Regional One Health

Regional One Health’s chief executive officer, Dr. Reginald Coopwood, doesn’t hesitate to say that the nation’s health care system is resistant to change.

Disrupting that normal environment to become a gateway for entrepreneurial-minded staff among its nearly 3,000-person workforce and for entrepreneurs elsewhere with potential solutions to health care’s problems is the strategy behind a new Regional One Health Center for Innovation in Memphis.

Whether it’s technicians, nurses, doctors or others working at Regional One, or entrepreneurs throughout Memphis, Nashville or elsewhere, the innovation center’s door is open, said its executive director, Scott Vogel.

“If they have a solution to offer that’s going to improve the care of patients here, or improve costs, or even get our patients engaged in their health care, then we want to see it,” Vogel said.

For staff ideas, the center will take on development costs, have some ownership and potentially earn revenue if the concepts prove marketable, Coopwood and Vogel said. A nurse developing technology or a process to make bedside care easier and safer is an example.

“There enough that we’ve just seen of ideas from staff that give us enough to do to start the process,” Coopwood said.

For outside entrepreneurs, Regional One can provide the real-world environment for testing new products and ideas, the executives said. The system, with the Regional Medical Center located near Downtown at its core, can become the first customer for those fledgling companies that prove their products improve health care.

“And ideally take potentially some equity in that company for helping them lift themselves up,” Vogel said. “So we’re looking at innovation as a potential revenue opportunity, but first and foremost is being able to serve patients,” he said.

A unique service at Regional One’s innovation center will be for investors, like those who invest in medical device startups attracted to Memphis Bioworks and other accelerator programs, Vogel said.

Investors can steer part of their investment to Regional One’s center to help examine and test entrepreneurs’ concepts in the health care system.

“We’re going to provide them access and if the solution works, we’re going to buy it, so we will be their first customer,” Vogel said. “So we’re going to have the investors actually invest in us to help vet some of their ideas to reduce the risk.”

Two companies that honed products in Memphis medical device accelerator competitions — Restore Medical Solutions and LineGard Med — will be among the first to work with the new innovation center, the Regional One executives said.

In an online survey of health care organization innovation centers last year by The Commonwealth Fund, half of 33 that responded had started up since the Affordable Care Act’s passage in 2010.

Medical care and health outcomes ranked as the most common projects for the centers, followed by patient engagement or experience and efficiency. Funding was the most common barrier.

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