Innovation Accelerator Award Winner
Over 6.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with heart failure. The American Heart Association predicts a 46 percent increase in the number of people diagnosed by 2030. How can we monitor heart failure patients who often have difficulty monitoring their own signs and symptoms?
As a gerontological nurse practitioner for over 30 years, Pamela Z. Cacchione PHD CRNP GNP BC FGSA FAAN, Ralston House Endowed Term Chair in Gerontological Nursing with Penn Nursing, has first-hand experience with the difficulties some heart failure patients have with symptom monitoring.
But it wasn’t until Dr. Cacchione’s own brother developed heart failure in his 40s following surgery that she considered a solution. “I could not get my brother to weigh himself,” she said. “We finally started talking about impressions from his socks, a symptom of peripheral edema, and it gave me the idea to develop heart failure monitoring socks that would measure swelling, activity, and possibly weight for people with heart failure.”
Dr. Cacchione’s innovation, called Heart Failure Monitoring Socks, provides an option for early intervention when symptoms worsen, even if the patient lives in a remote area or does not have regular care provider visits. Heart Failure Monitoring Socks have the capacity to transmit data to a care provider, the patient’s smartphone, or a trusted other, allowing not only for the identification of heart failure exacerbations but also to monitor for treatment effect.
After coming up with the idea, Dr. Cacchione partnered with a team of Penn Engineering senior design students to develop the first prototype. Her latest version of which features a more
wearable, non-bulky design. More recently, the promise of Heart Failure Monitoring Socks won Penn Nursing’s first Innovator Accelerator pitch day event in January 2020, providing Dr. Cacchione with a prize of $10,000 to continue the process of bringing her socks to market.
Penn Nursing’s Innovation Accelerator program prioritizes innovation and entrepreneurship, offering students and faculty an opportunity to compete for much-needed early-stage seed funding to move inventive and ambitious projects forward. In addition to providing up to $10,000 each year for projects, the winner(s) attend a 10-month accelerator program.
Marion Leary RN MSN MPH FAHA, Penn Nursing’s Director of Innovation, noted, “I’m so excited to see the incredible solutions that develop through this program, but I’m even more excited for what a program like this can do to develop nurses as entrepreneurs.”
Thanks to generous support from Penn Nursing donors Carolyn E. Bennett, Nu’91; Seth M. Ginns, C’00; and Andrea B. Laporte, Nu’69, the Innovation Accelerator program isa critical source of entrepreneurial funding.