The more I work with health innovators, the more evidence I have that many healthcare entities are hesitant to innovate. Between all the red tape and risks, many find it hard to see the value. And when they do, the industry generally has much longer acquisition cycles for buying and adopting new solutions.
But refreshingly, not everyone is resistant to change.
On today’s episode, we’re joined by Pothik Chatterjee, Executive Director of Innovation & Research at LifeBridge Health. LifeBridge is an example of a health system that’s truly on the forefront of innovation, and it’s incredible to hear about.
Pothik tells us about his role at LifeBridge, specifically as it relates to his work with startups and health innovators. We discuss topics like:
- The challenges that new innovators face when it comes to finding the right decision-makers and advocates to pitch and “sell” their innovations to
- What he looks for in potential innovation partners, like a compelling narrative, a diverse team, solid experience, and the ability to really prove ROI
- The general process of evaluating potential partners and finding the right way to work together, from designing the pilot to transitioning after the sale
- The differences and considerations LifeBridge looks at when evaluating innovations that are radically vs. incrementally disruptive to the system’s current M.O.
Pothik Chatterjee is the Executive Director of Innovation & Research at LifeBridge Health, a Baltimore-based community health system. Pothik’s department acts as the “front door” for health tech startups that are looking to enter a clinical setting and find the right partner to do so.
Pothik has worked with hospitals for more than five years, with a high involvement in innovation and operations. Even in his earlier work in financial services, healthcare has always been a theme in his career, leading to his conscious switch into the hospital side. He’s dedicated to better understanding the needs and challenges of patients and providers, so he can better connect them with solutions in the market.
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Speaker 1: Welcome back to the show COIQ listeners on today's episode, we have Pothik Chatterjee with us today. He is the executive director of innovation and research for LifeBridge health. Welcome to the show.
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Speaker 2: Thank you for having me, Dr Roxy. Excited to be here.
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Speaker 1: Thank you. And you know, I don't want to forget to mention that you also just received an award last year for 40 under 40
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Speaker 2: thank you. Yes, it was very, very exciting and a great acknowledgement of the work of our innovation and research department overall at LifeBridge health.
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Speaker 1: That's awesome. So let's just get started by telling our listeners a little bit about you, your background and what you do.
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Speaker 2: Sounds good. So as you mentioned, I'm the executive director for innovation and research. So I'm responsible for the operations for innovation and research team and is we act as the front door for startups that are focused on innovation and technology and looking to enter a clinical setting and find the right partner within our health system, whether it's a clinical champion within a particular department or our chief informatics officer or connecting with someone in supply chain. Our innovation and research group acts as the front door and we help complete the evaluation and understand, uh, the best technology might fit in with our clinical needs for our healthcare system and our patient's needs as well. In terms of my background, I have been working in hospitals for over five years now. So I've been working at LifeBridge health, which is a community health system in Baltimore, Maryland.
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And prior to LifeBridge I worked in academic medical center at Brigham and women's hospital in Boston, which is part of the partner's healthcare system and the Harvard medical school teaching hospital system. So I've been very involved with hospital innovation and operations. Prior to that I worked in the financial services industry. So I did a switch in my career after business school, so I worked in healthcare investment banking, private equity and venture capital investing with TD capital in Toronto. So I've always had healthcare as a theme in my career or my very first days. And I made a conscious switch to move into the hospital side of the business because I wanted to get closer to physicians and patients and understand their needs and their challenges so that we get better connect them with solutions from the market.
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Speaker 1: So, um, I just, you know, I think that that's just excellent that you guys have provided a formal front door for, for health innovators to approach you. Um, you know, I have conversations with folks all the time that are like, how do I get, who do, how do I get in front of the right people? And you know, is it the chief innovation officers? It's a chief medical officer. Is it a, you know, mid-level director for a department or an initiative that's happening in, it sounds like you guys have made that process much easier by being the entry point in kind of the, the evaluation or funnel for it.
