News From CHEST® Physician

Meet the FISH Bowl Finalists


CHEST 2019 marked the inaugural FISH Bowl competition for attendees. Inspired by Shark Tank, our kinder, gentler, yet still competitive and cutting-edge FISH Bowl (Furthering Innovation and Science for Health) featured CHEST members disrupting our beliefs about how clinical care and education are performed. As health-care providers, they presented innovative ideas pertaining to education and clinical disease for pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine. Six finalists were chosen from dozens of submissions, and three emerged winners! In this limited series, we introduce you to several of them - beginning with finalist Dr. Ernest Chan.

Name: Ernest G. Chan, MD, MPH

Institutional Affiliation: Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Position: PGY-4 Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgery Resident

Brief Summary of Submission:

My innovative idea for the CHEST FISH Bowl Competition 2019 was a device that monitors the use of the incentive spirometry, as well as makes its use interactive with a postoperative surgical patient. Our device would have several modules that monitor the frequency, volume, and quality of each breath. All of the information will be sent to the electronic medical records, so patients can get feedback from the surgical team in real time. There will also be programmable alarms so that we can create unique treatment plans personalized to each patient. All of these functions will ultimately allow us as physicians to study this incentive spirometry better.

1. What inspired your innovation?

What inspired my innovation is the world we live in today. Everything is automated from your toaster oven to self-driving cars. This automation allows for improved adherence and minimization of confounding variables.

2. Who do you think can benefit most from it, and why?

I think the people who would benefit most are the patients. When you are at your most vulnerable state after surgery, it is important to feel like someone is looking after you. Right now with incentive spirometry, you are given the device, someone tells you how to use it one time, and you are supposed to use it correctly. With our device, not only are you constantly reminded of using the device, as well as using correctly, the medical team is being fed these data to ensure what you are doing maximizes the benefits.

3. What do you see as challenges to your innovation gaining widespread acceptance? How can they be overcome?

I think the initial challenge will be the acceptance in spending more money. Physiologically and scientifically, the use of the incentive spirometry should help decrease postoperative pulmonary complications, but the current data are controversial, at best. I think that if we can show improvement in these postoperative complications, taking on extra upfront cost in investing in our device will ultimately pay off in the end.

4. Why was it meaningful for you to emerge as a finalist in FISH Bowl 2019?

I believe CHEST to be one of if not the most premiere medical organizations in the world. To become a finalist in the inaugural FISH Bowl Competition is a complete honor. Throughout every CHEST annual conference, there is innovation in every corner and every presentation. I hope that becoming a finalist at the FISH Bowl competition is just the first in my participation with CHEST.

5. What future do you envision for your innovation beyond FISH Bowl 2019?

I hope that my innovation will inspire young thinkers to look at any medical device/procedure/protocol and say, “How can I apply technology to this to make this better/safer/more efficient?” Because the future generations are exposed at the youngest of ages to technology that is exponentially getting better each day, they will be the ones to come up with the greatest of ideas.

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