Frankel CVC Innovation Challenge kicks off Jan. 11

January 7, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources

The Frankel Cardiovascular Center kicks off its fifth annual Innovation Challenge on Jan. 11.

The FCVC Innovation Challenge is a pitch competition where teams vie for a grand prize of up to $100,000 to test and implement innovative ideas impacting cardiovascular care. Faculty, staff, trainees, patients and family members are all invited to submit ideas for the competition.

“The FCVC Innovation Challenge empowers our community to solve problems innovatively, in ways that might not be funded by traditional mechanisms,” said Chandu Vemuri, M.D., FACS, assistant professor of vascular surgery and chair of the FCVC Innovation Program.

Michigan Medicine teams and individuals can submit their ideas in the form of a 3-minute pitch video. Patients and family members with ideas for projects that could be implemented by Michigan Medicine faculty and staff can submit those ideas with video or written entries. Entries will be accepted through Feb. 18.

The FCVC Innovation Program team will then work with FCVC directors to review the entries and select finalists to pitch their ideas at the FCVC Innovation Challenge virtual event on May 20, where a panel of expert judges will pick a winner.

“The last year has brought many opportunities for innovation, with transitions in the way we interact and deliver care,” said Hamid Ghanbari, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine and vice chair of the FCVC Innovation Program. “We are excited to learn about ideas from our faculty, staff, trainees and patients.”

Teams that were funded by the FCVC Innovation Challenge in the last four years were asked about the impact of their projects:

  • Instituting a standardized mobility aid for the CVICU: The CVICU team was able to purchase 20 mobility aids to assist with ambulating complex ICU patients in an easier fashion. Mobility aids included two IV poles, a Wheeled Walker, a tabletop for monitor, an oxygen tank holder, and places to hang CT and other drains. Early mobilization improves outcomes such as length of stay, ICU length of stay, reduced delirium, ability to discharge home and reduced deconditioning. This project was led by Regi Freeman, M.S.N., R.N., ACNS-BC, CVICU clinical nurse specialist.
  • WHEELS for DASH: The team used the Innovation Challenge funds to collaborate with the U-M Center for Health Communication Research to build, test and evaluate the prototype and final version of the WHEELS (Women’s and Men’s Hypertension and Emerging Lifestyles Intervention) for DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) mobile app. Designed to promote NIH’s DASH Eating Plan, this app is the only eHealth technological solution meeting state-of-science app criteria for reliability, validity, usefulness and end user satisfaction. The WHEELS team is currently drafting a manuscript for publication to describe feasibility procedures and testing and evaluation results for the app. The team plans to apply for major research support focused on using the WHEELS app for patients with heart failure. This app can help cardiovascular health care providers recommend the DASH Eating Plan at the point of care, and connect to hypertension treatment guidelines. The faculty lead for this project is Scott Hummel, M.D., M.S., associate professor of internal medicine – cardiology.
  • Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Certification: The Center for Circulatory Support VAD Program was able to partner with international leaders in VAD care to allow for the creation of a professional certification exam (currently in development) regarding the care of the VAD patient population. The VAD certification will provide an opportunity for VAD clinicians to further their professionalism. Increasing clinician knowledge will benefit patients through the increased level of care they receive as a result. This project is led by Stacy Haverstick, M.H.A., R.N., VAD program manager.
  • Healthy STRIDE: The Healthy STRIDE program was able to fill gaps in care delivery by hiring an exercise physiologist dedicated to the general cardiology heart failure patient population. This new member of the care team created a partnership between physical therapy and nursing to provide as many opportunities as possible for patients to practice physical activity. The exercise physiologist engaged patients in physical activity, using peddlers or walking, and taught patients about the importance of activity to their health and quality of life. Patients worked with the exercise physiologist to devise an activity plan for home and, after discharge, the exercise physiologist followed up with patients on their activity plan in weekly phone visits. The Healthy STRIDE program made Cardiac Rehab a focused goal by ensuring referrals were placed and helped patients maintain their physical activity while waiting the 6-week insurance delay for cardiac rehab, keeping them at home with their families and out of the hospital. Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and Michigan Medicine’s Economic Recovery Plan, the Healthy STRIDE program formally ended on June 30, 2020. As the institution continues to recover from this financial setback, the team will seek opportunities to hire an exercise physiologist to restart the program. This project was championed by Adam Stein, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine – cardiology, with partnership between Clinical Design & Innovation, the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, and Physical Therapy.
  • Routine grip strength measurement for frailty screening: The innovation challenge funds enabled the team to implement grip strength measurement for frailty assessment in the CVC clinics, integrate the data into the electronic medical record, and begin applying this information to treatment selection as well as conversations with patients and their families. Beyond funding, the innovation challenge award catalyzed collaborative interaction between clinical and research staff, who enthusiastically embraced the training and analytic support needed to succeed. This ongoing project has evaluated more than 4,000 patients. Next steps will include broader implementation beyond the CVC, evaluating correlations with socioeconomic status and intraoperative physiology, and using strength to characterize healthy aging. This project is led by associate professor of surgery – vascular surgery Matthew Corriere, M.D., M.S.

For additional details about 2021 FCVC Innovation Challenge, including how to submit an idea, visit the FCVC Innovation Program page. Questions can be emailed to