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Speaker 2: Yeah, I, I would say based on my experience that there, it can be very challenging from the startup's perspective to understand where their solution fits in and how to sell and advocate for their particular type of technology, whether it's artificial intelligence or deep learning or automation or mobile applications. And I'll talk a little bit about some specific examples where we've partnered with startups and large companies to implement those solutions in a hospital setting. But based on my experience, I, I can definitely understand the entrepreneur's challenges and struggles because hospitals have long, uh, acquisition cycles in terms of purchasing and renting new technologies. And by sort of, by virtue of our industry of healthcare, we tend to be pretty risk averse, especially in a hospital setting where if a particular process or technology or clinical workflow is performing adequately, then there is a bias towards retaining it rather than testing something new.
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Because there's obviously risk involved for patients and physicians. So I can fully understand the challenges by having worked with startups from both the academic medical center side and now from the community health side as well. What we have tried to LifeBridge to try to reduce that challenge and reduce that barrier for entrepreneurs is to have curated events like an innovation challenge that we did last summer with blue cross blue shield of Maryland, the care first group where we did a call for applications from startups all over the country for specific issues that can help reduce the peer provider, uh, friction around our operational flows. So as you might know, uh, we ha we still use quite manual processes to get information from our electronic medical records over to our insurance partner. So look to explore ways to use technology and AI and automation to move away from fax machines.
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And 2020 we shouldn't be using fax machines, we shouldn't be automation the way that Google or Amazon to reduce the friction for us as healthcare systems, but also for the patients ultimately as well. So we did a very, um, specific type of, uh, challenge, which we, uh, based on the shark tank model where we have Eos and leadership from our hospital system and the blue cross blue shield site. We also involve the city of Baltimore. We had our health commissioner, Dr Leticia Derasa participate as a judge and we were amazed at the reception that we got. We expected maybe 20 or 30 applications. We ended up receiving over a hundred applications from all over the United States and Canada as well. We had to narrow it down to six finalists for the competition and elected a winner based on the judges, uh, and based on the pitches from the day.
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So the winner was, uh, Washington DC analytics firm called socially determined that looks at the social determinants of health and how they affect patient's lives outside of our hospital. So looking at issues like homelessness, addiction, transportation challenges, so that our care managers can better triage the patients and connect them with community based organizations to help the patients. Because we realized that a lot of the health factors that impact patients outside of our hospital. So the way we understand and integrate that into our care management approach, the better we think the overall healthcare outcomes will be. And as our industry moves from a fee for service model to a value based care model in the United States, it's becoming increasingly important for us to focus on outcomes and show the value that we're delivering to patients. So the innovation challenge that we did is just one example of how we are trying to reduce the friction and connect with the startups that meet the needs of our healthcare system.
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Another thing that we have done within our department is have office hours for local startups to come in and speak with myself and with our chief innovation officer, uh, connect them with funding opportunities to help fund the pilots, uh, to get from that six month or one year stage to the enterprise level contract can be quite challenging. So we are trying to make ourselves more available to connect with entrepreneurs and in those office hours, sometimes they'll bring in clinicians as well to give the clinical feedback that Hey, this technology is awesome. We would love to use virtual reality headsets or um, AI around some type of ambient environment. Those could be really good solutions, but it doesn't meet our need today. Right now. Right now I have a much more specific need around just diagnosing a particular type of condition or improving our time so that we can be more efficient and improve our throughput time. So we're offering more channels and more opportunities to bring our innovation leaders and our clinical leaders face to face with entrepreneurs. So that's another example out to the third one is that we have gone through a pretty extensive process internally of identifying what our biggest needs within within supply chain, within clinical areas like cardiology, surgery, oncology, so that when startups come to us, we can them a
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Speaker 1: better way to assess what our annual strategies are based on the organizational strategy. So a great example of this in real life is our discussions that we had with a company called Get Well Network. So a mobile application for patient engagement called get well. So this is use post discharge when our patients are leaving our hospital inpatient or ed. In the past we used to get them print out, so manual information that was complicated, sometimes difficult for them to understand and there wasn't really an easy way for them to come back and ask clarification questions. So we recognize that as a pain point within our hospital system. And two years ago we implemented this mobile application so that when you leave our hospital, you get a text message or an email invitation to join the Get Well loop. And this gives you automated reminders about your meditation, about how to sign up for followup appointments, about how to get in touch with your care team from the comfort of your home outside the hospital.
