Investing in the future of healthcare

October 04, 2023 | by NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Years ago, Jessica Bussert, CEO and founder of Wave Therapeutics, was working in a small-town emergency department when a disabled veteran came in with the worst infected bed sores she had ever seen.

“The guy was septic and almost dead,” she said. “His doctor had prescribed a $4,000 wheelchair cushion to help treat his wounds, but my patient just couldn't afford it. His story broke my heart.”

Before she worked in healthcare, Bussert was a multidisciplinary engineer. She matched her engineering skills with her knowledge of healthcare to develop an affordable solution.

Wave Therapeutics, a health tech start-up, has created a therapeutic cushion that is designed to significantly reduce the risk of pressure sores. The product, now in pilot studies, has investment from NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health through mHUB, a manufacturing innovation hub that supports entrepreneurs and builds physical technology.

“Wave Therapeutics is going to have an immediate impact on the healthcare industry,” Bussert said. “Bed sores affect the lives of 3 million Americans every year, and they claim the lives of 60,000 more. That's 50 percent more deaths than from car accidents. In addition, it costs the healthcare industry almost 30 billion dollars annually.”

NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health connected with mHUB and the MedTech Accelerator, a 6-month program that fast-tracks start-ups, like Wave Therapeutics, with high potential through development, to support innovation and invest in the future of healthcare.

“With our track record and the resources and infrastructure that we have already, coupled with the talent of our clinicians, we have the potential to be that next health system that defines the next generation of care,” said Justin Brueck, System Vice President of Innovation and Research at NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health.

NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health is proud to support startups that help drive the future of healthcare through innovation and transformation. See how NS-EEH partners with health-tech incubator mHUB to select and mentor 10 teams with patient-centric solutions.

Identifying areas for innovation

The health system collected information from its workforce on things that could use a solution —problem statements — that mHUB put out to thousands of start-up companies seeking project submissions.

Applications from 150 start-ups came in, and mHUB worked with the health system to pick the top 10 best teams to put through this rigorous program. The organizations also identified department heads that were interested in potentially piloting the technology.

“We create a hyper-resourced environment,” said Bill Fienup, co-founder of mHUB and executive director of the MedTech Accelerator. “Creators get access to the tools, resources, mentorship, education, access to manufacturers and capital and the talent pool that we have here at mHUB to innovate, to do research and development projects, to accelerate growth. We try to lower the barriers to entry and eliminate those barriers.”

The goal of the partnership with mHUB and the MedTech Accelerator is for NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health to find technological solutions that can be quickly developed, tested and put in place in the health system, said Brad Bennett, System AVP, Venture Partnerships & Funding at NorthShore University HealthSystem.

In addition to Wave Therapeutics, another start-up selected by the health system offers an innovation solution to employee safety.

Ali Al Jabry, CEO and co-founder of Kwema, a personal safety technology company, said the company connected with mHUB in part because of its partnership with NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Kwema started out creating smart jewelry with hidden panic buttons. While selling their first products, Jabry said they realized people were buying them for work use.

“It could be transitioning in the early mornings or late evenings. Walking to the parking lot, doing field work,” he said. “The big A-ha moment came when I saw that they had a badge reel. So I thought, what if you made that badge reel smart? And that's kind of how Kwema came to life as the world's first smart badge reel.”

Jabry said he was always passionate about employee safety, but during his research he realized how high of a risk healthcare workers face on the job.

“We believe that every healthcare worker should not have to worry about their safety while they're caregiving and saving lives,” Jabry said. “For us, working with NorthShore has been a huge vote of confidence because, while we're already seeing impact across the country, we didn't have a strong partner as we are seeing with NorthShore. Having that support is a game changer for us.”

Kwema is working on a new version of their product that will be launched at the end of 2023.

“We're passionate about finding things that we can scale across the system and really impact our teammates and patients,” Bennett said. “The ultimate goal is to impact our patients. Hopefully they start to see these innovations and feel them at the bedside.”

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