their brightest ideas about health care of the future.
They didn’t present to Mark Cuban and his TV team but rather a sophisticated group of top brass from UCHealth, including a physician in charge of innovation, a marketing wizard, and an IT chief who knows all about using technology to transform the health care experience.
The excitement and tension in the auditorium at the Innovation Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools in Longmont was thick, palpable almost, as very bright young people competed in the inaugural Hospital Room of the Future challenge. Ideas included:
- A redesigned intensive care room designed to promote comfort and healing
- An autonomous robot system to deliver meals throughout the hospital
- A pair of glasses and app designed to help staff prioritize patient needs
- A watch to monitor cardiac arrest patients as they recover at home
The challenge was part of a partnership between the Innovation Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools and UCHealth that aims to inspire future innovators. As part of the challenge, students had an opportunity to talk with patients, doctors, nurses and other staff when they toured UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital in Longmont to see multiple areas within the hospital including patient rooms, an operating room, the emergency department and a birthing suite.
Students also visited UCHealth’s Virtual Health Center in metro Denver to learn more about how the system is applying virtual health capabilities and they also had the opportunity to run ideas by the experts at UCHealth’s Catalyst office, also in metro Denver.
At the end of the hour-long drama, Team C.U.T.E. won top innovator honors for its design of an autonomous robot delivering food to patients to free up hospital staff time and resources. The team included: Jocelyn Gunn from Niwot High School, Alex Miller and Ryan Velarde from Erie High School and Mia Novick from Longmont High School.
“This project was an opportunity to see a different side of health care that I’ve never really seen before. I’ve always been super passionate about biology and medicine, but I’ve never really considered the technical aspect that goes into behind the scenes,” Gunn said. “Seeing that aspect was sort of a challenge at first, to incorporate that into the design. It was really interesting to see those two fields coming together and what that means for the health care field.”
Velarde said the competition opened a new frontier of thought for him.
“I grew up building things and designing things,” Velarde said. “This was a real eye-opener for me on how complicated the health care profession really is. And it gave me an opportunity to design something that could be meaningful and impactful, which is awesome.”
The four groups spent a year collaborating, researching and designing their concepts.
“St. Vrain Valley students studied the challenges faced by health care today and explored ways to create new solutions by approaching a challenge using the scientific process; creativity, being innovative and fearlessly approaching a problem in a new way,” said Dr. Richard Zane, UCHealth’s chief innovation officer and professor and chair of emergency medicine at CU School of Medicine. “Through this unique partnership, UCHealth offered students – our future innovators, scientists, researchers, clinicians and patient experience leaders – a chance to learn from our experts. We encouraged outside the box thinking, and we were very impressed today with their efforts.”
Zane was one of the six UCHealth experts on the panel, which also included Manny Rodriguez, chief marketing, experience and customer officer; Amy Hassell, director of virtual health; Dr. Chris Davis, medical director of virtual health; Lonnie Cramer, president of Longs Peak Hospital; and Steve Hess, chief information officer.
“Today’s students are the leaders of tomorrow who will solve our world’s most complex challenges,” said SVVSD Superintendent Don Haddad. “Together with one of our most outstanding partners, UCHealth, we are providing rigorous learning opportunities and experiences that will empower students with a strong competitive advantage for success in today’s complex, globalized economy.”