Ascension Seton employees, UT students shape medical innovations


Allred-Millard-Patent-Filing-Award-with subtitleAscension Seton draws upon employees, UT students to shape medical innovations

Local medical device company licenses three Ascension Seton health care inventions

Ascension Seton has successfully licensed three patent-pending technologies to Austin-based Medical Innovation Labs (MIL), which will refine the prototypes and develop them into commercial products. The inventions are aimed at improving patient outcomes and reducing hospital-acquired infections and were developed by James Allred, MD, while he served as chief dermatology resident at Seton.

One of the inventions, a sanitizer dispensing door handle system, was developed in partnership with University of Texas mechanical engineering students, who helped build the prototype.

“The fact that someone I know came up with this one great idea is energizing. And that we’re seeing it come to fruition before our eyes really inspires us to look deeper into how we can improve our everyday lives,” said Christopher Ziebell, MD, Medical Director at University Medical Center Brackenridge.

Ascension Seton is part of Ascension, the largest nonprofit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system.

Inventions aimed at improving health care quality

The Sanitizer Dispensing Door Handle System is a push/pull door-mounted hand sanitizer dispenser that doubles as a door handle. The user can simultaneously open or close the door latch while getting a squirt of hand sanitizer. Designed to be used in a teaching hospital setting, the dispenser can also be used by passersby while the door is not in use.

UT mechanical engineering undergraduate students partnered with Ascension Seton and MIL to build a physical model of the door handle system. The prototype, which they refined based on clinician feedback, was used to explain the features of the apparatus to MIL and others.

The Shave Biopsy with Depth Gauge improves on the tissue biopsy blade, a common tool used by clinicians to obtain tissue samples from a patient to determine if a skin lesion is benign or cancerous. The invention helps clinicians get enough skin tissue to analyze while keeping the risk of scarring and damage to a minimum. It uses depth markings to gauge how much tissue is gathered, allowing for more accurate diagnoses and fewer biopsy follow-ups.

The Wound Dehiscence and Scar Spread Minimizer helps wounds heal and minimizes scarring by applying just the right amount of pressure to the wound during the healing process. This “super Band-aid” also lets the clinician peek under the wound dressing to observe progress without disrupting the healing process.

Ascension Seton innovators like Allred and Ziebell benefit from talking to innovation team members on digital marketing, technology trends, communication, business development, research, public health, nursing, engineering, insurance, intellectual property law, venture capital investment and strategic planning.