Susan Ascher, MD, FSCBTMR
Co-Director Abdominal Imaging
Medstar Georgetown University Hospital
Dear SCBT-MR Members, Fellows and Colleagues,
I hope this newsletter finds you in the midst of an enjoyable summer. In my last message, I mentioned that at our Board’s strategic planning meeting in May we boldy embarked on a mission to redefine the focus of the Society for Computed Body Tomography and Magnetic Resonance for the next decade and beyond. Since that message, we conducted a survey to elicit your opinions on a number of questions about SCBT-MR’s focus and what we could be doing better at our annual meeting.
We were pleased to receive completed surveys from more than half (53 percent) of you; your investment in the Society is palpable, and the Board and I believe that your invaluable feedback is helping us propel the Society into an organization better equipped to serve you, your professional aspirations and the future of body imaging as a whole.
At our upcoming October meeting, I look forward to reporting in more detail on how the Board has been using the membership survey results and how they have guided our plans for the Society’s next chapter. We will have exciting news to share with you! As you know, body imaging is a field that has continued to evolve from the early days of CT and then MRI. As a professional group, we want to maintain our leadership and expertise in CT and MR, but also more comprehensively embrace additional technologies relevant to body imaging. We want to be a premier professional society that our members and fellows go to for state-of-the-art body imaging, one where we all have opportunities to learn from each other and promote better patient outcomes.
Speaking of learning from each other, if you have not yet registered for the October 19 – 23 annual meeting, there is still time to do so on the 2019 Denver Meeting page. Hope to see you there as I reconnect with colleagues and meet new friends. As always, I welcome your thoughts about SCBT-MR and suggestions for how your experience with our society may be improved, so send me an email HERE if there is anything you think I should know.
Follow me on Twitter @SCBTMRprez
A tech innovation incubator inside the radiology department at Massachusetts General Hospital turns physicians into inventors.
Before Marc D. Succi, MD, joined Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) as a radiology resident in July of 2015, he had already secured several patents and launched two startup companies, gaining valuable experience as an inventor and CEO. His entrepreneurial background made him the go-to invention expert at MGH, quickly revealing the hospital’s need for more robust innovation resources.
“I realized a tangible need existed for innovation training, because clinicians want to be innovative, but most don’t have the tools to bring their ideas to fruition,” says Succi.
After observing the struggles of creative physicians who didn’t know how to approach innovation, Succi developed plans for an in-house prototyping lab and entrepreneurship incubator designed to transform ideas into impactful inventions. He founded The Medically Engineered Solutions in Healthcare (MESH™) Incubator at MGH — the first innovation incubator and accompanying curriculum that is known to be integrated into a medical training program, in any specialty.
Before Succi could launch the incubator, he needed support from radiology leaders. So in February of 2016, he met with MGH’s radiology residency program directors and then with Radiologist-in-Chief James A. Brink, MD, FACR, to present his vision and business plan.
To outline the opportunity, Succi described how radiologists are well-positioned to drive innovation across the hospital. For this reason, Succi proposed building the invention incubator in the radiology department, where he could provide training, resources, and equipment to help radiologists and other physicians innovate. He envisioned a workshop equipped with prototyping tools, like microprocessors and 3-D printers, coupled with a hands-on curriculum and informational lecture series to empower radiologists and other physicians with the skills to turn their ideas into reality.
Succi explained that MESH would mentor physicians through the early stages of innovation. By the end of the training, participants would be ready to leverage their prototypes and early data to seek outside funding to develop their ideas further. With this educational goal, Succi noted that MESH would be a relatively lean start-up. He requested a five-figure investment to open the incubator and outlined a long-term vision that would get inventions to bedsides in five to 10 years.
While MESH’s profitability would take time, Succi emphasized that it would bring enduring value to the hospital and the profession. “It’s about training the future leaders of medicine to impact patient care and, in the process, branding radiology as the center of innovation, which elevates our value in the healthcare landscape,” Succi says.