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And we've seen tremendous engagement from our patient population. We have seen over 14,000 patients who have actively used the Get Well loop mobile application. So it's improved communication pathways, it's improved patient satisfaction and patient engagement. But what's really interesting, dr Roxy, is that we're now also seeing an impact on clinical outcomes. When you are more digitally engaged with healthcare and getting real time feedback from the care team, we're actually seeing improvement in care outcomes and seeing a reduction and readmissions for the digitally engaged population. We took one year's worth of data from 2018 to 2019 and found a 30% relative reduction in revisits to the emergency department for patients who are digitally engaged with the gap while loop back. That's significant. You know, that's actually exceeded what our initial expectations were and we think it's because of the real-time connection. We think it's because of the convenience of having this tool in the Palm of their hands.
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And I think it's led to increased engagement on our physician and provider staff as well because they know that there's this tool that they can talk to patients about. So it's shown engagement on both sides. And the next steps of our analysis are now to see if we can combine social determinants of health with the readmissions patterns to understand how we can inform our care management strategy and even policy to understand what parts of the Baltimore population we could engage with. This technology and better understand what their limitations might be or what their needs might be or the application. I think that is incredible. And what's, what's percolating on my, in my mind over here as you're speaking, is that what you're describing, a pathway that you all have created a process or a framework, um, to validate problem, solution fit and product market fit.
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Um, w w whether that was intentionally designed are not, you know, when I think about our listeners and, and what you just described, the takeaway here is that this is the most successful path for problem, solution fit and product market fit. And the reason why I say that is, you know, I hear so many innovators that are pitching solutions to a health system, spending a lot of resources and they're not, they're not doing the homework up front to identify what is those that systems initiatives and priorities, right? So maybe it's a problem that they're aware of that the, the system has, but if the health system is not aware of the problem or it's not something that they're looking to solve today, it is a waste of time. Go knock on another door. Right?
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Speaker 2: Absolutely. And I think there's a responsibility on both sides to educated, more organized and be more efficient and about being able to act quickly when there is a good match between the pain point and good solution. Um, as I mentioned, health systems traditionally have not been the fastest movers. We are not necessarily like a technology company like Apple or Amazon where we can break things, disrupt things because there's patient lives that are involved and careers that are involved. So we have a responsibility as a nonprofit institution to really test things or really to understand the impact of digital tools on patient experience and patient outcomes. But, but you're right, there could be a shift towards more information sharing and being more systematic about what our biggest priorities are. Because something that I really, that makes me really sad is when I see a very spirited, talented entrepreneur who does have a great solution.
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And even though we need some tweaks or refinements, they're just not able to connect with the right decision maker within a healthcare system or they don't understand how the budgeting process works. And what we have available in our, um, resources and capability to purchase and implement something and they just don't quite understand the connections. And as I said, there's responsibility on both sides. I'm going into the healthcare system from finance over seven years ago now. Um, I didn't have a great understanding of who the key decision makers were, how to engage physicians in a appropriate manner and it's something that comes with time and experience. Um, but I do think that there's some secret sauce that we have discovered at LifeBridge health as a community health system where we are able to be very clear about what our priorities are. And our priorities as I mentioned, are around improving access using mobile applications and digital health. Another priority for us is to use artificial intelligence and embed that in our clinical workflow to improve triaging of patients and help our physicians with their decision-making process. So we go back to the market with a consistent message and I think that helps us solidify our relationships with entrepreneurs as well.
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Speaker 1: Yeah, definitely. So want to go back to something that you touched on earlier about the front door. Let's just talk about this. You know, the reality of that experience. So you, you know, you've got these applications, you know, with these curated events or you've got the front door where, you know, um, people are being funneled to you. If they have something that they want to sell, a solution that they want to sell to your system. W describe what that experience is like in the context of, you know, how equipped or the entrepreneurs to, um, tell the story, tell a compelling story, be succinct in their value proposition. You know, all of these things to get your attention and, and to get your time, um, to be able to present. And then when they do present, you know, the compelling offer versus, um, the disconnect. And maybe it may be an experience where you said, I kind of, maybe I don't even understand what you're doing. Go back to the drawing board or I understand what you're doing. But if you described it this way, I could see it would solve this problem better than the problem that you're saying it could solve. Let's just talk about that a little bit.
