Health Innovation Flourishes in a ‘Structured Unstructured Alliance’

Mark S. Smith, MD, director of the MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2), shared the stage on opening day of the 6th annual mHealth Summit, being held in National Harbor through Dec. 11, to share insights from MI2’s experience working with partners 1776 and Booz Allen Hamilton to create a vibrant innovation community. “We have tried to create an ‘unstructured structured alliance’ in which each of our needs and strengths is complemented by the others to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts,” said Smith.

MI2 was chartered in 2009 to catalyze innovation by tapping into the creative talent and ideas throughout MedStar Health. In 2014, MedStar expanded its innovation reach by becoming a Founding Partner of 1776, the Washington-based startup incubator.

One of MI2’s principles for catalyzing innovation is looking beyond health care to the ideas and successes in other industries. Another principle is to seek out partners with common values and complementary strengths, summed up by the African proverb, “If you want to travel fast, go alone; if you want to go travel far, go together.” These principles were discussed during the “fireside chat” between Smith, Karen Dahut, executive vice president, Booz Allen Hamilton and David Zipper, managing director of the startup incubator 1776 Ventures.

“At the foundation of all successful alliances there has to be a personal relationship and a deep level of trust,” said Smith.

Coinciding with the mHealth Summit, several innovative startups at 1776 announced new projects they are initiating at MedStar Health.

MedStar will be using Ostendio’s MyVCM™ platform to ensure that MedStar’s innovative health IT vendors are managing sensitive health data in a responsible and compliant manner. MyVCM™ will help MedStar assess vendors’ security risk, create and manage critical policies and procedures, and monitor continuous compliance with industry regulations. The MedStar-Ostendio relationship, brokered by MI2, is one of the first to emerge under MedStar’s Founding Partnership with 1776. By harnessing Ostendio’s innovative tool, MedStar will be able to view vendors’ compliance status in real-time and facilitate ongoing security assessments – a major priority for MedStar Health to ensure all information security and other regulatory requirements are met.

A second announcement was made concerning Babyscripts™, a service product of the 1776-startup 1EQ, which will extend prenatal care beyond the office visit by using an app to monitor a pregnant woman’s weight gain and blood pressure, and share that data with her provider. MedStar will implement Babyscripts™ as a 60 patient roll-out at three hospitals with the intent to expand to all 10 MedStar hospitals.

The 2014 mHealth Summit, the global convener of the expanding mobile health ecosystem, is focused on exploring the disruptions, challenges and opportunities of integrating mobile and wireless technologies into the healthcare system, and in consumer and patient engagement, for better health outcomes.

In addition to MedStar Health, the mHealth Summit includes leaders from Walgreens, Massachusetts General Hospital, IBM, Samsung, Pfizer, Qualcomm, National Institutes of Health, USAID, Kaiser Permanente, Verizon, US Food and Drug Administration, Mayo Clinic and the US Department of Health and Human Services.

About the MedStar Institute for Innovation

MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2) was chartered by Ken Samet, President and CEO of MedStar Health, in 2009 and serves as a catalyst and seed crystal for innovation across the entire MedStar organization. The mission of MI2 is to catalyze innovation that advances health; its mantra is “Think Differently.” MI2’s foundational premises are: 1. A huge amount of untapped and undertapped creative and intellectual energy exists at MedStar; 2. the tyranny of the daily trumps the pursuit of the remarkable (…in the absence of a countervailing force). MI2’s scope includes initiatives in human factors engineering, education and simulation training, information infrastructure, technology development and commercialization, and processes and systems of care delivery. Visit

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