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10 University Hospital Innovations

Recent medical discoveries may seem straight out of science fiction as health care adopts technologies like bioengineering, 3D computer modeling and tele-ICUs. Take a look at 10 exciting breakthroughs at university hospitals or hospitals collaborating with universities and medical or nursing schools. Research like this can improve the lives of patients and the rest of society. We listed these innovators in alphabetical order with an overview of their ground-breaking initiatives:

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  • Arizona State University's College of Nursing and Health Innovation: Telemedicine is one tool used to fight against hospital-acquired infections. In a tele-ICU, a remote team with special software analyzes the information entered at the patient's bedside in the intensive care unit. ASU's College of Nursing and Health Innovation plans to compare nationwide infection rates for hospitals with tele-ICUs and those without. The lead researcher, a practicing nurse as well as a professor, hopes to see whether tele-ICU systems can help reduce infections such as catheter-associated urinary tract infections. Read more here.

  • Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine: A high-tech tool for surgeons arose from the collaboration of Startup Surgical Theater, University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. This invention transforms a patient's static CT and MR images into a realistic, interactive, 3D computer-based model. The Selman Surgical Rehearsal Platform lets neurosurgeons plan and practice microsurgical techniques such as removing brain tumors. In addition, remote specialists can view and rehearse surgical procedures and provide feedback in real time.

  • Harvard Medical School: Harvard researchers built electronics into cyborg-like tissue by embedding a 3D nano-network of biocompatible wires in engineered human tissue. The scientists also constructed bioengineered blood vessels that could be used to measure internal changes. Observers can monitor the signals to see how cells respond to chemical and electrical stimuli and environmental changes. The technology could potentially show how tissues react to pharmaceuticals, or it could play a role in regenerative medical research focused on replacing human cells. Read more here.

  • Kansas State University's Johnson Center for Basic Cancer Research: Here's a new test to identify cancer in stage 1, thanks to scientists at Kansas State University, with support from the likes of the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. A simple blood test can detect the early stages of breast cancer and a common type of lung cancer, and similar research is planned for pancreatic cancer. Research shows that early detection improves the outlook for cancer patients, but cancer often isn't identified until stage 2, when people start showing symptoms. In addition to early cancer detection, this technique could help physicians monitor cancer status and verify tumor removal after surgery. Read more here.

  • McGill University: The community-focused McGill Nursing Collaborative Program unites practicing nurses with educators, researchers and graduate students. The nursing program partners with McGill University Health Centre and the Jewish General Hospital, also located in Montreal. McGill's School of Nursing, founded nearly 100 years ago, has been renamed the Ingram School of Nursing in honor of the donor supporting these efforts to enhance health care and prepare tomorrow's nurses. Read more here.

  • SUNY Upstate Medical University: Smokers and ex-smokers can get lung cancer screenings at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, NY. Affiliated with the State University of New York, this is one of the U.S. hospitals offering screening after the National Cancer Institute published a study on CT or CAT scanning. Most cases of lung cancer are discovered too late, according to the medical director of Upstate's Cancer center, and early detection improves the chance of a cure. The hospital has special computer software for the screening that uses less radiation than the usual CAT scan. Read more here.

  • University of California, San Francisco: The UCSF School of Medicine anchors a local ecosystem of bioscience researchers; for example, the school's Nobel laureate Shinya Yamanaka is also affiliated with the nearby nonprofit Gladstone Institutes. Yamanaka found a way to make human skin cells into stem cells usable for research on a variety of human diseases. This discovery gives mature cells the ability found in embryonic stem cells to become nearly any type of cell in the body. Read more here.

  • The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics: A new design concept for health care environments separates patient areas from staff work areas so that you don't have to witness behind-the-scenes activity and discussions. This onstage/offstage concept for the new clinic in Coralville allows patients to focus on their own experience, without wondering what the doctors, nurses and administrators are doing. The design was based on Disney Institute customer service training and could potentially improve patient privacy as well as staff work flow. Read more here.

  • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center: With sky-high ambitions, the Moon Shots program aims to speed up the development of new cancer treatments, cutting the number of related fatalities. The focus is on applying scientific discoveries and knowledge to create tests, devices and drugs that can benefit patients. The program brings together academics with industry leaders. To begin with, these multidisciplinary groups of researchers and clinicians plan to tackle eight specific cancers. The program is inspired by President John Kennedy's speech declaring the country's determination to reach the moon within a decade. Read more here.

  • University Hospital of North Staffordshire: Using text messaging, this U.K. hospital plans to remind patients about upcoming appointments in an effort to save money and prevent delays. The dial-a-cure system is set to first call patients and then send a text near the time of the appointment. The goal is to combat no-shows, which make up nearly 10 percent of outpatient appointments at the hospital. Reducing no-shows could cut waiting lists and combat frustration on the part of staff and patients. Read more here.

Dedicated researchers are hunting for more new procedures and tools that could improve health care for everyone. Thanks to innovators like these university hospitals, the space-age medical technology from sci-fi movies might be in your doctor's office soon.

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