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Northwell commits $1M toward employee innovators

From left: Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling with team leaders Drs. Eric Cruzen and John D'Angelo, whose Real-Time Actionable Data is a reporting tool that gives bedside data about a hospital's emergency department. Far right: team member Sarah Healey Herod.
From left: Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling with Drs. Eric Cruzen and John D'Angelo and teammate Sarah Healey Herod, whose Real-Time Actionable Data is a reporting tool that gives bedside data about a hospital's emergency department.

2019 Innovation Challenge Made for Big Ideas Showcase

NEW HYDE PARK, NY —

Northwell Health has awarded $1 million toward the future research and development of two employee projects that earned top honors at the health system’s annual ideas showcase, known as the 2019 Innovation Challenge Made for Big Ideas Showcase. Delivering real-time patient information in the emergency department (ED) and investigating how to build better peptides to create more-effective drug therapies were the winnings projects.

More than 70 ideas were submitted by employees across the health system. The most-promising projects were selected by an internal interdisciplinary team and advanced to the next round, where judges evaluated five finalists in a Shark Tank-like setting. Two co-winners emerged and each was awarded $500,000.

“The issues facing health care today require radical thinking and a commitment to innovation,” said Michael J. Dowling, Northwell's president and CEO. “Northwell Health has a culture that fosters and rewards the marketplace of ideas. The best concepts often bubble up from employees. We encourage that creative energy and turn those ideas into reality.”

Decision time in the ED

The need for quicker decision-making in the most chaotic of environments is what fueled Real-Time Actionable Data (RAD), a reporting tool that gives bedside data about ED patients to the frontline staff. Four Northwell Health facilities are piloting the data-driven dashboard, with the goal of allocating clinical resources where they are needed most urgently. This digital tool builds on work several years in the making.

“Our goal is to greatly improve the speed and accuracy of care in the emergency department by bringing essential, real-time data to the staff at the frontlines where it’s needed most,” said Eric Cruzen, MD, chief medical informatics officer of the Emergency Medicine Service Line and emergency department chair at Lenox Health Greenwich Village. “The investment that Northwell makes in its employees is truly amazing. Creativity and innovation aren’t just encouraged, they are part of our corporate DNA.”  

Fifth from left: Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling with Yousef Al-Abed, PhD, vice president of molecular targets and director of The Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine, who is leading the research into peptides.
Fifth from left: Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling with Yousef Al-Abed, PhD, vice president of molecular targets and director of The Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine, who is leading the research into peptides.

Peptides to deliver therapies

The other Innovation Challenge winning-team, led by Yousef Al-Abed, PhD, vice president of molecular targets and director of The Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, is investigating how to build better peptides (small fragments of proteins) in order to create more-effective drug therapies.

Dr. Al-Abed believes that small peptides represent an attractive therapeutic approach in view of their specificity and safety profile. In research spanning nearly a decade, the Al-Abed team successfully managed to re-engineer peptides and improve them with dramatically increased stability, potentially transforming the peptide therapeutic industry, and providing easy-to-assemble building blocks for research and improved options for patients.

 “Our mission is to produce knowledge and challenge traditional approaches to cure disease,” said Dr. Al-Abed. “We are dedicated to this mission and strive to invent technologies that advance universal solutions to human health.”

“The Innovation Challenge allows Northwell to curate and advance ideas from our employees, and support the path to commercialization. This process fosters collaboration and allows us to continually build upon a culture of innovation,” said Richard Mulry, managing director and chief operating officer of Northwell Holding, Northwell’s commercialization arm. Northwell Holdings, which encompasses Northwell Ventures, manages a portfolio of 14 early-stage companies, invested in development of three medical devices created by Northwell physicians, and advances the commercial potential for 10 Innovation Challenge projects.