“The idea of enabling non-engineers to use design principles to prototype potential inventions intrigued me,” says Brink. “Certainly, as patents are commercialized, we will earn future royalty revenue but we’re not looking at ROI from that perspective. It’s more important that we provide an outlet for our residents to develop new skills, so they can create tools to improve care.”
With Brink’s backing, Succi received seed funding from the radiology department in July of 2016 to open the MESH Incubator.
Creating a Creative Space
Although hospital leaders were excited about the incubator’s potential, they weren’t sure where to house the innovation workshop. Initially, administrators offered Succi space in a building next to the hospital, but that didn’t support his vision of making innovation more accessible. In a stroke of serendipity, MGH was relocating some radiology offices just as Succi was searching for a space. The move freed up an area adjacent to the reading room, and Brink agreed when Succi suggested that it would be a good location for the incubator.
From there, Succi made a list of the tools and equipment necessary to build out the workshop — including a 3-D printer, computer-aided design software, microprocessors, electrical components, and other prototyping support tools. He also began developing the incubator curriculum.
To start, Succi surveyed radiology residents to assess their baseline understanding of innovation. He discovered that 82 percent of residents weren’t comfortable creating a device prototype, and none of them knew how to write an intellectual property (IP) disclosure.1 So, he built the program around these topics.
Nurturing Innovative Ideas
In late 2016, Succi launched the first of two incubator courses, the Core Invention Design Curriculum (CIDC). This year-long invention mentorship is open to residents, fellows, and attending radiologists, as well as other physicians who have an idea they want to develop.
During the first six months of the CIDC, participants work one-on-one with Succi and MESH leaders in a mentorship format to validate the clinical need for their ideas. To that end, they gather patient feedback and data to define how their inventions could potentially impact patient care. During the second six months, participants prototype and iterate their inventions in the workshop before drafting and submitting IP disclosures.
Teaching Innovation Basics
While the CIDC is geared toward residents and physicians who just need the right space and skills to execute their ideas, not all residents and physicians have specific ideas to engineer. Recognizing this, Succi began developing the second incubator course, called the Core Residency Design Curriculum (CRDC), in late 2017.
The CRDC is designed to proactively educate residents and physicians throughout MGH on the basics of 3-D printing, programming, prototyping, entrepreneurship, writing patents and business plans, and other skills. In this week-long innovation boot camp, participants hear from Succi and other subject matter experts, including the director of the hospital’s Center for Clinical Data Science, who discusses AI and machine learning — important aspects of any contemporary innovation program.
Measuring the Impact
Succi launched the CRDC as a pilot project in August of 2018. The pilot involved three classes with four residents in each class, for a total of 12 students, each of whom rated the course as “extremely effective.”
To further gauge the CRDC’s impact, Succi and the other expert presenters developed pre- and post-course assessment exams to rate students’ understanding of innovation. The scores soared from less than 50 percent to approximately 90 percent — spurring Succi to offer the curriculum to all residents, fellows, and attending physicians at MGH.
Fueling the Conversation
To build awareness around the incubator and keep innovation top of mind, Succi introduced the MESH Innovator Lecture Series. Launched in mid-2017, the quarterly program is “a platform for interesting people talking about innovative things,” he says.
These lectures aren’t limited to radiology. Succi invites speakers from various disciplines and draws attendees from across the hospital and beyond. Generally, Succi focuses on topics and speakers that are “relevant to the modern clinician.” Each lecture draws an average attendance of between 30 and 40 people — including medical students, residents, staff, and even members of the public.
MESH has become a strong branding and recruiting tool for the hospital, strengthening its reputation for innovation. Incubator participants have already disclosed five patents, and more applications are pending.
An IR who was having trouble stabilizing the radiofrequency ablation probe in patients’ chests developed one of the first patentable devices through the CIDC. After Succi observed several of the clinician’s procedures, the two worked together to design and 3-D print a probe stabilization device, which they tested in several simulations before writing the patent disclosure.
Succi and the clinician are now focused on further developing the technology and licensing the device for industry use. “This is just one example of the innovations we’re working on that will have a direct impact on the delivery of care,” Succi says.
