A digital program that can assess the health of hospital patients, developed by a startup company housed within ProMedica’s Medical Technology Business Incubator, may have the potential to significantly reduce the number of patients who find themselves back in the hospital soon after being discharged.
The startup, Homeward Healthcare LLC, is one of two companies housed in ProMedica’s new business incubator.
The incubator, part of the health system’s larger Pro-Medica Innovations, opened about three months ago and has room for two more companies, though officials hope to expand its size in the future.
“We’re not just putting a for rent sign out front. We have to be pretty selective of the people coming in,” said Justin Hammerling, innovations officer for ProMedica Innovations. “We don’t make money on the rent. The goal of the incubator is for these companies to be successful, and grow, and better the clinical practices and outcomes, and better the region.”
Initially the incubator was proposed to focus on in-house ideas, but Mr. Hammerling said there was such interest that officials decided to open it up to any local medical field startups, although it has a narrow focus: companies have to have a product that can improve patient care and they have to be locally committed.
Homeward Healthcare fits the criteria.
Hospital re-admissions already cost the healthcare industry $25 billion annually and a breakthrough in reducing them could save the U.S. healthcare system hundreds of millions of dollars while simultaneously improving a patient’s long-term outcome.
Homeward Healthcare developed an interactive, tablet-based program that gives patients important information while also asking a series of questions about things such as their support system, lifestyle, diet, and mental state.
“You can be predictive in the way you address a patient’s recovery plan if you know more about the risk indicators in their psycho-social setting,” Homeward Healthcare Chief Executive Joe Gough said in a recent interview.
Importantly, patients’ specific answers aren’t shared. Instead, care managers are given a general report of risks and special circumstances.
Homeward Healthcare was launched less than three years ago, but its Digital Discharge program already has been implemented in 23 hospitals after a successful pilot test at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Mich.
Hurley reduced its re-admissions in congestive heart failure patients by 47 percent during the trial. Overall, there was a 33 percent decline in re-admissions compared with the previous baseline. Hurley ultimately bought the system.
Homeward Health’s system now is scheduled to be tested at ProMedica.
The other company in the incubator is VentureMed Group, a medical device maker founded by ProMedica vascular surgeon Dr. John Pigott.
Dr. Pigott, who also serves as ProMedica’s chief innovations officer, said one of the key things for both ProMedica Innovations and the incubator is fostering connections.
“We’ve helped innovators in here access the Cleveland Clinic Innovations and [provided] access to the research program at Toledo Hospital for clinical outcomes. We’ve got connections with a lot of the companies around the area,” he said.
Mr. Pigott’s device essentially is a catheter that can unblock leg arteries. He said it is significantly more affordable than similar devices and drastically cuts down on time needed in the operating room.
ProMedica hosted an openhouse of its incubator Thursday evening. Officials were expecting upward of 160 guests.