Keeping Up With Innovations in Healthcare

The Next Generation of healthcare professionals will be under more pressure than ever to keep up with the latest technology in Health Sciences. At the same time, continued innovation in healthcare is also in demand. One organization in Tampa, Florida is meeting these challenges. 


When new technologies were coming out and some of those that we were currently researching and were involved with on the research side, we saw that there was this need for training of surgeons who were already out in practice.

Well, we actually renovated an existing building back in 2014.

We opened what we now call FIVE Labs, and it started out as the Florida Innovation and Education Labs.

Any new endeavor has its risks.

When we expanded and opened this facility, it was a huge jump in terms of our overhead and the expenditures, and so, yes, I had lots of sleepless nights.

It was one of those things that you worry, like, 'Okay.

Is this gonna pan out the way that you thought it was gonna pan out?'

All their planning and development has panned out.

With the Tampa International Airport, hotels, and restaurants conveniently nearby, FIVE Labs has become a major destination for training surgeons.

The way we designed it, we wanted everything to flow seamlessly so that you can have a group in the auditorium, let's say, and have a teacher in the lab that's doing a procedure, and everybody who's in the auditorium can watch it from the comfort of their seat, and they can ask questions in real time.

At the heart of FIVE Labs is a state-of-the-art training facility.

Director Joe Leonard has witnessed the evolution of progress here.

The laboratory space is actually just under 3,000 square feet.

There is over 28 lights in this room and two in the room next door to us here, so we can handle up to 28 stations, 30 stations, depending on what the equipment is, but most events are usually around maybe five to 15 stations.

And the most we've ever done in here is 24 shoulder stations with about maybe 100 to 120 people.

We have enough equipment here, kind of like a small hospital.

We have a ton of, you know, bandages, drapes, you know, different types of knife blades, different types of saw blades.

Behind me, you have an arthroscope, which is a kind of minimally invasive surgical procedure machine, and then there's a C-arm, which is actually a mobile X-ray machine that we can kind of bring into the field and utilize that to get imaging during our labs and during our events.

The skills learned here go far beyond these walls.

They'll take this back from here, and they may teach one of their colleagues or one of their residents kind of something they learned at one of these events that may better them in their practice, so it's kind of like a, you know, a 'six degrees of separation' kind of thing.

You know, the education they learn here may go help, you know, 20, 30 people and even more patients that come through their operating room.

Yet all this learning at FIVE Labs is only the beginning.

Continuing Medical Education Director Janine Hartfield leads the training efforts throughout the United States.

We do approximately 40 CME activities nationally.

Last year, we provided training to about 4,000 medical professionals.

About 2,500 of those were physicians and the others were allied health professionals.

And it all starts with a plan.

As part of doing a continuing medical education activity, you have to determine the reason for that activity, what they call a gap analysis -- why you need to do this activity, what gap is it filling, and then, derived from there, your objectives.

FIVE Labs is also focused on research.

Visiting surgeons and device makers partner in all areas of product development.

We wanted to in-house all of that.

We wanted to have our lab here so that when the surgeons are meeting with us and collaborating with us, they can actually go into the lab and say, 'Okay, here's what I'm thinking.'

And at the same token, when there's a problem, which happens a lot in these testing protocols, the engineers, they are faced with a problem, and so they need sometimes to talk to the surgeon to say, 'Okay, is this relevant to the experimental design?'

We also have medical device companies that have partnered with us and with our design engineer, Sergio, to do some early prototype work and to help facilitate the early design process.

Biomedical engineer Sergio Gutierrez collaborates with surgeons and device makers to develop the latest products for orthopedic surgery.

I can develop the idea that the surgeon has, but I also have to know where that idea is going, meaning what part of the body it's going to be used in or around.

So it's the knowledge that I gain from, you know, doing biomedical engineering that's helped me to know those things.

He works with FIVE Labs Biomechanics Research Manager Miguel Diaz.

Here in the biomechanics lab, we work with mainly orthopedic biomechanics and the medical device industry.

Behind me, we have the servo-hydraulic testing machine, but what we mainly do is we test different cadaveric bones as well as composite bones.

We always talk to clinicians.

They tell us what's wrong with the current products, and we always try to innovate those things, and the best way to do this is use a 3-D prototyper.

We 3-D print these objects, and we test it out and see if they work.

The work here is all about better outcomes for patients.

We are testing, and we're simulating what a patient would have after they leave from surgery, so we take this data, and we give it back to the surgeon, and they have a better idea on how they can treat their patients.

And by having the testing capabilities here, the prototyping capabilities, and then ultimately the bio-skills lab, where you can do some proof-of-concept testing and trial and error, having all that in one facility, it reduces the amount of time that's necessary for the different iterations of the devices and solutions.

Creating cutting-edge technology comes with both risk and reward.

If there is a chance that complications will increase with new technologies, that's a problem.

The doctors don't want to have a complication.

Medical device companies don't want there to be a complication.

If I was a patient, I would want to know that the doctor that was going to operate on me, you know, not only was experienced but had been through some training events prior to doing my surgery.

So that's ultimately why it's so important, is that we know that by practicing and doing these more that it can reduce the chance of complications, and that's what you would want.

That's what is good for the whole healthcare system.