Across the world, patients and health care providers are enjoying technological advances that are transforming health care. However, before these items make it to the marketplace, they have to be developed and tested. Duke University School of Nursing (DUSON) is home to a place for this – the new Duke Health Innovation Lab, an interdisciplinary center for developing and testing pioneering innovations in technology and patient care delivery.
Ryan Shaw, PhD, RN, assistant professor for DUSON and director of the Duke Health Innovation Lab, said the lab is provides an entrepreneur environment for faculty, staff and students not just at DUSON but across Duke as well. “This lab is a growing partnership between multiple Duke University disciplines, such as nursing, engineering, medicine, business and computer science,” he said, “and it connects the education, scientific and clinical missions of the School.”
The idea for the lab came from a need Shaw had when he started out as a new faculty member three years ago. “My research interests are on the use of novel technologies to help clinicians manage and patients self-manage multiple chronic illnesses,” he said. “However, I needed to test new health care technology in a safe place before going into a real clinical environment.”
Shaw used the Center for Nursing Discovery (CND), directed by Margie Molloy, DNP, RN, and its state-of-the-art simulation labs for testing his projects in the beginning. The partnership worked really well and sparked an interest from multiple disciplines across Duke. The need for infrastructure to support that demand led to the development of the Duke Health Innovation Lab, a new business model, since the CND is geared more toward nursing education. The infrastructure of the new lab enables non-Duke affiliated partners to work with Duke faculty, staff and students on technological advances.
“Having the Duke Health Innovation Lab is important because it provides a physical place for individuals from multiple disciplines to come together to share their ideas,” said Shaw. “It’s great to have ideas where we can communicate via email or phone; however, when there’s a physical space where we not only meet but also test the real product, it provides a real transformative environment.”
When one enters the Duke Health Innovation Lab they can expect to be surrounded by technologies that were created to improve health outcomes and care delivery. They include novel sensors that collect health data, a telepresence robot that tests new models of care delivery, and the Microsoft Hololens that puts holograms in your immediate environment for nursing education endeavors.
Another example is the Tele-Robotic Intelligent Nursing Assistant (TRINA), an interdisciplinary project developed to serve as an alternative to human contact to reduce risks for health care providers as they care for patients with infectious diseases. TRINA, developed by Kris Hauser, PhD, is a first-generation robot developed through a collaboration with DUSON and Duke's Pratt School of Engineering.
“While the School of Engineering is responsible for building the robot, the lab allows us to bring the robot over to our campus to test out its function in providing patient care and generate and analyze data,” said Shaw. “This collaboration allows nursing students to work with engineering students in providing insight on building future versions.”
Shaw hopes that having this infrastructure will create an opportunity for new partnerships in the future across Duke University and with local startup businesses and industry experts.