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3 Ways Your Health System Can Invest in Innovation

By Philip Betbeze  
   May 10, 2018

Starting with an idea on the back of a napkin in 2012, ProMedica Innovations helps ProMedica Health System rise above its competitors and brings a development boost to an economically challenged region.

Hospitals and health systems often struggle with innovation, and what innovation means.

At Toledo, Ohio-based ProMedica Health System, it means developing an internal arm to fund early-stage health-related companies where it can serve as the lead, or the follow-on investor.

Some of the innovation ideas are sourced from ProMedica's employees, and some are early-stage healthcare companies started outside of ProMedica. The ideas have the potential to improve healthcare and generate investments to an economically depressed region.

The nine-person executive team at ProMedica Innovations says three factors helped them integrate innovation into the health system's mission. Here's how your health system can do it.

1. Make innovation a core value

ProMedica spent a lot of time and effort developing and defining its core values, starting with input from its employees. The 13-hospital nonprofit health system, which covers northwest Ohio and southern Michigan, defined four core values: compassion, teamwork, excellence, and innovation. Executives credit employees with the genesis of the venture arm.

"If you asked every health system what you mean by innovation, you'd get a different answer at every one," says John Pigott, MD, chief innovation officer with the venture arm. "But we invest in our employees' ideas, and they voted on innovation becoming one of our core values."

ProMedica Innovations started with an idea on the back of a napkin in 2012, says James Richardson, a financial analyst and investment associate at the venture fund.

"One of our huge advantages is we get a first look at the technology and often proprietary, best-in-class care, so there's a financial upside, but also the confidence that we can hit ProMedica's mission, not just with specific technologies but also trends," Richardson says. "There's a gap in the financing sector in that seed financing can be difficult, so we fit that niche."

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.

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