Reinforcing Radiology’s Role
Interest in the CRDC has been so high, in fact, that Succi received another radiology department grant in December of 2018 to fund the purchase of additional 3-D printers and other equipment, enabling the CRDC’s expansion to other specialties throughout the hospital. By the end of 2019, the program will expand further to include clinicians from other institutions.
“We’re even working with other hospitals to help them establish their own incubators, creating a collaborative network for sharing knowledge and resources,” Succi says. “Ultimately, we want to popularize innovation across medical disciplines, while elevating radiology’s position in a quickly-changing landscape of value-based care.”
1. Succi MD, Uppot RN, Gee MS, McLoud TC, Brink JA. Medically Engineered Solutions in Health Care: a technology incubator and design-thinking curriculum for radiology trainees. J Am Coll Radiol. 2018;15(6):892-896. Available at bit.ly/JACR_MESH.
Andrew B. Rosenkrantz, MD, FSCBTMR
Section Chief of Abdominal Imaging, NYU
Dr. Andrew Rosenkrantz, Section Chief of Abdominal Imaging at NYU, joined SCBT-MR in 2010; he attended his first meeting in 2011 where he received the Cum Laude Award a scientific abstract presentation relating to diffusion kurtosis imaging in prostate cancer. Dr. Rosenkrantz became a Fellow of the society in 2015.
Dr. Rosenkrantz feels that he has had an incredible experience at the SCBT-MR meetings; “The society provides a wide range of volunteer and service opportunities, and members have enthusiastically taken advantage of these. The committee chairs at SCBT-MR have really empowered their members to lead projects and initiatives, propose new ideas, and work together in support of the society and it provided a tremendous opportunity for networking within the society and being able to make positive contributions”. Over the years, he has served on the SCBT-MR Communications, Program and Membership Committees. SCBT-MR is unique, “It’s been impressive to see the level of commitment and passion for the organization from its junior and senior members alike. The structure of the meeting breaks down hierarchies and encourages members to network and collaborate. The meetings have also done a great job of maintaining a highly diverse program, combining the more conventional scientific content with lively and engaging sessions covering all aspects of careers in radiology, including quality and safety, leadership, informatics, and beyond,” said Andrew.
He believes that the SCBT-MR meeting stands out for its focus on the latest scientific advances and technical innovations in the field of body imaging. The SCBT-MR meeting captures the most cutting-edge trends and provides attendees with a wealth of knowledge along with new skills and insights. The scientific sessions in particular have been spectacular, reliably presenting works from leading as well as emerging research groups in body imaging. These sessions have historically been a “can’t miss” portion of the meeting, and it’s great to see their expansion in the upcoming program. He likes the focused half-day workshops on timely topics within body imaging (dual-energy CT and rapid MRI in recent years) and said that these are also examples of the unique content received at the meeting.
As a prominent figure of SCBT-MR, Dr. Rosenkrantz encourages new members to volunteer and get involved. He especially encourages early-career radiologists to identify and develop their own particular niche and to foster their individual role within a given practice or society. He enjoys working with the junior faculty, being a mentor on projects, as well as collaborating with radiologists at other institutions through virtual/digital teams. He said that there are so many different ways we can all serve and contribute to the specialty based on our unique and varied experiences, insights, and skill sets. Providing close mentorship on individual projects helps not just for the project at hand, but also in supporting new radiologists in becoming involved in academic radiology in general.
Dr. Rosenkrantz said that there is not one single formula or recipe to be successful, but rather a lot of pathways towards success. The definition of success will be different for each academic radiologist, and what one radiologists finds rewarding will be different from that of their colleague. Accordingly, aspiring academic radiologists should be encouraged to chart their own course and not necessarily seek to fulfill external criteria that may not match their own ambitions or goals. It can be immensely powerful when an academic radiologist identifies an area within the field about which they are passionate and eager to commit their time and energies. He said that currently we are seeing departments, institutions, and specialty societies increasingly recognizing this diversity of interests and career paths, which will overall be of benefit to the field.