Innovation Cohort


The Innovation Cohort empowers care team members across MaineHealth to advance the “back of the envelope” ideas that address the unmet care needs they see every day. This 8-week program convenes a small group of interdisciplinary healthcare professionals as they embed themselves and their identified project in innovation science, user discovery, prototyping, and intellectual property considerations.

Collaborative brainstorming and feedback fuels project breakthroughs and challenges perspectives. An encouraging environment teaches participants how to ask the right questions and connect with innovation colleagues.

Testimonials from Cohort Participants

“A great learning opportunity!”  

“A very motivating, inspiring, informative program!” 

“The guidance and insight from the program helped us move our project forward!” 


The Innovation Cohort runs twice a year. Applications are due every Spring and Fall.

Applications for Spring 2023 have closed.

The Spark! Celebrating Innovation at MaineHealth

Innovation Cohort Project Examples

Check out some of the amazing work of MaineHealth Innovation Cohort participants. 

Learn about Will Connolly's 2020 Cohort Innovation
Learn More About Obieze Nwanna-Nzewunwa's 2019 Cohort Innovations


Applications are reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team. Proposed projects are evaluated against core and additional criteria.

Core Criteria: 

  • Need: Does this novel solution address an unmet care need?
  • Approach: How is this solution novel or innovative?
  • Benefit: How does this novel solution impact more than one of the MaineHealth strategic priorities of patients, people, population and value?
  • Competition: Does this novel solution exist within a larger commercial market or within the MaineHealth system? If so, how is this solution different?  
  • Team + Expertise: Is there a passionate and engaged team supporting this novel solution? Is there a MaineHealth champion associated with the team? Does this team have the right expertise or can they identify the expertise needed to build a stronger team?   

Additional Criteria:

  • Market and Size of Opportunity: What market(s) could benefit from this novel solution and/or what is the size of the opportunity to impact MaineHealth and its communities?
  • Commercialization and/or Scalability Potential: Is there potential for the commercialization of this novel solution? Is there potential for this novel solution to be scaled across the MaineHealth system?
  • Follow-On Funding: How might the novel solution generate additional external or departmental follow-on funding after the program period?
  • Cost Savings: How might this novel solution create cost savings
    for the MaineHealth system?
  • Workforce Development: How might this novel solution advance the professional and/or career development of its team members?
  • Community Economic Impact: How might this novel solution have a positive impact on the economic growth and development of our community?
  • Diversity, Equity + Inclusion: How might this novel solution advance MaineHealth DEI strategies?
  • Scholarly Activity: How might this novel solution be disseminated through publications and or/research?
  • Departmental Support: Does the team have the support of their immediate MaineHealth department leaders to work on this novel solution?

Review Process:

  • MaineHealth Innovation Team and multi-disciplinary review committee will review applications based on the criteria above
  • Selected applicants will be asked to interview with the Innovation team to ensure projects align with the Cohort experience

You may include some budget information in your application.

Each Innovation Cohort usually includes 4-6 projects. Some projects are led by a single innovator, while other projects have a project team of several innovators.

The Innovation Cohort is offered to all care team members across the MaineHealth system, so we expect to receive many applications.

The bi-weekly meetings are intended to help you and other Innovation Cohort project teams talk through project needs. The bi-weekly meetings will review  innovation science, user discovery, prototyping, and intellectual property considerations. Guest speakers may include alumni from previous Cohorts to provide lessons learned and best practices, as well as experts in prototyping and intellectual property.


PEGE: Hands-On PEG tube model & education tool
Chelsea Hardy, MS, RD, LD – Clinical Bariatric Dietitian, Southern Maine Health Care

Year Round Wellness: use of virtual chat to help pediatric patients grow up healthy
Charlotte Helvie, MD – Pediatrician, Memorial Hospital

Histology Transport Container Insert
Sue LaPierre – BioBank Scientific Manager, Maine Medical Center

Public Animated Video Campaign to Increase Mental Health Literacy
Hannah Burley, MD – Psychiatrist, Maine Medical Center

Community-Based Biometric Devices for Diabetic Patients (1st project)
EPIC Post-operative Scheduling Assistant for Patients with Limb Loss (2nd project)
Benjamin Branch, DO – Associate Medical Director, Maine Medical Partners Neurosurgery and Spine

Distraction Technology to Enhance the Experience for Children and Adolescents Receiving Outpatient Pediatric Infusion Care in the Maine Children’s Cancer Program
Aaron Weiss, DO – Medical Director, Maine Children’s Cancer’ Program

