Inspired by the smart technology of a hand-held game controller, Dr. Joshua Broder of Duke University walked away the ultimate winner in the inaugural Point of Care Ultrasound (POCUS) Research Challenge offered by the Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF) and GE Healthcare (GE).
In a first-of-its-kind research partnership, EMF and GE launched the POCUS research challenge designed to push the boundaries of ultrasound technology. More than 80 applications were received from across the globe and four finalists were selected by a review committee of emergency research physicians from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). Each was awarded $50,000 for their projects and given the opportunity to compete for an additional $150,000 through a social media campaign targeting the emergency medicine community. While promoting their projects online, finalists also presented their research concepts at ACEP’s Scientific Assembly, each vying for votes from their peers.
In the end, Dr. Broder’s project edged past the competition to win the popular vote and the additional funding. An emergency physician at Duke University, Broder uses a fingernail-sized microchip, mass produced by the millions for cell phones, to translate 2D ultrasound machines into 3D imaging devices. Broder’s goal was to “create a cost effective solution that is convenient to the point of care.” The chip is snapped onto the ultrasound probe to create 3D images. Broder says, “We took existing technology and made it better at a very low cost. We are spectacularly excited about this grant because the fruits of our imagination will become a reality."
In addition to Broder, the other finalists presented applications both diverse and boundary-pushing. Dr. Mark Favot, an emergency physician at Wayne State University in Detroit, considered ultrasound use in acute heart failure. Dr. Andrew Liteplo who practices at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston used ultrasound to address sepsis and hypotension. Dr. Douglas Blank of Monash University in Parkville, Victoria in Australia utilized the ultrasound technology as a way to assess lung issues in extremely preterm infants.
According to Paul Mullens, General Manager for Point of Care Ultrasound at GE Healthcare, “GE is shifting the focus of our innovation so that caregivers can shift the focus of theirs. I’m convinced that if we can take what is hard or tedious in POCUS examinations and automate it, then caregivers can shift their focus from image acquisition protocols, freeing their brain space for clinical reasoning.”
EMF Chair Dr. Hans House voiced his enthusiasm for the winners, saying, “This project has significantly advanced point of care ultrasound use in the ED by stimulating the creativity of some of the most dynamic and inventive emergency physicians working today.” House described the project as win-win, combining research, technology and innovation.
Mullens praised the partnership with EMF saying, “I’ve been encouraged by EMF’s enthusiasm to experiment with how we encourage, select, sponsor, and execute rigorous research projects.” Research results from each of the four award winners will be featured at ACEP’s 2018 Scientific Assembly in San Diego next fall.
Founded in 1972 by visionary leaders of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), the Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF) invests its funds to further emergency medicine research, improve patient care and provide the basis for effective health policy. To date, EMF has awarded more than $15 million in research grants to advance emergency medicine science and health policy.
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