Value of collaboration underscored at Johns Hopkins Malone Center symposium

Event brings together experts in biomedical engineering, computer science, health care

Ed Schlesinger, Gregory Hager, and Michael Klag

Image caption: Ed Schlesinger, Gregory Hager, and Michael Klag

Credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

The Johns Hopkins University Malone Center for Engineering in Healthcare held its inaugural symposium today, gathering 100 audience members in the William H. Welch Medical Library at the university's East Baltimore campus.

The daylong symposium, titled "Engineering Innovation for Clinical Impact," featured panels of experts in biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, and health care who advocated for leveraging new and emerging technologies to deliver better health care. Panelists discussed the capacity for smart phone apps, wearable technology, and big data to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

"The mission of the Malone Center is to accelerate engineering innovation in health care technologies," said Gregory Hager, director of the Malone Center. "We must create a shared vision of the future that speaks to and engages the most creative minds in both medicine and engineering. This symposium paints a picture of not just what can be done today, but where we can go tomorrow by working together, and it will also serve to build a collective picture of pathways to get there."

Peter Pronovost, senior vice president for patient safety and quality for Johns Hopkins Medicine, spoke at the symposium. He argued that health professionals and engineers have different mental models for problem solving, and that greater collaboration is critical to improving patient outcomes and saving lives.

"I believe the future of health care is the combination of engineering and medicine," he said "What's hopeful is that all the great breakthroughs in the world—the vast majority of them—come not from doing either one of those mental models, but from doing both at the same time."

Panelists included Johns Hopkins faculty members as well as faculty from Carnegie Mellon, Duke University, the University of Michigan, the University of Pittsburgh, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Northeastern, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"These sorts of [interdisciplinary] partnerships are accelerating innovation across the university," said Ed Schlesinger, dean of JHU's Whiting School of Engineering. "They spur translation. We have the opportunity to make tremendous impact, and so I think, again, this integration—this collaboration through integration, this bringing together of a diversity of ideas and points of view—is our opportunity to truly lead in this new space."