Tracie Barbour, CHSOS – Simulation Specialist, Maine Medical Center
Chris DiLisio – Simulation Specialist, Maine Medical Center
Project: Refined Pessary Implant for Simulation Training

Jeremy Lott, MD – Resident, Maine Medical Center
Project: Hydraulic manifold system for the distribution of contrast, saline, and other media

Larry Marcus, MD, MS – Otolaryngologist, Maine Medical Partners
Project: Telehealth ENT Consult Device

Malvina Gregory – Director of Interpreter & Cross Cultural Services, Maine Medical Center
Nathaniel Meyer – medical student, Maine Medical Center
Alexander Schin – medical student, Maine Medical Center
Project: Access Avatars: imaginary, diverse, and intersectional personas

Janet Moore, RN – Nurse, Midcoast Hospital
Karleen Smat, RN – Nurse, Midcoast Hospital

Bethany Sweet, CCLS – Child Life Specialist, Maine Medical Center
Project: 3D-Printed “Port-a-Catheter” for Patient Education

Michael Zubrow, MD – Pediatrician, Maine Medical Center
Point of Care Ultrasound Tele-Training

Lauren Boehm, MD – Resident, Maine Medical Center
Project: Food sodium tester

Sara Cox, CNRN – Neuroscience Patient Navigator, Maine Medical Center
Project: NewGown™

Will Connolly, RN – Trauma Nurse, Maine Medical Center
Project: Suction device to clear patient airways

Alex Gingrich –  Director of  Nutrition Services, Maine Behavioral Healthcare
Project: MaineHealth food truck/mobile food pantry

Nancijean Goudey, RN, MPH – Nursing Director, Maine Medical Center
Project: Anti-strangulation undergarment

Mary Ottolini, MD, MEd, MPH – George W. Hallett Chair of Pediatrics, Maine Medical Center
Michael Ferguson, MD – Pediatric Intensivist, Maine Medical Center
Project: Neonatal Resuscitation Training Simulation w/ Augmented Reality

Kyle Reed – Respiratory Therapist Supervisor, Maine Medical Center
Project: Improved facility for end of life care

Zach Tillett, MD – Resident, Maine Medical Center
Project: Blue light app to mitigate brain injury

Jeffrey Halter, MD – Pediatric Surgeon, Maine Medical Center
Project: Clip to Close Gastrocutaneous Fistulas

Peter Klausmeyer, DPT – Physical Therapist, Waldo County General Hospital
Project: Hydraulic Walker to Go Up Stairs

Obieze Nwanna-Nzewunwa, MD, MS – Resident, Maine Medical Center
Project: See and Treat Cervical Cancer with Low Cost Device

Susan Speckhart, MD – Hematology Oncology Physician, Maine Medical Partners
Project: Cancer Survivors

Theodore Wissink, MD – Family Medicine Physician, Maine Medical Partners
Project: Group Visit

Alexa Craig, MD – Neonatal Neurologist, Maine Medical Partners
Project: Oral device for infants

Christopher  Turner, MD – Pediatric Surgeon, Maine Medical Partners
Project: Visual Surgical Education

Damien Carter, MD – Critical Care Surgeon, Maine Medical Partners
Project: Fish Skin for Temporary Burn Coverage

Daniel Hussey, MD – Resident, Maine Medical Center
Project: Customization of Ostomy Applications

David Kispert, MD – Resident, Maine Medical Center
Project: Needle to Reduce Infection IV Drug User

Heidi Morin, RN, MSN, MBA – Nursing Director, Maine Medical Center
Project: Staffing to Match Patient Acuity in Birthing Centers

Jay Vance, MD – Resident, Maine Medical Center
Project: Aortic Snorkel Clamp to Reduce AKI in Vascular Surgery

Jennifer Monti, MD – Cardiologist, Maine Medical Partners
Project: Catheter for Arrhythmia Treatment

Meagan Hall, LCSW – Social Worker, Maine Medical Center
Project: CF Social Network

Michael Robich, MD, MSPH – Cardiac Surgeon, Maine Medical Partners
Project: Trocar for Chest Tube Placement

Robert Smith, MD – Infectious Disease Specialist, Maine Medical Center
Susan Elias, MS, PhD – Staff Scientist, MaineHealth Institute for Research
Project: Web-based tick forecasting tool

Sean Lena, DO – Resident, Maine Medical Center
Katherine Rizzolo, MD – Resident, Maine Medical Center
Project: Map network of services for New American

Sean Novak, MD – Radiologist, Maine Medical Center
Project: 3D Pulmonary Nodule Tracking

Verity Ramirez, MD – Resident, Maine Medical Center
Project: Food Genome Project