HCD program

Human Centered Design

The Human Centered Design Program at MUSC is an innovative initiative that aims to bring design thinking to the Department of Surgery. Using a Human-Centered Design approach, novel solutions are created in the healthcare space that solves unmet medical need for users such as patients and physicians. The interdisciplinary HCD team leverages medical expertise, design experience, and advanced technologies to iteratively problem solve.

Joshua Kim, MS, design director of the Human Centered Design Program, collaborated with the Inter-professional Education group at MUSC to create an overview video of the human-centered design process. The HCD program challenges students and residents to identify unmet medical needs in and around the MUSC community and design novel solutions to satisfy those needs. Since the program’s inception in the fall of 2019, the HCD Program has helped create more than ten student-led start-ups at MUSC. Some are recognized statewide as S.C. Innovates Student Pitch Competition winners over multiple years. The program also provides an opportunity for residents and medical students to develop innovative solutions and become innovative thought leaders at MUSC. 

For human centered designers, there’s always a story behind the innovation.  That’s because Human Centered Design begins with the people you are designing for and finding a solution that fits their needs. The designer methodology uses empathy as a core value and creates an innovative solution. “Once you empathize with your user group, you start defining the problem, narrowing it down from something really big to something smaller and more measurable,” explained Joshua Kim, Design Director of the Human-Centered Design Program in the Department of Surgery.  

The next step is the ideation process where the designers create new ideas. “One of our favorite exercises designers use is what we call a ‘magic wand idea,’” said Kim. “Where we basically say if we have a magic wand and finances weren't an obstacle and technology was limitless what kind of solution could we create.”

According to Kim, this ideation process really opens up the possibilities for your future design and can help kind of create new ideas that are a better fit for the end user. Moving into the next phase of design – prototyping and testing – it’s critical to design without the fear of failure in order to discover the best possible prototype for the end user.

This year for the Human-Centered Design (HCD) Program course in the College of Medicine, led by first-year medical student and Director of the HCD Program Joshua Kim, MS, had four interdisciplinary student teams that delved into solving unique unmet healthcare needs.

The program culminates with an internal pitch competition, where the teams pitch to an external advisory board with decades of combined experience in medical entrepreneurship to get critical feedback before launching their ideas after the course. This is the third cohort to go through the HCD Program.

This year, the competition was exceptional, with judges deciding to award two first place finishes to Axitect, a project focused on reducing the incidence of breast cancer in female providers exposed to radiation in their practice, and MedSecure Align IV, a project focused on improving the safety of patient ambulation through IV-line management and security.

The other two teams were Machsensus, focused on alleviating the struggles with alarm fatigue for nurses and medical staff using AI and machine learning and Vi-MD is focused on improving and streamlining ultrasound guided vascular access for trainees and physicians alike with a novel “third hand” device.

This year's judges included: David Mahvi, M.D., Chief of Surgical Oncology; Prabhakar Baliga, M.D., Chair of the Department of Surgery; Joe Scalea, M.D., Vice Chair of Innovation and Professor of Surgery; and Captain James Bezjian, Ph.D., Director of the Innovation Lab and an assistant professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship in the Baker School of Business.

All teams moved on to participate as finalists in MUSC’s Innovation Week Student Pitch Event, an MUSC wide pitch event where students compete for $2500.  One of the original start-ups created through the HCD Program, Heartbeat Technologies, also presented at the Student Pitch Competition. 

“The program continues to grow with increased interest from students in the MUSC College of Medicine and the Citadel’s Baker School of Business,” said Kim. “The students learn a lot about the design process and business modeling.” For teams that want to continue to continue to pursue the projects they developed during the class, HCD program advisors are available to help coach them through the next steps. “It’s a lot of work,” he said. “But it’s well worth it.”

Student teams participating in the HCD Program compete in an internal Pitch Event.  They pitch to an external advisory board with decades of combined experience in medical entrepreneurship to get critical feedback before launching their ideas after the course. This year's judges included: David Mahvi, M.D., Chief of Surgical Oncology; Heather Evans, M.D. MS, Professor of Surgery and Vice Chair of Clinical Research and Applied Informatics; Captain James Bezjian, Ph.D., Director of the Innovation Lab and an assistant professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship in the Baker School of Business and Dave Slenzak, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Broadtree Partners, LLC.

