Why health IT innovation in Cleveland is unlike 'anywhere else in the world': 3 Qs with Cleveland Clinic Innovations' new leader 

As its newest executive director, D. Geoffrey Vince, PhD, is spearheading Cleveland Clinic Innovations as the commercialization unit undergoes a strategy restructuring and backs the system's health IT expansions. 

Dr. Vince, who was appointed to the newly founded role May 26, has served as chair of the biomedical engineering department within Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute for the past decade. As an inventor, he holds 12 patents and several U.S. Department of Defense grants for his research laboratory. 

As he embarks on the new role, Dr. Vince told Becker's the thing he is most excited about as executive director is "being in Cleveland." Fresh off the launch of a new multimillion-dollar innovation district in the city and a 10-year AI and cloud computing partnership with IBM, Cleveland Clinic is poised to make big strides in the healthcare innovation space. 

"One of the phrases we use a lot at the Clinic is 'patients first,' — and that applies to research as well and what we do in tech," Dr. Vince said. "Our goal is to take technologies that we develop here at Cleveland Clinic and bring them to market. We've been very focused on medical devices, which we will continue to do so, but I think we have an opportunity to branch out into therapeutics and health IT."

Since being established in 2000, Cleveland Clinic Innovations has helped launch more than 80 startup companies and commercialized numerous medical breakthrough interventions in patient care. 

Dr. Vince shared some of his top priorities as he takes on the executive director role and the current innovations that excite him the most. 

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length. 

Question: What are some of your top priorities as executive director of Cleveland Clinic Innovations? 

Dr. D. Geoffrey Vince: We're restructuring the way innovation is running at the Cleveland Clinic. The model that we have, although it worked well, is not really scalable for where we want to go. So, we've broken it down into more of a product development type of approach to implementing innovations. 

With respect to specific projects, we have a number of irons in the fire. We're focusing on therapeutics and health IT. The Lerner Research Institute, where I am housed, has a small molecule facility that can generate new pharmaceutical compounds. We have three or four irons in the fire, but unfortunately because of patents I can't talk specifics about them. But we have some exciting therapeutics in development, and we're looking to really bring these forward in a much more rapid manner than therapeutics typically are since it usually takes considerably longer than medical devices due to all the regulatory hurdles. 

Q: What digital transformation initiatives or topics are you most excited about right now? 

DGV: I'm excited to be in Cleveland. I'm not a native Clevelander, but I think it's an exciting time to be here because of our innovation district. We partnered with Jobs Ohio, and we're working with IBM now on the quantum computer, which is more than just a quantum computer. We have access to high-performing computing and the cloud. I think as we're developing our technologies, particularly in the IT space, I think being in Cleveland is what excites me the most because we're going to have access to so many resources that are literally not available anywhere else in the world. 

Q: What do you most hope to get out of your experience being executive director of the innovations unit?

DGV: It all comes back to helping patients. That's the reason why we have an innovations office. We have some of the best physicians, scientists and engineers in the world right here in Cleveland who come up with brilliant ideas every day. And we need a way of bringing these to the market to help patients today and in the future. We want to reduce healthcare costs if we can come up with a less expensive way of doing something. We need to innovate around what we traditionally do but then also look at new avenues that we can explore to impact patient care. 

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