Innovation: At the core of everything we do

December 3, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

Michigan Medicine may be best known for big life-changing discoveries, but it’s often the little things that make those major advancements possible. Without a willingness to be flexible, to encourage curiosity or to support a creative idea, the next great thing may never be discovered at all.

Through the core value of innovation, the organization strives to promote a culture that inspires new ideas and ways of thinking in the tasks all faculty and staff do every day, both big and small.

The innovations our culture creates are too numerous to name, but Headlines has highlighted just a few below.

Wish to share your innovation story? Contact Headlines@med.umich.edu.

Angie James and Ranetta Lipsey

Thinking outside the box by thinking inside the box: Lead Security Officer Angie James and Guest Services Specialist Ranetta Lipsey were working in the property room when they realized there had to be a better way to deal with wet gloves and hats left behind by patients than stuffing them in plastic bags and shelving them in a warm room to become exceedingly unpleasant by the time they were reclaimed.

Devising a better plan, they cut a hole in the side of a cardboard box, wedged in a small fan and used clips to suspend wet items from the box’s ceiling. The air circulates around all sides of the wet items, drying it quickly. If there’s a contamination concern, they just get a new box and repeat.

Remote access to risk factors could save lives: A collaborative team from pathology and internal medicine/cancer genetics developed a program, called InheRET to identify patients who may need cancer screening due to hereditary circumstances. The program collects personal and family health history remotely, interprets the data and provides recommended next steps to providers and patients.

In today’s telemedicine expansion, it not only provides physicians with important data prior to a scheduled appointment, it can also improve patient outcomes since recommendations are often offered prior to cancer onset.

Team members included: David Keren, M.D., Kara Milliron, M.S., CGC, Sofia Merajver, M.D., Ph.D., Lynn McCain, MHSA, Lee Schroeder M.D., Ph.D., Bailey Hulswit, M.S., C.G.C., Jim Arthurs and Amanda Cook, B.S.

Top row, L-R: Judy Fetterolf, Susan Klebba, Bottom L-R: Debbie Ruge, Jennifer Speller

Getting some shut eye during shut down: Conducting sleep studies is a critical step to determining treatment for patients visiting sleep disorder clinics.

So when the state’s stay-at-home order took hold, staff members from Michigan Medicine’s four sleep clinics joined forces to develop a process to mail out home sleep study units with instructions for patients so data could be gathered and analyzed and telehealth therapy could continue throughout the pandemic.

Kelsey Barrie

Streamlining the system: Kelsey Barrie, a senior animal technician with ULAM, noticed that every animal tech in her lab put in custom supply orders every day of the week.

This led to every order being different, which were often bulky and difficult to manage for the cage wash tech.

Barrie developed a new system of smaller, standard orders for every day of the week. It smoothed out the ordering process and made it more convenient for the animal techs to just grab supplies when needed.

L-R: Christine Kwierant, Nanci Lefebvre, Jianhong Liu, Jennifer Bergendahl. Not pictured: Lena Kleyman, Bryan Betz, Brandon Newell

We didn’t know it was (that) broken: All the team within the Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory wanted to do was create a bone marrow engraftment analysis tool that would meet new College of American Pathologist (CAP) requirements.

Instead, they designed and implemented a new program that significantly reduced human errors, technologist time and lab costs. 

The team estimates their new process removes 10 steps, reduces errors in eight potential steps and will save an estimated $7,000 annually without adding any additional costs.

Scanning for patient safety: In most inpatient pharmacies, medication dispensing is an entirely manual process.

At C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital, a team of pharmacists added a barcode to scan for all inpatient medications, resulting in a substantial decrease in errors.

Now the team is collaborating with HITS to expand this “Dispense Prep” project to all pharmacies at Michigan Medicine.

A special thanks to pharmacists Paul Workman, Jeffrey Hurren and pharmacy student Jenna Salter.

Tapping global expertise to keep us online: When the work-from-home mandate landed in March, Mike Marable, a HITS application programmer staff specialist, connected with IT professionals from around the world to find a solution to continually upgrade Windows 10 on computers off-site. 

With so many working from home, the original method to upgrade Windows 10 was not a viable solution over the existing VPN connection. 

Challenges included that the upgrade could no longer connect through the home office and that there was a time limit before the VPN disconnects.

The new process includes upgrading in the middle of the night when few computers are in use. Marable continues to keep remote workers up and running with the help of Microsoft systems engineers Tom McDonnell, Luis Barnett and Sam Winston-Brown from Enterprise Device Engineering and Management.

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