This year’s winning team at the HCD Final Pitch Competition and the MUSC Innovation Week Shark Tank Event was Endovascular Solutions. Team members include Riley McGinnis, 4th-year MUSC medical student; Benjamin Ellison, 2nd-year MUSC medical student; and Reece Blackwood, a Citadel business student. Vascular Surgeon Adam Tanious, M.D. MMsc, who identified the problem for the HCD team, served as their project sponsor.

“The problem that we sought to solve was how might we improve the organization of wires, catheters, and sheaths on the back table for endovascular procedures,” said McGinnis. “In any endovascular procedure, there are wires, catheters, and sheaths all over the place. These tools need to be kept organized and identifiable for rapid handoffs to the surgical field. Additionally, outside of the body, any blood on them will begin to clot, requiring the devices to be wiped down by hand with the cleaning solution before being passed on to the field.”

The product makes endovascular devices and tools easily identifiable and accessible to the vascular technicians while accommodating the natural workflow of the operating room, particularly with the technician and surgeon interactions. 

“Our solution helps achieve safe and efficient endovascular care by improving the organization and communication in the OR, reducing the number of wasted tools and the number of incorrect handoffs,” said Ellison. “We’re currently beta-testing the product and filing for a provisional patent while hoping to start a small-scale trial to demonstrate the effectiveness of the device."

One of the original start-ups created through the HCD Program, Heartbeat Technologies, has taken off and has gained widespread recognition at national conferences and state-wide events for their innovation around improving CPR outcomes. The start-up has completed clinical trials on healthy controls, pilot animal studies, and is being funded through grant awards and private investors.

The three research residents  Kristen Quinn, M.D., Julie Siegel, M.D, and Leah Plumblee, M.D., along with medical student Heather Holman  are part of the Human Centered Design team who worked with and learned from Senior Human Centered Designer Joshua Kim. The group, under the leadership of Mike Yost, Ph.D. and David Mahvi, M.D. worked with pediatric cardiac surgeon T. Konrad Rajab, M.D. to develop an innovative design concept for a new CPR product, The S.A.V.E.R. (The Safety Adjunct for Vascular Extremity Occlusion during Resuscitation).The team has been recognized for their innovation both at MUSC and state-wide. The grants and prizes will help fund the development of prototypes. 

Wins State Competition in 2021

Congratulations to the Human Centered Design Team medical student Heather Holman, surgical residents Julie Siegel, M.D. and Kristen Quinn, M.D. who took first place in the SC Innovates 2020 competition with their human centered design product, The Saver, a new CPR device! The team was selected by a panel of judges as submitting one of the top 15 ideas out of 77 entries by students from across the state to advance to the finale, which they won and were awarded a $4000 cash prize! 

Receives High Innovation - High Reward Grant 2021

T. Konrad Rajab, M.D., Kristen Quinn, M.D. PGY-3, Leah Plumblee, M.D. PGY-3, Julie Siegel, M.D. PGY-3, and Human-Centered designer Joshua Kim, MS received the High Innovation - High Reward Grant. The title of their research is "The Safety Adjunct for Vascular Extremity Occlusion during Resuscitation." Dr. Rajab is the Principle Investigator and mentor to the HCD team working on this innovative research for the new CPR product, the S.A.V.E.R. They were awarded $10,000 to build prototypes of the S.A.V.E.R., and complete hypothesis testing on the methodology and patentable technology.

The High Innovation - High Reward (HIHR) Grant is a part of South Carolina Clinical & Translational Research Institute’s (SCTR’s) Pilot Project Program. The primary objectives of SCTR’s pilot project funding are to support new and innovative, scientifically meritorious projects to collect critical preliminary data for submission of extramural grant applications, to publish and disseminate research findings, and to support development of intellectual property and commercialization. 

Poster Presentation During Innovation Week 2021

Their research was also accepted for a poster presentation during Innovation Week. Innovation Week is a  week long celebration of MUSC’s culture of innovation and is designed to inspire and empower the MUSC community to innovate.