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Speaker 2: Sure. That's a great question. Uh, in terms of a conversation or experience that we have had with a startup where they had a very clear story, um, and that made it much more, much easier to be honest, for us to be able to move forward with that company. I think there's several features in that and I'm going to try to draw on several startups that have those examples. So the first one I would say is a compelling narrative about the impact for either our patient population or our physicians. So if there's a gripping story that they can share with us about a personal connection to healthcare, it could be a family member or it could be an experience from working in the industry and a pharmaceutical company or a medical device company. And they had an aha moment where you recommend where they realize this is such a huge need and I have a unique solution to bring it to market that nobody else is doing.
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That's a great way for us to start the discussion. The second thing that's just the start though. That's not enough to complete the conversation. I think the thing that I looked for is about the product itself or service. What's really unique about what you have developed? Uh, have you gone through the FDA process? Have you thought about what the regulatory regulatory approval process and timeline looks like? Have you done the research? Have you done the homework? Um, the best pitch presentations that we get show clear, almost like a direct comparison of your product or service compared to others in the market. And it has to be honest as well. Right? A product or service inherently single aspect of that technology about when they don't have any competitors, it's so revolutionary. There's nothing like that and you're like, Oh, come on. Even substitute products are that revolutionary.
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You have to have at least one or two other comparisons that you can at least show some, uh, comparison with, understand that you're like them, but there's something unique about you. Yeah. So that type of detail about the technology and the product is something that we look for as well. Thirdly, I look for a team and the experience. How are you a seasoned entrepreneur? Have you been able to develop a software service or developed a medical device and been able to sell it to a large corporation or taking it to IPO to market? Um, do you have balance in your team? Do you have a combination of management experience in the business world? Do you have a clinician or at least a strong clinician on your board of advisors? And then do you have operators who are doing this full time who can do the market research, who've been to the product development or be a customer, a champion?
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That's been very helpful in our gap while loop experience having someone who's dedicated to LifeBridge health and can help develop the content for our mobile applications and really partner with us. So those are the three things that I look for initially. Um, so the narrative, the technology or the product. And then thirdly, the team and the experience. And then the fourth thing that I look for for life wages have, are you able to explain to us how your product will deliver ROI return on investment? So a lot of these new technologies can be extensive, $1 million or a multimillion dollars. And as a nonprofit hospital system, we have to be very conscious about how we're allocating capital to life. Giving needs of clinical departments. For us to justify an investment in a new technology can't just be a shiny toy. It has to be something that augments our physician, uh, capabilities or improves patient outcomes or helps reduce costs.
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Um, so I really value an entrepreneur who is able to show me a high-level analysis of how our million dollar investment example in this technology we'll be able to pay itself off in a couple of years. And how to quantify what the benefits are for our health system. Because ultimately there's going to be someone within our side who has to make that financial decision, whether it's our CFO or if it's the finance director for the department of orthopedics or for surgery. And as the innovation team, we have to be able to understand your thesis around that ROI and be able to communicate that to advocate on your behalf. So those are really the four main things that I look for.
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Speaker 1: I think. Thank you for taking the time to share those details because I think that that's really important for our listeners to hear. Um, and even some of it is like, yeah, sure, of course, but it's good to just hear it reiterated. Um, you know, from a health systems mouth directly of like, yes, this is what I have to do. So, so I want to ask you, you know, emergent companies, emergent startups are always at different phases of, in this process. So how much of what you just described are you looking to be concrete, um, in order for you to play, play ball and, and kind of entertain that idea. And how much of that is, well, if you've got these things, we can figure out the other parts together. Um, because I think that's, um, something that I'm seeing happen more and more of, you know, entrepreneurs previously feeling like they had to have all the answers and they kind of had to have like a year's worth of data to substantiate the, you know, those clinical outcomes and so forth. And then I've talked to other people that are like, you know what, you don't have to have all the answers. Let's do this together. Um, so what does that look like for you guys?
