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Dome - Smart solutions

April 2012

Smart solutions

Date: April 11, 2012

Johns Hopkins Medicine offers proven problem-solving programs on new e-commerce site.


Hanan Aboumatar and Mark Cochran display a perioperative handoff protocol that Hopkins is marketing to health care providers.
Hanan Aboumatar and Mark Cochran display a perioperative handoff protocol that Hopkins is marketing to health care providers.

When Hopkins anesthesiologist Michelle Petrovic spoke recently to hospital leaders about the surgical handoff system she helped develop, she described the complexity of transferring patients from the operating room to their next destination. Moving a patient to the intensive care unit or post anesthesia care unit, she reminded them, can require attending physicians, interns, nurses, surgeons, anesthesiologists and technicians who are all charged with communicating vital information in surroundings rich with distractions.

“Perioperative handoffs pose more risks for errors than many handoffs because they involve multidisciplinary interactions,” Petrovic told listeners from around the country during an informational webinar. “The toolkit we’ve created offers a five-step process that improves information sharing and also levels the playing field between practitioners.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine is selling a 25-page handbook and 18-minute video package fashioned from a 2009 pilot study of the handoff protocol used in The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s cardiac surgical intensive care unit. Since then, the approach has become the standard of care for all adult perioperative handoffs at the hospital.

Priced at $975, the Perioperative Handoff Tool Kit is one of five intellectual property products that Hopkins now offers through Medimetrix Solutions Exchange (MX.com) an online health care marketplace. Referred to as the “Amazon.com of health care solutions,” MX.com offers hospitals and health care systems an opportunity to buy and sell health care management tools, organizational protocols, educational materials and care guidelines that help increase patient safety, track hospital errors and reduce patient readmissions.

Because the Affordable Care Act requires hospitals to revamp aspects of their health care delivery, many may seek out proven methods of problem-solving, says Mark Cochran, managing director of Johns Hopkins HealthCare Solutions. “Everyone is looking for solutions that are already in use at a place like Hopkins to improve patient care or administrative practice while lowering costs,” he points out.

Cochran says the mission of the Solutions group, a division of Johns Hopkins HealthCare, is to bring faculty “best practices” to wider audiences. To achieve that, the group has three areas of focus. One is to identify successful health care programs at Hopkins, like the Perioperative Handoff Kit, then package and market them so that other health care providers can easily adopt them. Another focus is developing and marketing Hopkins-branded health information for consumers and professionals, an area that includes the POC-IT clinical decision support guides for antibiotics, HIV and diabetes.

The division also manages and grows Hopkins’ partnerships with private industry, such as the 2011 agreement with Walgreens to review the protocols used in its Take Care Clinics, and the new initiative with longtime partner Healthways to develop a commercial version of the call center-directed weight-loss program created by a research team from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

 “We want to extend good quality health care to the community while also finding ways to make the most out of our best science,” says Cochran. A Ph.D. trained in molecular biology, the managing director has worked in basic and applied research and in drug discovery and development, as well as in business development and venture capital.

Along with managing and expanding existing business partnerships, Cochran is charged with determining which best practices at Hopkins might also be marketed to the nation’s 5,800 other hospitals and medical centers.

A novel business arrangement

Medimetrix Solutions Exchange was established in 2010 as an e-commerce platform focusing on “peer-to-peer” health care solutions. Last year, Johns Hopkins Medicine signed an agreement to provide the Exchange with health care solutions and intellectual property pioneered at Hopkins. The institution receives royalties on sales of its solutions and holds equity in the firm. Other solution providers in the Florida-based company include Duke Medicine, Adventist Health System in Florida, Partners HealthCare (founded by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital) and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

In addition to the Perioperative Handoff Toolkit, Hopkins is selling its management program for caring for chronically ill older adults; a hospitalist engagement and retention survey and report that hospitals can use to help keep these in-patient specialists; a due diligence assessment guide; and a blueprint for developing business plans that helps hospital leadership determine how to allocate resources for their institutions.

Hopkins products presently on the Exchange range in price from $500 for the due diligence guide to $2,500 for the hospitalist survey. Hopkins will receive the majority of money from any sale, according to Cochran. “We try to drive as much of the royalty as possible back to the departments and divisions that originated the solutions,” he says. “The rest gets used institutionally.”

The perioperative handoff protocol is based on research conducted by Petrovic, Hanan Aboumatar, an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, and anesthesiologist Elizabeth Martinez, formerly of Hopkins. It improves patient safety by systematically guiding how providers exchange technology and information and also fulfills the Joint Commission’s handoff criteria for hospitals it accredits.

Among those participating in the online informational webinar were physicians, nurses, hospital administrators and quality improvement leaders from hospital systems and acute medical centers in Louisiana, Mississippi, California, Idaho, Minnesota and Georgia.

MX.com founder and CEO Joseph Davis says it may take as long as six months for an interested shopper to make a purchase. “In health care, potential buyers need to secure approval for something from their leadership as well as find a way to work it into their budgets.”

Hopkins plans to supply MX.com with at least ten new “solutions” every year. Cochran says the arrangement is another example of how Johns Hopkins Medicine is expanding the communities it serves. “Typically, hospital and medical practices are geographically based,” he says. “Now we’re furthering our mission by putting solutions on the Internet that may benefit people throughout the world.”

—Linell Smith

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