Startups

Main Line Health is investing in nurse-founded patient care inventions via a new business arm

Lankenau Ventures will license inventions that focus on solving problems in the operating room, the patient's hospital room and other healthcare situations.

Main Line Health, a system of six hospitals in Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs, is partnering with Philadelphia-based L2C Partners and Baltimore-based Early Charm Ventures to bring inventions created by its nursing staff to commercialization.

Main Line’s research arm, the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR), is a nonprofit, biomedical research institute in Wynnewood. Its new business arm, called Lankenau Ventures, will license inventions from LIMR that focus on solving problems in the operating room, the patient’s hospital room and other healthcare situations.

In its launch period, Lankenau Ventures will focus on four categories of clinical products for the healthcare market: hospital room and facility safety devices, software that provides add-on components to electronic medical records, clinical tests and clinical devices.

“Lankenau Ventures was formed to accelerate development and commercialization of medical inventions conceived by Main Line Health’s frontline healthcare workers,” LIMR said in a statement. “Each partner has invested in the joint venture and will derive revenue from licensing these inventions and spinning off companies.”

Barbara Wadsworth. (Courtesy photo)

Leaders of these groups spoke with Main Line Health COO and Chief Nursing Officer Barbara Wadsworth. Wadsworth, who has 35 years of nursing experience under her belt, long ruminated on the issues surrounding patient falls. When someone 65 or over suffers from a serious fall, she told Techncial.ly, their mortality rate increases dramatically — up to 50% over the next year.

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“They asked me if we could have something that would prevent them from getting hurt, and I had some ideas,” Wadsworth said. “And they said, ‘Barbara, that’s an invention.’ I’d never thought of myself as an inventor.”

These falls often happen in the bathroom, when a patient obviously wants privacy, she said. But that often leaves a caretaker on the other side of the door, trying to verbally help the patient up. Instead, Wadsworth has worked with engineers on a device that deploys a portable airbag or cushion that inflates when its sensor detects a patient falling. The compact device could be mounted or stabilized in the bathroom or other high-risk areas, like the bedside, for falls.

“The patient will still fall,” Wadsworth explained. “But they’ll fall in a way that they’re not getting severely hurt.”

L2C Partners founder Merle Gilmore encouraged Wadsworth to extend the message about inventions for patient care, and they presented at Main Line Health’s annual research day for nurses, asking those in attendance to get the word about inventions to the system’s bedside nurses. This effort began a few years ago, Wadsworth said, before the pandemic.

And now, Lankenau Ventures is working on developing at least half a dozen nurse-led devices and software solutions focusing on patient care and experience. One of those inventions include nurse Colleen Rogers‘ support device that can be used to cradle a patient’s limb while they’re changing, rather than requiring a second staff member there for help when the patient is too weak.

Michelle Gray, a former nurse who is now an informatics specialist, invented a work-saving device of shared electronic medical charts. The device allows nurses to enter information once in cases of a mother and newborn baby, rather than typing out all the data twice.

Main Line Health and Lankenau Ventures are overseeing the patent process for the inventions, and will continue seeking solutions in the patient care and clinical trial spaces.

“I was not at all surprised our nurses have great ideas,” Wadsworth said of the initiative. “They take action, but they usually don’t take credit.”

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