EchoSure - BMEidea 2013 Finalist

Meet the Innovators

EchoSure Team

The team:
EchoSure

The team members:
Devin Coon, 30, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Adam Lightman, 26, from Memphis, Tennessee
David Narrow, 22, from Baltimore, Maryland

School:
Johns Hopkins University

The device: 
A simple system that, for the first time, enables nurses to perform routine monitoring of patients’ vascular health at the bedside.

The problem: 
Each year, hundreds of thousands of patients undergo surgeries in which arteries and veins are joined together. These surgeries save lives, yet too often result in failure because the vessels break down in the immediate post-surgical period.

During clinical observations, the EchoSure team saw firsthand the poor performance of existing blood clot detection systems and the consequences for patients when clots were not detected in time to save the surgery. For example, a female patient who had undergone surgery to create a new breast out of her abdominal tissue had a clot form after surgery, and by the time it was recognized, it was too late to have it removed. The reconstruction was lost.

Doctors often decide against using existing clot detection systems due to their many shortcomings that affect safety and accuracy. The EchoSure team saw the need for a safe and effective system that doctors could utilize consistently.

The solution: 
The EchoSure system detects post-operative complications as they arise, giving surgeons the chance to restore the surgery before it’s too late. The system is comprised of the EchoMark, a novel implant, and EchoFind, an ultrasound software package that locks onto the unique EchoMark signature and analyzes blood flow. Together, these components provide a simple system that enables routine monitoring of vascular health at the bedside for the first time.

Challenges encountered:
The most significant challenge has been to understand their users’ needs. EchoSure is the first fully functional ultrasound device designed for use by a nurse at the bedside. The team continues to refine the system so that a nurse with little-to-no ultrasound training can use it effectively, requiring robust yet user-friendly software.

Accomplishments and progress to date:
EchoSure has developed a working prototype that has demonstrated notable success in large animal trials.

Their tip for other student innovators:
The EchoSure team has learned that successful medical innovators must have a core clinical need that acts as a motivational drive to sustain them during long hours of difficult work. The clinical imperative reminds everyone why they are making a sustained personal investment. 

Yet, the clinical need must spur passion not only for the innovators themselves, but also for influencers in the outside world. The success of an innovation often hinges on whether it causes someone to “sit up in their chair and give you ten minutes of their time.”