Hospital innovation skyrockets in 2021: 10 notable initiatives from Northwell, Cleveland Clinic & more

Several hospitals and health systems accelerated innovation efforts this year, from spinning out new artificial intelligence-powered healthcare companies to inking collaborations focused on digital health, hospital-at-home offerings and data analytics. 

Here are 10 of the biggest healthcare innovation projects that hospitals and health systems rolled out in 2021, as reported by Becker's Hospital Review

Editor's note: Innovation initiatives are listed in the order as reported by Becker's. 

1. Trinity Health and 13 more health systems reenvision healthcare data analytics. In February, 14 health systems teamed up to form Truveta, a deidentified clinical data platform that pools information on participating care sites to glean insights on medical conditions such as COVID-19. The platform went live in November and has raised $200 million to continue building out its capabilities. 

2. Cleveland Clinic accelerates AI and cloud computing innovation. In March, Cleveland Clinic inked a 10-year partnership with IBM to create a joint accelerator center for healthcare AI and cloud computing innovations. The accelerator also supports the health system's Global Center for Pathogen Research and Human Health, which the Cleveland Clinic launched this year through the $500 million Cleveland Innovation District, which is also backed by the state of Ohio and JobsOhio. 

3. Intermountain Healthcare, Ascension and Amazon partner on hospital at home. Salt Lake City-based Intermountain and Ascension teamed up with Amazon Care in March to launch a new coalition focused on expanding home-based clinical care. The group, named Moving Health Home, supports and updates healthcare policy changes to designate the home as a site of clinical service. 

4. Ascension doles out $285 million for innovation investments. The St. Louis-based health system's venture arm Ascension Ventures in March closed a $285 million strategic venture capital fund, bringing the firm's total assets to more than $1 billion. The fund is backed by 13 health systems, including Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based AdventHealth and Charlotte, N.C.-based Novant Health. 

5. UPMC applies AI to tackle healthcare data challenges. The Pittsburgh health system in June formed an AI and natural language processing company, dubbed Realyze Intelligence, focused on identifying specific patient populations and linking patients to most beneficial treatments. 

6. Prisma Health zeroes in on healthcare innovation and workforce development. The Greenville, S.C.-based health system in June formed a 10-year strategic partnership with Siemens Healthineers. Under the collaboration, Prisma deployed Siemens' medical technologies across its care network and formed an Intelligence Insights Center, focused on innovation in clinical service delivery, technology, advanced analytics and computer-aided workflow tools. 

7. Kaiser Permanente and Mayo Clinic lead hospital-at-home charge. Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic and Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente in October launched the Advanced Care at Home Coalition alongside partner Medically Home Group, a Boston-based tech services company that powers hospital-at-home programs. Eleven additional hospitals and health systems are members of the innovation coalition, which aims to advocate for support of hospital-level care-at-home flexibilities after the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

8. Northwell Health bets big on AI. In October, the New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based health system teamed up with startup studio Aegis Ventures to launch an initiative to create AI companies. As part of the partnership with Northwell, Aegis plans to invest at least $100 million of seed-stage funds in companies focused on solving healthcare equity, costs and quality challenges. 

9. Atrium Health plans $1.5 billion innovation district. The Charlotte, N.C.-based health system unveiled plans this year to launch an innovation district surrounding its future medical school, the Wake Forest University School of Medicine Charlotte, slated to open in 2024. The district will include four research towers and an education building as well as mixed office, retail and housing space, the health system said in November. 

10. UC Davis Health and Amazon partner on digital health equity. UC Davis Health launched a cloud innovation center with Amazon Web Services in November as part of the Sacramento, Calif.-based health system's efforts to improve digital health innovation and equity. UC Davis Health and AWS staff will collaborate to identify challenges such as inequitable access to care, remote patient care and discrepancies in technology and will publish open-source results from research projects so others can learn from the findings.


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