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Speaker 2: The honest answer is that it depends on the use case and the strategic importance of the application or device in terms of our overall organizational priorities. Um, so what do I mean by that? If the startup or a company, early stage company that we're looking at is developing a solution for our virtual hospital, for example, uh, which we have at LifeBridge health, which is our call center. And we also use a variety of technologies for telemedicine and tracking patient flow within our hospitals. And now hospital beds are being felt that's a big strategic priority for the hospital. So for that part of our business, we're not going to work or the very, very early stage startup because there's a big impact on patients and our clinical experience. So that might not be appropriate in that case. However, if there is a startup that's focusing on more incremental change, um, rather than big disruptive change across the system.
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And what do I mean by incremental change? I mean offering, um, let's say a medical device that has some type of new capability. Uh, let's say for example, it's a knee brace for orthopedic patients as well and it helps improve their mobility through some type of stimulant. Um, or if there's something about the way that the knee brace is constructed that superior, that's something that we would be willing to test in our gait lab at Sinai hospital to see if there's, we could do a small pilot with a small number of patients or even the employees involved with our gait lab to see if there's some incremental improvement there. Another example where we could really partner with an early stage startup, could be on the software side around patient, um, experience where we could focus on a specific division or a specific department that has been having a lot of challenges engaging their patients outside of the hospital and say, let's try this with 30 patients or 50 patients over a specific period of time and here are the outcomes of success that we're looking for.
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And if it's a lower risk type of scenario, then we would be willing to engage more with the startup to partner. But that I, I want to put out there in terms of your listeners and your audience and the community that even though smaller pilots do require time, effort and sources and obviously everyone knows clinical time is incredibly valuable, uh, because of the patients that doctors need to see. So we do need to factor in the cost of those smaller pilots as well. Um, but in those situations what we can do is negotiate some type of opportunity for co licensing or opportunity for future commercialization from the content that we developed together with the startup or particular instances of the software. So that's something that we're open to as well. Um, because we, we realize that we add a lot of value as an experienced healthcare system, uh, with an active innovation department and we want to help early stage startups where we want skin in the game as well. And we want to be able to share in the success if your mobile application or clinical decision making software shows a lot of success and then you're able to expand to 50 hospitals across the United States, then I think it's fair for us as a healthcare system to be involved in that success.
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Speaker 1: So I think that's a really valid point for our discussion as well because I'm seeing more and more of that where the exactly what you just described, where the health system is saying, okay listen, we can explore this together, but I've got to have some benefit than just taking, you know, six months, 18 months of my time, my team's time helping you build your company and build your solution. Right. Makes sense. Yeah. So one of the thing that you touched on that I think it's really important that I want to explore a little bit deeper is this idea of a customer champion or even like a clinical champion. So one of the other strategies that I am, um, you know, hearing more and more with our, with our clients that we work with that is successful is that I am not going walk into your front door, give you this compelling narrative and story, um, and it be aligned with your initiative.
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And you say, yes and we move fast and we get it through the door and then be able to walk away that, you know, that everybody has processes and businesses objectives, you know, departmental goals, et cetera that they have to work on. And your solution is not necessarily the priority even though it was paid for and it was adopted and said, we're going to do this. So how much responsibility does the system, and does the, um, the, uh, health innovator need to, um, be a part of that solution even after the sale to make sure that there's adoption and that there's some advocacy how happening and making sure that they get the right outcomes at the end of that pilot or, um, or that engagement?
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Speaker 2: That's a great question. I love that you brought that up. Dr Roxy. I think it's essential for the innovation department to be closely involved with the startup because uh, during that transition period, after the six month or one year pilot to when we do the handoff to the clinical department or finance or billing or revenue cycle management that's going to be using the tool because there's a lot of education that's required, a lot of meaning and a lot of awareness that needs to be shared with the staff around the benefits of the tool. And that's an important value of the innovation and research department through that hand off process. Because as you have seen, and I have seen, there are instances where you have a very spectacular pilot and there was one clinical champion or one administrative vice president who was really supportive and saw the benefits of um, a purchasing tool for example, where you can look at and just coming up with an example cost of surgical implants.
