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Cleveland Clinic Innovations (CCI) is an innovation incubator that commercializes medical devices, therapeutics and diagnostics, health information technology, and Delivery Solutions. CCI first began in 2000, when Cleveland Clinic noticed that a considerable number of valuable ideas were leaving the institution. This led to the decision to bring consulting firm Battelle to study the organization to find a way to retain this intellectual capital. The answer was creating an Innovations center to gather and foster ideas, inventions, and enterprise.
CCI is the birthplace of many innovative processes such as spinal cord injury recovery using nano particles and a potential prophylactic vaccine for breast cancer. The work done here has serious potential to change lives across the world.
One of CCI’s innovations currently being commercialized, through Centerline Biomedical, is IOPS. IOPS is groundbreaking technology that helps guide health practitioners through the vascular system, creating a 3D road map through the body during endovascular procedures. The idea was conceived after Dr. Roy K. Greenberg addressed the limitations of fluoroscopy, which included radiation and limited visualization of 2D images.
When the Director of Innovations Quality was asked to share a particular innovation she had been a part of, her face lit up and you could hear the excitement grow in her voice. She began to tell the story of an invention that came about from one of her personal mentors, Dr. Roy Greenberg. He was a renowned physician at Cleveland Clinic whose research group worked to improve tools used to perform endovascular surgery. The innovation, called IOPS, is a system that provides a live 3D road map of the human circulatory system during procedures such as placing stents and stent grafts.
The technology currently being used for these procedures is fluoroscopy, which has limited visualization of 2D images and emits harmful radiation to the patient being operated on, as well as the clinicians involved in the procedure. IOPS has created a technology to overlay images from a CT scan to create a real-time picture for the physician to visualize where his instrument is in respect to the vessels, with no additional harm to people in its vicinity. It has the capacity to self-correct erroneous movement and will react when hitting a vessel wall. This innovation decreases the risk of vascular dissection, along with other complications, and improves patient outcomes--something every healthcare facility strives for.
Walking through the halls of CCI, one can’t help but feel that exciting discoveries are being made right there in that moment. Employees gather in airy glass conference rooms discussing ideas and offices are bright and lived-in, creating an ideal setting for creativity. There is a palpable positive energy while observing staff members move about the building. The employees are motivated and inspired to find new ways of operating. Three individuals from across the organization were interviewed, one of whose work arguably sparked the idea for CCI itself, creating the first instance of image-guided technology for surgeries. He holds a passion for creating solutions to problems. Another consistently finds inspiration from young students in her classroom, as well as inventors and creative thinkers in the world around her. The final interviewee derives her inspiration from being able to see the path of change that innovations create for patient outcomes. This passion is likely why CCI is as successful as it is--creating space for multitudes of innovative ideas to become new ways of doing business.
Innovation submissions come directly from Cleveland Clinic employees. One interviewee shared this leadership lesson: "When an opportunity is presented to you, take it. Because what’s the worst that can happen? Either it doesn’t work out or you get something really good out of it.” It seems that this is the thought behind inviting ideas from Cleveland Clinic employees. There is the possibility that innovative ideas can come from the team and, at the very least, this invitation speaks to the inherent potential of the employees.
Once an idea is submitted, the Innovations team begins to design solutions to the problem: how it will be developed, tested, and applied with resources of engineers, physicians, and innovators with immense business acumen. CCI processes the potential industry-changing solutions from concept to early validation, licensing technology and finding investors along with way.
It’s evident that CCI is an environment for inspiration to run freely, so it’s no surprise that something like IOPS would be created here. The goal of any medical team is to be able to do their best to help patients and save lives; what better place to spark an idea for a tool that would improve how minimally-invasive surgeries are performed?
IOPS’ impact is seen in the improvement of the care that patients receive during surgery. Healthcare practitioners are able to practice at the top of their ability when they have access to technology that allows them to have clear visibility into the operative cavity during surgery. IOPS opens up a new arena for all non-invasive surgical procedures and is scalable to procedures beyond the vascular system to therapies of other body systems such as respiratory, digestive, or lymphatic.
The business benefits of CCI come from royalties from patented technologies, as well as equity stakes in spin-off companies. In this case, IOPS is currently housed by CCI-created Centerline Biomedical. CCI’s equity in Centerline Biomedical will generate revenue for CCI once IOPS is brought to market and widely used. While CCI incurs risk by using this business model with spin-off companies, it sets them up for higher reward. The commercialized innovations support a $6 million operation, and its revenue is reinvested into the Cleveland Clinic. By putting resources into the companies it creates, CCI can generate more revenue through the commercialization of its technology. It can then reinvest in its business operations, bringing other innovations to bear, and, of course, caring for patients.
While CCI is a thriving business, generating revenue in the commercialization of its products and solutions, the organization still holds the hospital’s intention at heart: providing every patient with world-class care. To quote one of our interviewee’s fathers, “Diseases are never pleasant, and medicine is never sweet.” This quip was the catalyst for this individual to become interested in the search for new and better, and it’s the same search for “sweeter” remedies that CCI ventures on every day to benefit not only its own patients, but patients around the world. The creation of IOPS would be a huge advancement in the surgical practices at Cleveland Clinic, and it would also be a huge asset to the practice of medicine at large. This commercialization would not just add a new product to the market, it would represent a new standard in medical intervention for patients everywhere.
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Charles Steiner, Suguna Rachakonda, Marcie Reilly, Manager, Innovations Operations; Sr. Director, Product Development, GCIC; Director, Innovations Quality
CCI delivers the critical mass needed to bring ground-breaking medical innovations to market. Our disciplined, collaborative, and multifaceted approach has established CCI as a recognized global leader in healthcare corporate venturing.