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OPAT Adherence Device Wins Grand Prize at IDEA Incubator Competition

 Four Finalists Present ID Innovations at IDWeek 2019


WASHINGTON, D.C – Oct. 17, 2019 – A device designed to improve adherence to outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy (OPAT) took top prize at the second IDEA Incubator, a competition showcasing inventions, products and devices to improve patient care for infectious diseases, which takes place during IDWeek. Four finalists were chosen from among 51 applications to present their solutions to address challenging problems, including sepsis and central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI), in the Shark Tank-style competition.

Awarded the grand prize for the OPAT monitoring device were Sai Dodda, PharmD, clinical coordinator, Ballwin, Missouri, and Chris Sleckman, MS, engineer, Clayton, Missouri, both of HIVE, a student-run biotech startup at Washington University in St. Louis. Every year more than 300,000 people receive OPAT, which enables them to get intravenous therapy (IV) for challenging infections while remaining at home or in an outpatient clinic, rather than needing to be hospitalized. However, 16% are readmitted to the hospital for noncompliance.

The winning innovation is a sensor that detects when IV medication is connected to a patient’s peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line, meaning the patient is beginning therapy. The data is then sent in real time to the patient’s doctor and home health agency to help them monitor use and intervene when patients aren’t compliant. Additionally, health care providers are alerted if the medication is not administered at the correct time. Because OPAT is significantly less costly than in-hospital therapy, the researchers estimate the device would prevent $2,000 in costs for every day of hospital readmission avoided. Dodda and Sleckman were awarded the grand prize of $10,000.

“The competition is an excellent way to elevate the importance of innovation and support solutions to some of the biggest problems in infectious disease,” said Audrey R. Odom John, MD, PhD, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, one of the judges for the 2019 competition and the winner of the last year’s inaugural IDEA Incubator for her “malaria breathalyzer” diagnostic tool. “The prize money enabled us to build a prototype to bridge the gap and secure $500,000 in National Institutes of Health funding to move the project forward with the goal of eventually using it to improve patient care.”

The other finalists:

  • Mark Sendak, MD, MPP, of Duke Institute for Health Innovation and Cara O’Brien, MD, of Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, were awarded second place for Sepsis Watch, a software model that predicts sepsis within four hours of a patient being admitted to the emergency department to ensure timely delivery of treatment. It is being used in several hospitals and preliminary research has shown a 15% improvement in 3-hour sepsis treatment bundle compliance. They were awarded $5,000
  • Juan Walterspiel, MD, FAAP, a pharma, biotech and medical device consultant and inventor, of Menlo Park, California, was awarded third place for his passive solution to prevent CLABSI, which leads to 10,000 deaths every year. The innovation is an inexpensive sleeve that fits over the end of the valve connector of the line to prevent contamination. He was awarded $2,500.
  • Ige George, MD, MS, and Gerome Escota, MD, both of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, were awarded fourth place for their Twitter-based platform, @WuidQ, which is the first free open-access medical education resource to provide review of infectious diseases through board-style, multiple-choice questions. It did not receive a cash prize, but was honored due to the high quality of the application.

Applications for the IDEA Incubator were reviewed and scored by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) Telehealth and Technology Workgroup to determine the finalists for the live competition. Dan McQuillen, MD, FIDSA, also assisted with scoring. Finalists then presented their innovations to a panel of judges, including Jonathan Burkland, managing partner of River Corporate Advisors, LLC, Manon Floquet, an independent health care entrepreneur and Seth Radus, senior director of Federal Government Affairs for Abbott Laboratories, in addition to Dr. Odom John. All finalists were provided free booth space in Innovation Alley at IDWeek 2019.

Launched at IDWeek 2018, the IDEA Incubator was the brainchild of Javeed Siddiqui, MD, MPH, head of the IDSA Telehealth and Emerging Technologies workgroup. He moderated this year’s IDEA Incubator and was a key planner for the event.

For more information regarding the IDEA Incubator and the finalists, please visit


About IDWeek

IDWeek 2019TM was the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS). With the theme “Advancing Science, Improving Care,” IDWeek features the latest science and bench-to-bedside approaches in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and epidemiology of infectious diseases, including HIV, across the lifespan. IDWeek 2019 took place Oct. 2-6 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit


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