skip to main content
Main Site Navigation
Top of main content

Inspiration abounds for healthcare solutions as Make-A-Thon deadline nears

Inspiration abounds for healthcare solutions as Make-A-Thon deadline nears
Dr. Kelly Roth with her twin sisterLike many in healthcare, Kelly Roth, MD, a first-year resident at Carle, has a very personal reason for choosing her career. And this time of year offers a very clear reminder.

“When we were in second grade, my twin sister became ill with a rare disorder called Kawasaki disease. Suddenly my best friend was no longer at my side. She was hospitalized for weeks, but the pediatricians in the hospital were so kind and reassuring. They treated us like their own family,” Dr. Roth said. “Eventually, she was released – on Christmas Day – and I was inspired to give other families the same comfort and compassion our family had received.”

Compassion isn’t Dr. Roth’s only driver.

“Innovation is incredibly important in the medical field. There’s so much to learn and even more we don’t know yet,” she said. “Being a physician is all about making a commitment to lifelong learning, and that includes making ourselves aware of issues in healthcare that may need some problem-solving.”

Organizers of the second annual Illinois Health Make-a-Thon competition invite all state residents – a broader reach this time – to submit their problem-solving ideas by the Jan. 6 deadline. The 10 best ideas for improving human health will receive $10,000 in Health Maker Lab resources to create a prototype of their idea. Carle Illinois College of Medicine created the competition to democratize health innovation, allowing more people to share their innovative ideas and see them come to life.

At Carle Illinois’s Dec. 7 student-focused event, Dr. Roth and a host of other volunteers helped foster the kinds of ideas the larger event will feature. Health Make-a-Thon finalists will be notified in February, with 10 winners chosen at the event March 28.

“As a resident, I bring a different perspective on issues in healthcare, and I like to share my experiences in the hopes that they can help guide new ideas,” she said.

At the student event, Carle Chief Medical Officer Charles Dennis, MD, stressed the importance of innovation around rural healthcare delivery in his keynote address.

Make-A-Thon participants work in groups as they prepare to share their ideas.“We talked through key barriers, and we set students up in teams with great resources in U of I College of Engineering, clinicians and community members,” Dr. Dennis said. “We wanted them to see that the ideas they form to meet the needs of rural America are translatable to any healthcare environment.”

When it comes to ideas, Dr. Dennis emphasizes how essential it is to engage healthcare providers that are part of the Carle Rural Alliance for Exceptional Care.

“We have to include the individuals actually most burdened with these problems because some of best ideas come from there,” he said.

An especially exciting part of the Illinois Health Make-A-Thon process is taking ideas, choosing which to explore and more quickly implementing some than would be the case with more traditional research.

“Whether the process gives us two blockbuster ideas or smaller but impactful ideas is the whole point,” said Jennifer Eardley, PhD, Carle vice president, Research. “The reality is we’ll likely get both and be able to develop some to help patients and providers in the near future.

“That’s the beauty of innovation – the blend of possibility and action.”

Dr. Roth’s sister – and her inspiration – is also a fan of innovation.

“We are still close and visit each other regularly. She is a project manager, data engineer and consultant at a start-up company in Chicago,” Dr. Roth said.

Categories: Redefining Healthcare

Tags: Carle Heart and Vascular Institute, college of medicine, , Dr. Kelly Roth, , innovation, make-a-thon, resident