Medical Innovation: Pinnacle Vision – AlleyWatch

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All human progress operating in service of bettered humanity is a response to one essential question: how do we evolve current knowledge into revolutionary concepts? In my four decades as an inventor, I have often found my response to this question to be one of medically-directed invention.

It comes as no surprise that the medical field is riddled with complexity. Creating something both innovative and effective involves a very unusual process that requires creativity—the paramount force in this undertaking—reinforced by passion.

In order to succeed in creating medical technology that furthers humanity, it is essential that one be a master of many fields. The solution lies within the interrelation, overlap, and communication of disciplines to create an effective medical product, and this is especially the case when it comes to particularly revolutionary medical creations.

I’ve been very lucky to help revolutionize medical technology at 3 stages in my career, having created over 40 medical products in diverse fields. To accomplish this, I had to draw upon my creative problem-solving methods, such as puzzle vision, but even more so, I had to maintain what I call pinnacle vision.

I want to emphasize that anyone is capable of the great innovative gains achieved through creativity if he is only willing to open his mind to possibilities. This said, I want to talk you through 3 innovations that utilized my unique fundamentals of creativity, harnessing innovation, in hopes that my experience will resonate with those of you hoping to be more creative and to help others.

EXAMPLE ONE

When I began innovating LASIK surgery procedures in the 1990s, the technology available was so relatively archaic that it only partially utilized a laser. Imagine that before laser surgery could begin, a rather gothic carpenter knife spun around the top of your eye to create a corneal flap. This device was the size of a coffee grinder, yet it needed to be accurate within half a degree, which was never possible. This was obviously a problem that no one was really doing anything about.

In collaboration with Doctor Tibor Juhasz, I worked to create the first prototype for a femtosecond laser that could cut a flap in the eye in 3D space. This device needed to be not only accurate, but also physiologically and optically acceptable, replacing the relevant technology while fitting in the procedure room and seamlessly attending to the needs of each patient. To do this, I had to become a master of multiple diverse disciplines, working hard behind the scenes to fully understand the detailed ins and outs of optics, mechanical engineering, physiology, and multiple other fields. This involved countless hours interviewing experts, doing research, and compiling my findings. As an inventor, I knew I needed to use what I call pinnacle vision to believe I was capable of learning the needed information and to direct that information towards a goal.

Today, every surgery in the world utilizes this invention—called IntraLASIK—and has improved surgical success by an incredible degree. The takeaway for you? Believe that you have the inherent creativity needed to learn whatever is needed to make a product a reality, whether in medicine or any other field.

EXAMPLE TWO

I developed the company Ophthalmic Synergies in order to be on the cutting edge of developments in cataract surgery. I am proud to say that most of the standard cataract surgery systems in the U.S. are those to which I have made major contributions.

When I started working on a streamlined cataract removal device, my vision was to combine a laser with a cataract surgical phacoemulsification system, creating one product. My efforts to patent it combined the best qualities of laser cutting, 3D space innovation, and standard emulsification. This visionary idea was the first of its kind.

My unique combination involved two different highly technical surgical procedures and the convergence of dozens of disciplines—biomedicine, chemistry, computer science, academic research, and patent design/legality among them—that were blended seamlessly into a successful surgeon-patient flow. This complex process also utilized my puzzle vision concept, with which you must create concepts in service of an unclear vision. In this case, I needed to converge disciplines to produce a hyper-effective result without knowing what the exact picture of the final vision was.

In using this confluence of disciplines and a vision guided by passion belief, which is a term I use to convey the perfect intersection of credence and emotion, 10 patents for this product were created worldwide. Ophthalmic Synergies then licensed this technology to LENSAR in a partnership, and in 2022, this revolutionary new machine is anticipated to hit the market. No vision is too big, no puzzle unsolvable.

EXAMPLE THREE

I was also fortunate to design a cardiopulmonary product for Edwards Life Science, a longstanding client of Patton Design. In collaboration with Morgan McKean and Dr. Feras Hatib, over the course of many years, we created the EV1000 clinical platform that presents the physiologic status of the patent in an intuitive and meaningful way, monitoring and displaying critical aspects of cardiopulmonary indicators regarding patents’ condition. As technology matured over the course of 7 years, it became the basis for what is now predictive analytics, capable of accurately predicting a hypertensive medical event before it happens. Praised by many, it is now popular throughout the world as a major innovation in this area.

This innovation would not have been possible had we not utilized the vision of multiple disciplines—in this case, software, graphic user interface design, and algorithms for translation into usable human data. All of this was directed by a grand pinnacle vision that allowed us to harness our care of and for humanity in order to produce tangible, productive results.

CONCLUSION

In the medical field, the stakes are elevated, as there simply cannot be mistakes. This means that creativity and imagination have the opportunity to be advanced—not overlooked—and passion is an integral part of this undertaking.

For me, there is no greater gift than improving and saving people’s lives, and both my perspectives and creative problem-solving methodologies are responsible for helping me to innovate in such a way as to allow me to have a hand in sewing the fabric of medical innovation for years to come. For you, I hope nothing more than that you are inspired and elevated by the belief that you have the capacity for great creativity—no matter where it directs you.

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Elena Johaness

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