Last month, I traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah for the 2nd Edition Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) Training, a two-day seminar for healthcare trainers on newborn resuscitation. Our team is working on a device called the Augmented Infant Resuscitator (AIR), designed to improve the practice and delivery of more effective ventilation to newborns. Given its relevance, I was excited to attend, alongside my colleague Kevin Cedrone, a mechanical engineer and co-inventor of the AIR device.
This training offered scientific updates and new guidelines for quality improvement and processing resuscitation equipment to keep it clean and safe for subsequent uses. As a master trainer of this program, attending this conference was an exceptional opportunity. Not only did it provide me with curriculum updates, but it also represented an essential component of working in the medtech innovation space – continued learning and collaboration with others in the field.
Regardless of your focus area or stage of development, continued learning is invaluable, especially when it involves input and ideas from leaders and peers. Below are five reasons why I believe all innovators should invest their time seeking out similar opportunities:
- Interaction with Experts – No matter how much literature, articles or manuals you read, there’s no substitution for in-person learning and one-on-one interaction with thought-leaders and teachers. Hearing directly from those who are writing, researching and pioneering new concepts and methods enables better understanding and deeper dialogues that wouldn’t happen otherwise. For example, hearing the “internal debates” about potential other processing approaches was very helpful to both trust the updates and to be able to teach them with confidence.
- Peer-to-Peer Learning: The core AIR team consists of Data Santorino, a Pediatrician in Uganda, Kevin Cedrone, a mechanical engineer, Jim Wright, an electrical engineer, Naome Nsiimenta, a public health researcher, and myself. Together we’ve been able to blend our varied skills and backgrounds to develop this product. Despite this varied background within our team, attending this conference provided a critical opportunity to learn new perspectives from peers around the world working in the newborn health space.
- Feedback: If you’ve ever attended a CAMTech hack-a-thon, you know how much I love feedback! Listening to the input and opinions (the good, constructive and the bad) from others is a critical part of continued learning and necessary for continued success in the development of your innovation. This conference allowed attendees from various geographical backgrounds and care settings to share ideas in an open, non-threatening space. For the AIR team, it served as a venue to expand our understanding of how to scale an “add-on” device to existing resuscitation equipment.
- Iteration – Toward the end of the event, my team and I were able to combine the expert advice, peer-to-peer learning, and feedback we had heard over the course of the two days and really practice implementing these ideas and tools for further development of AIR. Iteration is an ESSENTIAL component of creating high-value solutions that will actually be used, provide benefit, and scale. In the words of the Ed Catmull, President of Pixar iteration is the way to go “from suck to not-suck”.
- Community Building – Each time I attend this type of training, I leave feeling renewed excitement and more connected to a global network of people dedicated to improving newborn health. We are able to expand our overall understanding of a space by exploring new perspectives of people with a common mission.
There’s no question that innovators and entrepreneurs are busy – it takes an incredible amount of time and effort to succeed. Without realizing it, we may retreat into our own clinics, wards, labs, or communities and keep a narrow focus –but we should be doing just the opposite. Medtech innovation requires a constant evolution of thought and theory, a collaboration between diverse backgrounds, and the desire to never stop learning.