UCHealth is planning to create an innovation center and work with medical technology start-up companies on artificial intelligence, big data, decision support, virtual health and wearables, among other technologies.

The nine-hospital Colorado delivery system, led by University of Colorado Hospital in Denver, seeks to build off its past experiences in working with innovative companies to improve the efficiency of operating rooms and the accuracy of medication prescribing. New efforts will include injecting new research and protocols into the electronic health records systems and using wearable devices to continuously monitor patient vital signs, executives say.

“We’re looking to work in digital health on remote monitoring of patients, prescriptive intelligence, how analytics are delivered and diagnostic prescriptive analytics that show the chances of a patient getting cancer and the recommended treatment course,” says Richard Zane, MD, chief innovation officer and an emergency specialist at UCHealth.

The project will use wearable medical-grade monitoring devices such as Fitbits and the Apple Watch to establish an accurate physiology of a patient, Zane explains. “The goal is to have the ability to build data science to improve decision making at the point of care.”

Richard Zane, MD
Richard Zane, MD

This fall, UCHealth expects to bring a team of 70 employees to the University of Colorado Innovations Office, an incubator commonly called CU-Innovation.

“This is where their jobs will be based,” Zane says. “Artificial intelligence, big data, decision support, virtual health and wearables are rapidly disrupting healthcare as we know it. We are committed to being at the forefront of this change and partnering with other innovators to improve the quality, experience and safety of healthcare while helping control costs.”

Zane’s personal wish list of what he wants to work on in Colorado includes leukemia, glucose management and behavioral health.

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A major project in Colorado will be designing the hospital room of the future with the ability to deliver centralized patient monitoring and clinical intelligence. A bedroom or nursing home could be turned into a mini hospital with high-fidelity wireless service and Generation 5 wireless communication.

By experimenting with virtual health options, wearable monitors and the electronic health record, healthcare organizations might be able to transform a patient’s bedroom into a space where medicine is delivered in a novel way that is both convenient and comforting, says Steve Hess, CIO at UCHealth.

“We are now in the dawn of a new era of medicine, one in which the electronic health record and artificial intelligence work hand in hand with medical providers to support and inform clinical decisions,” Hess contends. “By working together with some of the brightest minds, we will accelerate innovation and develop novel ways of healing patients and keeping the public healthy.”