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3D Printing Fuels Innovation for Future Doctors

These doctors are teaching medical students to design devices, spaces, and services to become creative healthcare problem solvers.

As part of a new project, a pair of doctors is using a laboratory with Ultimaker printers to train new doctors. Dr. Bon Ku and Dr. Rob Pugliese of Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital in Philadelphia created a new laboratory for doctors to better hone their skills to perform better under pressure. This is being achieved not only through accurate models, but by creating custom solutions and tools and using 3D printing to reduce time between designs.

Dr. Ku and Dr. Pugliese are co-directors of the JeffDESIGN program as well as practicing Emergency Medicine clinicians and professors at Thomas Jefferson. They were also inspired (and continue to be inspired) by the Maker Health movement, a project initiated by MIT’s Jose Gomez-Marquez and his team. The two considered how they could make a difference in health professional training by encouraging the creativity, on-the-spot problem solving, and spirit of initiative that is asked of physicians.

Dr. Bon Ku and Dr. Rob Pugliese of Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital in Philadelphia created a new laboratory with Ultimaker 3D printers for doctors to better hone their skills to perform better under pressure.

 

Their answer was the creation of the Health Design Lab and the JeffDESIGN program. The program enables and empowers students to create their own solutions to healthcare rather than just imagining theoretical ones. With JeffDESIGN, Dr. Ku and Dr. Pugliese are bringing back the role of physician as inventor.

“These are real, everyday problems we see as practitioners and providers, but currently medical school doesn't prepare doctors to deal with them,” says Dr. Ku. “These rapid cycles of inquiry, discovery, prototyping, and testing will help future generations of doctors and give them the toolkit to address these problems.” The Health Design Lab serves as an adaptable and functional prototyping space designed to support collaboration among health profession students, designers, and clinicians.

Having explored a number of other desktop 3D printing options, the team found the Ultimaker printers the most precise and reliable to compete with the high-cost industrial additive manufacturing tools typically purchased by a hospital system. In addition, the user experience and clean, professional appearance gives busy health professionals the confidence to roll up their sleeves to engage with the tool and design challenges.

The JeffDESIGN program enables and empowers students to create their own solutions to healthcare rather than just imagining theoretical ones.

By taking advantage of 3D printing technology to better prepare doctors with tangible accurate models, the two doctors wanted to start the first dedicated 3D printing and design program for future doctors within a medical school. According to the doctors, the program has empowered med students to invent their own solutions to healthcare challenges and helped tighten design cycles. Their products draw from training and experience with actual patients, striving to make a difference in the quality of care for future generations.

Ku added, “We had a design-thinking workshop, and invited doctors and researchers to present their pain points in medicine. We took these ideas as seeds and produced a real working prototype six months later. We just got our patent approved last week. We rapidly sped up the process of designing that device thanks to combining design thinking principles and the use of 3D printers to accelerate the prototyping process.”

 Bon Ku is Assistant Dean for Health and Design at Thomas Jefferson University. He received his B.A. at University of Pennsylvania, his MD at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and his Master in Public Policy, Health Policy at Princeton University.

Rob Pugliese is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Thomas Jefferson University and Emergency Medicine Pharmacist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. He received his MD in Pharmacy at Northeastern University and is a contributing writer for Pharmacy Times, covering topics such as emergency medicine, teaching and technology.

TAGS: Awareness
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