Cleveland Clinic, MedStar, others begin to monetize their innovation

Proprietary software developed by Pittsburgh-based UPMC uses available data to help physicians choose the lowest-cost option that produces a patient outcome equal to or better than the best outcome recorded in past case files. Physicians can then see their own results in comparison with results from their de-identified colleagues. The software cost UPMC an estimated $5 to $12 million to develop. However, the health system could recoup some of that outlay through its plan to sell the software to other providers.

UPMC is not the only provider looking to cash in on homespun innovation. Cleveland Clinic Innovations, a tech development hub within the health system, turns ideas culled from the organization's employees into usable and often marketable products. Since 2000, the center has spun out 66 companies that have received a total of more than $750 million in equity investment to date.

Cleveland Clinic also partners with other healthcare providers, such as Columbia, Md.-based MedStar Health, to similarly develop and sell new technology. Since 2009, the MedStar Institute for Innovation has been creating and sometimes commercializing new technologies based on ideas from health system employees to create an additional revenue stream for the organization, according to a report in The Washington Post.

It's a growing trend — UCSF's Center for Digital Health Innovation and Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital's iHub operate under a similar model. These centers aim to cash in on a native resource — employees' innovative ideas. "I think the theme is there's a huge amount of intellectual and creative talent capital in these large healthcare systems," MedStar Institute for Innovation director Mark Smith told the Post.

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