Founded in 2017, The Ohio State University Innovation Studio is run by the OSU College of Nursing and Center for Healthcare Innovation and Wellness. In normal times, the Innovation Studio travels the country, encouraging students to create healthcare solutions, and helping them to use technology to develop their ideas into marketable new products.
How has the pandemic affected the innovation program? DailyNursespoke to Tim Raderstorf, MSN, RN, the co-founder of the Innovation Studio and Chief Innovation Officer (as well as Clinical Instructor of Practice) at the OSU School of Nursing. Dr. Raderstorf has conducted neurosurgical research on Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome, but his passion is healthcare innovation.
Before the pandemic, when he wasn’t teaching, Raderstorf traveled the country with OSU’s mobile Innovation Studio. He is also an expert on the role of innovation in nurse leadership and is now an award-winning textbook author. Evidence-Based Leadership, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship in Nursing and Healthcare, the textbook Raderstorf co-wrote with OSU School of Nursing Dean Bernadette Melnyk was an American Journal of Nursing (AJN) Book of the Year, winning first place honors in its category. (In Part Two, he discusses the book and explains why he found the judge’s comments particularly gratifying).
DailyNurse: How have things changed for the Studio during the pandemic?
Tim Raderstorf: “We used to do to makerspaces that would travel. And, you know, it acted as this hub of interaction and engagement and excitement. But when COVID hit, people didn’t want those things [the makerspaces] in their lobbies… and we didn't want 15 people hanging out in the same location. So, we shut down the traveling innovation studio, which was our original one, and [now we] just run our permanent location, which is right in central campus.”
DN: What did you do when the pandemic hit?
TR: “For the first six months of COVID, because we didn't open our doors until the students came on campus in September, we ran a virtual makerspace. So Josh Wooten, our shop manager, particularly at the beginning, used our laser cutter and CNC router to make PPE, with our College of Engineering and a variety of public-private partnerships, to get our clinicians the safety equipment they needed to be able to save our communities. We wanted to keep Josh as safe as we possibly could, so we set up a makerspace in his house. He had five 3D printers in his home, and he was printing PPE around the clock with mostly faceshield frames, so that we could hook transparencies or plastic to them. It'd be running day and night, doing work for us while we slept.”
DN: Were the students able to participate at all last year?
TR: “Well, in May , we launched a COVID [Campus Safety] challenge, encouraging everyone to submit their ideas to us virtually. And when students came back to campus, we ran a second virtual challenge asking for ideas that would impact their safety on campus. Things like how to improve mask adherence, social distancing, and the mental health of our student population. We also had pitch days in October and December.
In fact, at that December pitch day, one of the nurses on the unit [came by on her] 15-minute break to pitch her idea to us. And she was wearing PPE, and—unknown to her—it was PPE that we had printed for her.”
DN: Has the pandemic been inspiring nurses to innovate?
TR: “I feel that during the pandemic, some of the acclaim and attention and interest has prompted more nurses to raise their voices in terms of public health and policy, but also to innovate and come up with solutions for the various pain points that you've encountered during the pandemic. And I think that's going to build. I'm very bullish on that. I'm big on systems of innovation and building a structure of innovation, to have a proper culture of innovation that thrives.
I'd argue there probably still isn't much structure for nurses, physicians, pharmacists, whoever is at the frontlines to bring their ideas for [innovations] to most organizations. I do think clinicians have never been more willing and engaged in changing the system. The question is, can systems become engaged and willing and set their clinicians up for success so that they can appropriately drive the changes that need to occur? Particularly as we become cash strapped and healthcare is going through a massive transformation.
I think it there's going to be a very challenging component to the future of healthcare once the pandemic is over. We have to decide what we refuse to go back to and what we will continue to make changes on.”
DN: Who comes to the pitch days? Students? Faculty?
TR: “We've had over 1000 people pitch to us over the last three years. It's about 55 to 60% students and about 40 to 45% faculty and staff, which is a nice healthy mix, and it's trending much more towards the students. We are seeing an increase in faculty and staff, but the students are increasing at a much faster rate.”
DN: Are nurses pitching ideas?
TR: “You know, one of my least favorite terms is ‘nursing innovation’. Because there's no such thing as physician innovation, there's no such thing as dentist innovation, there's no such thing as pharmacist innovation. So why do we label ourselves other than just being innovators and really showcasing that we are indeed equals with our peers?
We knew that in order to raise the awareness of the amazing things that nurses do, and create and innovate and invent, that we need to do this alongside our peers, and, you know, almost be humble bragging, as we go along, and said, ‘hey, look, what we've created, why don't you come over here and create something great with us too’.”
DN: When you describe the Studio as “interprofessional,” can you elaborate a bit?
TR: “We encourage people to engage with other individuals who have different backgrounds and professional expertise; [in fact] we require it. If you don't have an interprofessional team, that is one of the things that disqualify you from being eligible for funding. So if two physicians come up with a great idea, we say, ‘awesome, who are you going to use this on’? And they usually say, ‘well, it'd be an operating room or height’. ‘So who preps your trays? Well, that person needs to be on your team, or you need to be getting insights from the people who are going to be interacting with this tool as well.’”
DN: Are the people who pitch to you mainly aspiring entrepreneurs looking to develop a product that they can sell?
TR: “It's probably about half and half. A lot of people are interested in developing a new business, a new tool, something along those lines. But [we] also see a lot of people interested in policy change and awareness campaigns. Our most successful commercial effort was a method for preventing addicts from injecting drugs into their system through their IVs at the hospital. We really want to be able to help these people while they're under our care and give them the resources they need to continue to be successful. So this nurse in the team wanted to find a way to stop people from being able to access the lines without us knowing about it and created a tape that would go over IV ports.
And, you know, it’s now on the market. Her idea has gone from something she drew on a napkin to a tool that is now being used worldwide to help patients.
[The entrepreneurial aspect helps spur change because] there's nothing that's free in our health system. That makes it really challenging to scale your ideas without going the commercialization route. If you can't sell it, it's really hard to have that mass impact. But really, the key goal of innovation studio is to build a culture of innovation at Ohio State. We really believe that the true impact is in getting our students, faculty, and staff together and creating an atmosphere where great things can happen.
That's a long game, you have to you have to be patient, and you have to be willing to continue to water the seeds until they're able to until they're able to sprout.”
To read Part Two of this interview, click here!
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