Biodesign Bootcamp — Week 3

After having to jump into clinical rotations in the Emergency Department on Day 2 of Week 1, we joined a series of lectures on the digital health and med tech startup world in Week 2. This week, the biodesign teams participated in a series of primers on how to gather customer/user insights through ethnographic research methods. I was happy to put on my research hat to do more observations and interviews.

Biodesign teams visiting the OR at Texas Heart Institute with Paul Fearis of Clinvue. Photo credit: Joowon Kim.

My brief visit to the Operating Room at Texas Heart Institute allowed me to see what happened in a Cath Lab (one possible type of cardiovascular surgeries), what products were used, and how the physicians and nurses communicated and orchestrated the procedures. In an observation, it appeared that the surgeons intended to only evaluate the patient and do a catheter procedure. Instead, it was determined that a stent was also required, and the operation flawlessly and smoothly transitioned into a placing a stent in the patient.

Thoughts of the week:

What I’m thinking about? How is the general biodesign approach a fit for med tech vs. digital health areas? What does the landscape for healthcare look like? Where does the value of digital health fit within the healthcare landscape.

What impresses me? Since the AT&T Foundry is a part of TMC, Faraz Hoodbhoy, a director of the program from Palo Alto, gave a presentation on the AT&T Foundry and his own personal entrepreneurial journey. Faraz was a serial entrepreneur and a three time founder. He shared several lessons learned. How I would summarize is that relationships matter, including the ones closest to us who should be our source of strength. I think it was his sharing that that was particularly insightful.

What’s cool? Although I mentioned that I briefly met Dr. Billy Cohn on my first day, I didn’t fully understand his career. Dr. Cohn spoke to the TMCx med tech startup and biodesign groups, sharing his experiences in a classroom presentation. I wish I could better sum it up, but surely can’t express his colorful, passionate style. His background was truly remarkable from working with Michael DeBakey and patented ~40 inventions. Even more so, I heard the story of how he used dacron fabric (like DeBakey) and supplies from Home Depot to prototype what became the artificial heart. He showed his various “kitchen tool” prototypes that became surgical tools. His creative spirit, the tinkering, the prototyping, and the entrepreneurship bringing self-made tools to commercialization was inspiring. Even though we’ve barely met and having come from vastly different fields, I felt a deep kinship that related to my experiences growing up with artistic interests and in my studies as an industrial designer.

So the bootcamp is coming to an end and I’ll share more about how we wrapped up next.