Mayo Spinoff HB Healthcare Safety Lands $200K Rochester City Subsidy
A Mayo Clinic doctor and engineer cited as one of the top patient safety experts in the country landed a $200,000 economic development subsidy from the city of Rochester to fund the growth of her web-based hospital analytics company.
Jeanne Huddleston, M.D., an associate professor of medicine and the medical director of Mayo’s healthcare systems engineering, is also the founder of HB Healthcare Safety SBC, which launched last year in the city. The start-up offers a commercialized version of the machine-learning data analysis tool she and colleagues developed to address unexpected patient deaths in Mayo hospitals.
Huddleston is Mayo’s first “hospitalist” – a physician whose professional focus is on the general medical care of hospitalized patients – and her interests in that field led her to obtain an engineering degree so that she could integrate big data concepts into efforts to predict and avoid such “adverse events” as patient deaths and misdiagnoses.
According to its website, HBHS “arose out of a desperate need to turn process failure and adverse event data into actionable information.” Its system takes stories of patient deaths and hospital system failures and interprets them with data by using a propriety information technology solution.
The result is its web-based Safety Learning System, which the company touts as enabling hospitals to tackle “adverse events” like patient deaths, and helping overcome obstacles such as overtaxed doctors and nurses and organizational reluctance to change.
While Huddleston’s work in patient safety has earned her recognition as an emerging global leader in the field, she is also visible as one of the leading voices for the innovation and commercialization movements within Mayo. For instance, she serves as the medical director for the Mayo Think Big Challenge, in which a health care entrepreneur is selected to commercialize a Mayo technology and is granted a residency.
The $200,000 subsidy from Rochester’s Economic Development Fund was approved by the City Council earlier this month after being submitted by Rochester Area Economic Development Inc. (RAEDI), which administers the program and is closely connected with efforts to spin off Mayo research into new local businesses.
RAEDI officials strongly backed Huddleston’s request for a subsidy, citing roughly 400,000 American lives lost each year due to adverse hospital events and diagnostic errors. At the same time, they praised HBHS’ solution, which “provides a tool that addresses data gathering, analytics, interpretation and data visualization” and allows users to “prioritize health care quality improvement initiatives that make significant difference in lives of patients.”
RAEDI said the technology was invented at Mayo Clinic and has been licensed for commercialization by Huddleston’s startup. She and the company founders have invested $220,000 of their own money to develop the initial version of the Safety Learning System, and since then it has been adopted by eight U.S. health care organizations who are each paying $10,000, and is now deployed in 21 hospitals.
The subsidy will be used by HBHS to hire its first full-time employee in the fourth quarter of 2016; continue the development of the system; and release an updated version in the first quarter of 2017 with additional features, including data analysis and report generation.