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Eds and Meds

Activity post-bankruptcy

Pages 14 – 18

By Jacquie Goetz Bluethmann

Patients receiving care through Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) already know what innovation looks and feels like – not to mention what it conceals. Their very attire while in residence represents the promise the Henry Ford Innovation Institute holds. The hospital’s new patient gowns address the common complaint that typical hospital gowns fail to provide coverage where patients want it most.

Known as “Model G,” in honor of Henry Ford’s iconic Model T, the new gowns are the brainchild of HFHS staff and students from the College for Creative Studies working in collaboration through the Innovation Institute. The gowns are to be manufactured by Detroit-based Carhartt and will be available nationwide come early spring.

“The Henry Ford Innovation Institute is designed to rapidly assess ideas for innovation and then vet them for novelty, commercialization and intellectual property development,” explained Dr. Scott Dulchavsky, CEO at the Innovation Institute.

In the process, Dulchavsky maintains, the institute is helping to grow the local ecosystem.

“Once an innovation is to the point of being commercialized, we’ll work with – or even develop – a local company to fulfill the integration component if possible,” he said.

In addition to the hospital gowns, an interactive avatar designed as a patient education tool for new mothers is in the works. As is Stat Chat, a tool for multiple teams to communicate with one another more efficiently on a patient’s care. Both ideas were born of HFHS employees identifying an unmet need.

The entrepreneurial mindset fueling the Innovation Institute and the larger HFHS network is shared by the other major health care and educational institutions in town: the Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University. Ned Staebler, vice president at WSU’s Office of Economic Development, is excited to see the university’s efforts at driving economic growth take wing.

“We work to extrovert the university,” said Staebler, who was appointed this March as CEO of TechTown. “A university’s reputation is often that of an ivory tower – teaching, research – without a whole lot of regard for what’s happening in the community. We’re looking at how to get people on campus off campus, and people off campus onto campus.”

To that end, Staebler’s team focuses its efforts in three areas: place, business and talent. With regard to the former, his office is leading a group of stakeholders in the development of a public bike-sharing program for the city that’s planned to launch in spring 2016.

“This program is modeled after similar successful programs in cities around the world,” he explained. “The idea is that there will be stations around the city where people can check out bikes for point-to-point transportation. If you want to go to Belle Isle after work, you can check out a bike and leave it at a station there.”

Access to transportation is also evident in the arrival of Zipcar to Detroit. “The first two Zipcars in the city were on campus,” Staebler said. “We, with the help of Rock Ventures, pushed and pushed the conversation with Zipcar to expand elsewhere in the city. Now there are 40 some cars.”

In the area of business, the university saw its fourth cohort of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program start in February. “Approximately 100 small businesses have gone through it,” he said of the program that assists second-stage businesses.

Current WSU undergraduate and graduate students can find momentum for their entrepreneurial endeavors through the university’s LaunchPad program, too. “The program has helped start 137 companies in four years,” Staebler said. “We’ve vetted 445 new venture ideas from approximately 900 students.”

Businesses born from LaunchPad range from mobile apps and medical devices to tea and social ventures. “More than 70 companies that started through LaunchPad are now hiring and/or making revenue,” Staebler said.

The soon-to-be complete Multidisciplinary Biomedical Research Building near Tech Town may play a part in nurturing certain innovations born at WSU and helping them become commercial realities. The building’s official opening will take place in May or June and will be home to approximately 450 scientists.


DMC investments making an impact

For many reasons, DMC CEO Joe Mullany is enthused by the organization’s 2014 market share growth – not the least of which is its ability to be a good employer and a force for economic growth in the city.

“We take our responsibility as the city’s largest employer seriously,” he said.

“We encourage our employees to live here by subsidizing their housing.”

Mullany is referring to the Live Midtown program that provides incentives to employees of DMC, WSU and HFHS to rent or buy downtown.

“We’ve invested $200,000 a year into the program, and it has been such a successful one,” he said, noting that 364 DMC residents and nurses currently participate.

The DMC is driving economic development in other significant ways through major investments in Southeast Michigan, including a new $140 million patient tower at Children’s Hospital for which construction will commence this spring.

In addition, construction is underway for the new Troy Children’s Hospital of Michigan. This 60,000-square-foot facility will employ 100 people and represents a $42 million investment by the DMC. The facility will be complete by year’s end.

“We’ve had a real mindset change,” Mullany said. “We view ourselves as a leader in business development. That is not the view of most in health care nationally.”