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Meet the Innovator

Innovator: Melissa Elliott, Ph.D.(c), MSN, FNP-BC

Organizations: Children's Mercy Kansas City

Roles: APRN Coordinator, Ward Family Heart Center

Area(s) of Innovation: Cardiology, Fetal Health

Description: MyHeartArt is a web-based tool available by annual subscription. It creates an anatomically correct, artist-quality rendering of a patient’s heart.

It is a useful tool to convey health information to patients and families. It also establishes a shared understanding among the entire care team to aid comprehension of hemodynamic considerations for pediatric cardiac patients.

Website: PedsMrkt-MyHeartArt


How are you advancing pediatric innovation?

My innovation, MyHeartArt, is used to create a fully customized heart diagram. The tool allows the end user to choose customizations for every section of the heart. The result can be printed or saved as a pdf. The user can also add text, labels, or other education to further customize the image for their unique needs. I saw a need to create well-made, easy-to-understand diagrams rather than the cobbled together approaches available to clinicians and patients prior to this innovation. I was inspired to give all families the opportunity to see and understand their child’s condition.

How does your innovation impact patients or pediatric care?

Having a beautifully crafted and accurate cardiac diagram is impactful for families. Understanding and being able to communicate about their child’s unique condition is helpful for health literacy and care team collaboration. And it also improves the mental and emotional well-being of the family. I love hearing stories of families taking their heart diagram to teach their extended family. Parents have taken their diagrams to outside hospitals to show their new care providers. One family had their child’s heart diagram printed on cookies, and another family planned to have the image tattooed on their body!

What barriers did you have to overcome to make this impact?

Nay-sayers were my biggest barrier. When I shared my vision with industry leaders, they were inspired conceptually that this would add tremendous value, but they said it could never be done. If I can personalize a pizza or a car on the internet, why can’t I personalize a heart?  I became even more determined by their skepticism and said, “Challenge accepted.”

How did collaboration and breaking down silos help you make this impact?

Collaboration, especially with the Center for Pediatric Innovation and my colleagues who have helped me refine the tool, was key for me. I never could have gathered resources for coding and creating more medical illustrations without the support of that team. It would also be so easy to never complete this project since it is work that I do on top of my usual clinical and administrative tasks. Having a team to help me develop and commercialize this product and keep us all motivated for 5 years has been critical for success.
How can this innovation make an even greater impact?

Getting this innovation into other centers and practices is going to be key to helping more families and care teams.  Additionally, expanding this technology to other body systems such as renal and orthopedic will continue to expand the scope of impact.

What advice would you give others who are innovating in pediatric healthcare?

Never give up and remember your why! It can be so easy to lose sight of the finish line in the middle. Find your key stakeholders and supporters that believe in you. Be open to iteration. You may see many dead ends (especially with funding) before you find help in unexpected places.  It is all worth it in the end when you see the impact you envisioned come to life!

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