In 2014, OSF HealthCare became a founding member of MATTER, a Chicago-based incubator for medical innovation, with the goal of putting us on the front lines of health care technology development. In just three short years of this relationship, our partnership has produced hundreds of introductions and dozens of relationships with startup companies focused on solving health care’s most complex problems.
Dr. Richard Vazquez of SafeStart Surgical was one of the first entrepreneurs the OSF Innovation Partnerships team met through our relationship with MATTER. Dr. Vazquez, a Chicago surgeon, developed an application called SafeStart, a surgical safety solution aiming to end “never events,” or preventable errors in care in the operating room.
The idea is to hard wire surgical safety into the entire surgery planning process. Because of OSF Innovation’s connection to the overall OSF HealthCare strategy, specifically patient safety and improved outcomes, we were certainly interested in what SafeStart could do.
How SafeStart Works
SafeStart moves the surgical consent and the beginning of the patient safety process, from the pre-op area back to the surgery clinic where these important steps can be done safely. Patient safety data such as the procedure type, patient identifiers, surgical site, allergies and more are collected in the clinic and stored on SafeStart’s secure servers.
Additionally, the SafeStart patient portal enables patient involvement by allowing them to certify that all data is correct from the comfort of their own home. Here, patients are able to verify or reject the data in the system. This data is again verified in the pre-op area with the patient and in the operating room as part of the surgical safety checklist. All of this creates a system that enhances patient safety and can improve efficiency in the surgery process as well.
As part of the larger OSF Innovation effort, the Innovation Partnership team is connected to subject matter experts (SMEs) throughout our Ministry. A significant part of the Partnership’s vetting process involves getting detailed feedback on innovation solutions from the appropriate SMEs on proposed solutions, workflows and anticipated outcomes.
When Dr. Richard Pearl, Chief of Pediatric Surgery at OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois, reviewed the SafeStart solution, he was immediately interested. After many discussions about the best way to test SafeStart’s solution at OSF, a research project was born.
Soon, Dr. Pearl and his team, alongside Dr. Vazquez and Jim Anfield of SafeStart, had developed a protocol for a clinical trial which would include 100 pediatric general surgery patients at the Children’s Hospital. This Peoria Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved research study was launched in October of 2016 and completed in March of 2017. From here, SafeStart will be evaluated for a larger implementation.
Benefits of Partnership
The story of SafeStart and OSF Innovation is an excellent example of how an integrated health care system-based innovation program, through a partnership with an active business incubator like MATTER, can work with startup companies to improve care for patients.
OSF Innovation Partnership’s process of mentoring early startups, vetting those with viable products and finding the best path for integration into our health system opens a front door for external innovation to make its way into our system. We may find ways for companies to work on product development, clinical research, the development of pilots or evaluate them for larger implementations. All of this is done with our strategy in mind, our Mission as our focus and our patients at its core.