Starting in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Inception Health—Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin’s innovation hub—launched an at-home COVID-19 monitoring program. The company, owned by the Milwaukee-based health network, delivered kits with educational materials, face coverings and instructions on how to report health symptoms to Froedtert clinicians using an app for patients who tested positive for COVID-19 but didn’t have symptoms that warranted hospitalization.
Froedtert has sent kits to more than 20,000 patients and is studying to what extent the program prevented COVID-19 patients from being hospitalized.
Froedtert doesn’t measure return on investment for each project that Inception Health develops, but the kits are one example of a recent success.
It’s challenging to measure ROI for innovation centers, since returns tend to be a mix of cost savings, care delivery and operations improvements, and possibly commercialization, according to Rob Lowe, CEO of Wellspring, a software company that sells products for innovation and research and development programs.
He suggested hospitals commit to running an innovation center for at least three years, with the understanding it could take longer—five or even 10 years—to see a concrete return.
“An innovation center is not going to return all of the value in the first year,” Lowe said.
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It’s still the early days for AlphaLab Health, a healthcare and life sciences startup accelerator launched by Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Health Network and startup incubator Innovation Works, but startups have appreciated having a physical space to design and test their products. AlphaLab Health launched in fall 2020, but the accelerator space opened earlier this year.
Satya Venneti, chief technology officer and co-founder at one of the AlphaLab Health startups, said lab space has proven useful as a recording studio. She’s a founder of Telling.AI, a Pittsburgh-based startup developing an app to analyze lung health based on users’ voice and breath, so she often needs to conduct tests involving audio. The startup hopes to reduce readmissions and emergency department visits through remote monitoring.
One innovation that has grown in the Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center, an innovation center at Peoria, Illinois-based OSF HealthCare, involves training for residents that simulates placing a central venous catheter. The simulation training is credited with saving an estimated $5,600 per patient by reducing common complications.