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I'm looking at market comparisons and get savings from such an implementation. But once it completed that initial pilot stage, there was maybe another stakeholder who wasn't as involved earlier on who has another vendor that they have in mind and that they're not as excited or enthusiastic about this initial product. Um, if we as the innovation and research group bought that company into our system, yes I believe we do have a responsibility, be thorough and understand how these decisions are being made and communicate them to the entrepreneur. It can get a little awkward sometimes because the pilot results were so successful. And then we have to explain some strategy in different decision-making process. But I do think we have a responsibility because it goes beyond just one startup or one. It's part of our reputation to the overall startup community and even tech community. We don't just deal with early stage companies.
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We deal with mid stage companies and large companies in tech, pharma and biotech. So part of our overall reputation and credibility that we give a clear rationale why we are not going to proceed or proceed with a new solution. Um, and that's part of, you know, our culture and our message within the LifeBridge innovation and research department. I think it also becomes challenging when you're trying to grow. Sometimes if you grow too quickly and take on too many startup partners, this risk that you're describing is more likely to take place. So when I'm talking to our chief innovation officer, dr Dan about our strategic plans for the upcoming year for 2020, where you try to be very intentional about our capacity as innovation group but also the strategic priorities of some of the key players that we work with. And again, those are the clinical departments I asked, uh, to a degree marketing if it involves patient engagement and patient experience. Um, and yeah, we try to be very collaborative and have a clear sense of what we can take on as a group and what we can take on as a hospital as well. Um, I do think we bear some responsibility.
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Speaker 1: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So you've touched on a couple of times in this conversation and I think we talked about it even more in some of our previous discussions about um, speed and moving quickly. And I think I just, I fell off my chair and our previous discussion, you know, it was like clue what a health system talking about speed, um, uh, and agility and moving fast and being flexible and, and so, you know, kind of describe for us a little bit about the culture within your organization and how you think that, um, that plays a role in your innovation success.
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Speaker 2: Yeah. Thank you for bringing that up. It's one of the aspects of our innovation shop that I'm the most proud of at life itself. And I think it's part of our secret sauce for why we have been able to implement a number of successful pilots that are showing significant outcomes and benefits for our doctors and our patients. I think it comes from the senior leadership of the organization, from our CEO to our chief innovation officer to our chief financial officer. Uh, where did they really want to be cutting edge and not just be cutting edge with what's available in the market today, but think beyond to what would be the best technology for our patients to really improve their care and improve their lives three years from now or five years from now. Um, they're always trying to stay one step ahead and that's really influenced my thinking and my approach as well.
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They are also willing, I think to take more chances than potentially some other healthcare system leaders. I would say compared to academic medicine is a more risk averse culture. I think being in a community health setting because we want to get innovative medical devices or pharmaceuticals or medical software to our patients quickly, um, we are willing to really emphasize that speed aspect. Um, and if you know, some of these pilots don't work, we're willing to pivot, which is something that's really, I think unique as well and be really honest with ourselves at looking at the metrics. And if we did it to meet our goals, to say that this didn't work, we need to look at another solution. Two specific examples, dr Roxy, quick speed to market and working with startups and how that really improved our patients outcomes. So the first one is an artificial intelligence company called rapid, which focuses on stroke patients.
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So their AI software allows our physicians to determine when a stroke patient comes in to our emergency department, the brain can still be saved in the hours after which when a patient has a stroke. So it allows us to expand the therapeutic window to attempt more lifesaving stroke interventions than we could do before we implemented rapid. So we've been working with this Israeli startup now for the last three years and because of our partnership with the startup, we've seen a significant increase in our stroke intervention service at LifeBridge. And we've implemented the software at all of our emergency departments. Um, we've seen a really great response from our physicians as well and we've seen improvements in our workflow. Um, they had one of the first FDA approved AI applications for stroke. And so that shows you that life bridges willing to partner with new developers of solutions and really bring them into our clinical workflow.
