How Mount Sinai is transforming innovation

Digital innovation demands more than funding and a shiny piece of technology. From sparking a new idea, to developing a blueprint, introducing the technology to clinicians and then bringing it to patients, the entire transformation process requires dedication and a passion for healthcare.  

Ashish Atreja, MD, is among those dedicated to innovation and patient care. Along with service as a professor and gastroenterology physician, Dr. Atreja is the chief innovation officer at Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine in New York City. His experience as a physician gives him a unique perspective on innovation. 

"Because I am a physician, I am able to see gaps in healthcare that others might not," Dr. Atreja said. "I have the opportunity to truly address these gaps." 

These gaps in the healthcare ecosystem are what Dr. Atreja tries to fill within the patient engagement group, known as AppLab, at Mount Sinai. The three pillars of the lab, co-ideate, co-create and co-validate, support AppLab's initiatives. Specifically, the AppLab serves as a center for digital medicine. 

To foster innovation, Dr. Atreja understands the importance of not just developing new technology but scaling it. 

"As I've had this role, I've learned that to make innovation wholesome you must have the element of transformation," he said. "If you create something and it works, it's really your responsibility to meaningfully partner with other departments and organizations to ensure that patients are touched by the innovation. Innovation and transformation really go hand in hand."  

Taking innovations to the finish line can be difficult. Leaders must develop partnerships, whether internally and externally. The technology also needs funding to take it to the next level. 

Additionally, innovation shouldn’t be limited. Rather, it should be explored by everyone at a hospital or health system. 

"Innovation comes from all over the place," Dr. Atreja said. "Many people say it starts with the CEO, but that's not the case at all. Innovation comes from all areas of the business. But there needs to an organized process to filter down the ideas from highest priority and most valuable to lower priority ideas." 

Over the past few months, Mount Sinai has announced and launched various innovation efforts. In November, the medical school unveiled an iPhone app that offers precision wellness tracking. Additionally, HHS granted Mount Sinai $3 million to build a "big omics data engine."

On a personal side, Mount Sinai launched its Diversity and Inclusion Hub, which researchers will use technology and data to address social determinants of health. The hub is not only serving as an incubator for new ways to address health disparities, but also aims to diversify healthcare innovation. 

More articles on innovation:
What makes the most innovative companies stand out? Collaboration, strategic hiring, long-term focus
Hackensack Meridian innovation 'Bear's Den' invests in biotech startup
6 quotes about hospital innovation at CommonSpirit, ProMedica & more

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