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And we received an award last year for Maryland. Thank you for the fastest door to needle time and it's called the golden Brene award from the state of Maryland stroke center consortium. So we believe that our partnership with this rapid startup really helped us with this award. The other example, which is a little bit more recent, so this is not three years, but this was from last year in 2019 is another artificial intent of intelligence application for a chest CT scans. So this is for a pulmonary embolism patients as this AI software looks at the CT scans and helps to identify potential cases of PE and pulmonary embolism is considered a silent killer that causes up to 200,000 deaths a year in the United States alone and it often strikes with little to no warning and diagnosis of a case can be extremely time sensitive. Again, doc is an FDA approved algorithm and they are able to lead to the chest exams, CT exams as soon as the patient is scanned and then it notifies the radiologist if there is something that they need to look at urgently based on the CT scan, over 9,500 studies with the AI doc software to date.
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So that's sample of working with an early stage startup in the AI space that has received FDA approval and bringing it into our clinical workflow to show the results in a community health setting.
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Speaker 1: You know, those are just beautiful examples. Um, and, and I want thank you so much for sharing the details of those. I want to go a little bit deeper and talking about MVPs, right? And, and so as we, as you mentioned earlier, you know, health systems tend to be risk averse. Um, and you know, there's a lot of cause behind that, right? Because like you said, lives are at stake. Um, and so we can't just, you know, throw something at the wall and see what sticks. But what I like, what you just described in these two examples is something that's very cutting edge, very innovative. Um, there's a certain amount of risk associated with adopting these new things, solutions within your system, but it's not an MVP in the S sense of an incomplete solution that could do harm. So let's just talk, talk about that a little bit.
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Speaker 2: Yeah. Um, tell me a little bit more about what you mean when you're describing an MVP in a healthcare innovation setting because it could take so many different directions, right? Solution versus a mobile application. What do you have in mind when you were asking about MVPs?
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Speaker 1: So, you know, I think that that in itself is part of the discussion is that, uh, I think that, you know, as we bring MVP idea from other industries, right? Steve blank, you know, Eric Reese with the, you know, the lean startup model, um, you know, and bring that into health care for us to be able to innovate faster in the industry. I'm seeing a backlash of, of like, Ooh, I don't know. We can't, you know, that works in other industries that doesn't work in healthcare because we can't do MVP. And so I think kind of redefining what MVP is for healthcare. Um, and to your point, an MVP for a AI solution may be very different than an MVP for a medical device solution. Right,
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Speaker 2: right. No, I think that's a very relevant question that you're asking. Um, and it's, it's making me think of what type of yeah. Setting or what type of support and involvement can we provide from a hospital system, um, to take on MVPs even at the early stage that could be refined further and developed with a degree of safety into something that we would include in our clinical workflow or administrative workflow. And the reason I mentioned the word setting is because we are in the process of launching an innovation center in downtown Baltimore partnership between LifeBridge health, the hospital system and care first blue cross blue shield of Maryland, which is a dominant tear in our region. And so we are combining together to provide a physical space. This will have 11,000 square feet with room for up to 30 startups. I'm really excited about the center.
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It's going to launch in about three months. April in Baltimore. It's going to bring startups and jobs to Baltimore and it's also going to bring us a lot of MVPs is more appropriate in that setting because it's not in a hospital. Immediately. I think of this innovation center as a testing ground where we will interact with these 30 startups over time and come up with solutions that required clinical validation. We can bring our doctors to the innovation center or bring the entrepreneurs into our hospital to learn more about what the pain points are, what the major challenges are. But what's really crucial is that we also have the pair in the innovation center to help the entrepreneurs think about reimbursement and who's actually going to pay for your product is a troop tent.
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Speaker 1: And we don't see that enough. We really don't.
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Speaker 2: Is it the hospital system or if it be insurance, so they're going to be a billable code for your product. Um, so I think that type of innovation center is the perfect environment for testing MVPs. We're finding them or rejecting them if they don't make sense. And I do want to add that we're going to have a model clinic in our innovation center as well that will have a sample inpatient exam room, a inpatient room and a fat well outpatient ambulatory exam room as well. So startup entrepreneurs can literally bring in their devices or sensors or wearables and talk to doctors and nurses to understand how does my product fit into the clinical workflow and patient experience. So I think that could be, I hope, a great way for us to test these MVPs and not have that traditional message where we're just putting our hands up and saying, we can't deal with this. We're not ready for it. Where it's just not the right environment.
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Speaker 1: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think that's a beautiful example. I can't wait to see what you guys put together. Um, you know, one other thing that I just want to say about the MVP, um, is that this morning I was
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Speaker 2: at a meeting with the care first team and we were picking out the furniture and initiatives for the innovation centers. So we're pretty close. We're in January now and practice to be open in early April and we'd love for you to come and visit us.
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Speaker 1: I would love to visit. I would love to see it, especially with the payers involved with the whole innovation development process. Again, I don't see that enough and it's a, it's a critical stakeholder group in that equation. Right. Um, so you know, just kind of going back to the MVP thing again is that, you know, in my mind when I describe NVP, I'm thinking of something that is minimum viable solution, right? It is solving a problem, but in it's minimal state. So there could be tons of other features and functionality that could be added, some bells and whistles. Um, but that if, if an innovator doesn't go out and validate the value proposition, right, the product market fit of the initial problem, it doesn't make sense to add all those other features and functionality and we can do this and we can do this and we can do this all based upon assumptions. So it's not a a half-baked solution. It's a fully baked solution in the sense of, um, of an MVP. So there's no danger in it, but it's not something that will solve all the problems that you would have for the next three to five years. That's something that we can add later. Right.
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Speaker 2: And in some instances, that actually might be more of an advantage that we're starting off with a smaller set of solutions rather than trying to boil the ocean. Because let's not forget the elephant in the room when we're talking about technology and how we already have electronic medical records systems through the large players like earner Epic, that health system have health systems have invested millions of dollars and effort trying to leverage those solutions as well and trying to integrate things like AI or predictive algorithms to try to leverage the investment that we have already made. So you're absolutely right, dr Roxy, that sometimes they may be more advantageous or start off to begin with just a smaller set of solutions that perhaps our EMR is unable to provide today. Or maybe it addresses a key need for our physicians because there's too many buttons or too many screens and too much navigation involved and it's just not efficient. So better to start with a smaller set of really valuable solutions. And then over time I've seen this, then they can expand and add those bells and whistles to the solution.
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Speaker 1: Yeah. Because you as the health system may not want all my other ideas. Um, and if I don't have to spend the time and the money, I get to market faster. And I get to use the money that I didn't spend on all the bells and whistles to actually go to market.
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Speaker 2: I have to have that type of long-term vision as an entrepreneur because just because life which helps us and want all the bells and whistles doesn't mean that another hospital system down the street may not be super interested in that type of solution.
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Speaker 1: Yup. Yup. So I'm going to take your mobile phone sound as our cue to wrap up episode here today. Um, I just wanna give you one opportunity to say in all the lessons that you've learned over the last few years and working with startups and innovating internally within the health system. Um, is there anything else that you would want to share with our listeners?
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Speaker 2: Yeah, my last word would be, um, have hope and retain your optimism because we really do need that in our healthcare industry with the macro trends of the costs of healthcare in this country. They are not sustainable, uh, with an rapidly aging population. We have more chronic conditions, more comorbidities. Um, at the same time we have this tremendous revolution in, uh, automation, machine learning, digitalization. So sometimes it can you possible to lose faith and lose hope because of the slow purchasing cycles and the bureaucracies and the challenges of our industry. But my main message would be don't lose optimism. Don't lose your sense of hope. We need disruption sometimes in a major base, sometimes in an incremental way. But keep bringing your ideas to us. Uh, hospitals need your energy and your talent and your technology.
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Speaker 1: Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with our listeners. I so appreciate your time today. And so how can they get ahold of you if somebody has some questions, they have something they want to present to you, what's the best way to stay connected with you?
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Speaker 2: Absolutely. You can connect with us on the LifeBridge health website, which is LifeBridge health.org/innovation or you can reach out to me on LinkedIn. My name is Pothik Chattergee. I'm fairly active. We published some of our articles and some of our innovation events on that platform, but we would love to hear from you and engage with you, so reach out.
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Speaker 1: Wonderful. Thank you so much.
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