Sutter Announces Innovation Center to Revolutionize Patient Care
Oct 10, 2023
Sutter Health
Aerial view of Bay Bridge with San Francisco cityscape in the background

Sutter Invites Innovators and Partners from Across the Healthcare Industry to Join Its Mission to Drive Positive Change and Innovate for a Healthier Future

SAN FRANCISCO–Sutter Health is excited to announce the launch of its innovation center – a new, dedicated space aimed at fostering creative solutions to some of today’s biggest healthcare challenges. To be located in the heart of the Bay Area with close strategic ties to Silicon Valley, this space will serve as a dynamic hub for creative solutions that will shape the future of healthcare. Sutter is seeking to finalize a location in San Francisco for the innovation hub, with plans to be up and running by early 2024.

The innovation center is more than just a space; it will be the new home of the Sutter Health innovation team. Their exceptional work has not only laid the groundwork but has also paved the way for the team’s expansion. The dynamic hub will also be a space where Sutter Health leaders, physicians, teammates, students and technology partners collaborate, incubate cutting-edge products and services, and touch the future of healthcare. The launch of this center will provide a central place that represents a systemwide philosophy of innovation to energize and enhance the capabilities of all teams, especially those of Sutter’s storied medical groups across the system’s footprint.

“With the launch of this center, Sutter is doing even more and moving faster to change the dynamics of healthcare,” said Warner Thomas, president and CEO of Sutter Health. “Innovation thrives when we collaborate. Together with innovation industry leaders, we are charting a new course to revolutionize the way care is delivered. Whether it’s in how we manage chronic diseases or provide care at home, our commitment to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in healthcare has never been stronger. We want the work done here to have a ripple effect, transforming the entire healthcare ecosystem by benefiting both clinicians and patients. We invite visionaries who share our passion for innovation and improving the lives of patients to join us on this journey.”

This is a major step forward in Sutter’s commitment to advance whole-person health and promote health equity through digital innovation. It builds on the remarkable legacy work of the Sutter Health innovation team led by Chris Waugh, vice president and chief innovation officer and Albert Chan, M.D., M.S., chief health information officer. With the arrival of Laura Wilt, senior vice president and chief digital officer, and Richard Milani, M.D., chief clinical innovation officer, the center will combine the power of technology with the best clinical and predictive approaches to medical care. The center will also cultivate partnerships, simulate and evaluate ideas in clinical settings, and train clinicians to shape the future of healthcare.

“Digital innovation is propelling healthcare into the future, and integrated systems like Sutter Health are leading the way,” said Wilt. “Establishing an intentional space for innovation sends a clear signal that Sutter, alongside our partners, is more committed than ever to deliver on our mission of making healthcare simpler, more engaging and deeply human.”

Sutter’s approach is rooted in human-centered design, ensuring innovations consider the physical, mental, emotional and social aspects of health to improve the lives of patients. The center will invest and partner with venture firms and early-stage digital health startups from initial idea development to scale – prototyping, testing and deploying new products in a real-world healthcare environment that is a microcosm of the nation. Sutter is dedicated to the success of the center and increasing its investment in digital innovation.

“We believe healthcare is at an inflection point,” said Waugh. “Sutter’s history is etched with groundbreaking innovations and partnerships that have elevated the patient experience. With the innovation center, we’re propelling our mission to new heights – igniting innovation through an unapologetically human-centric lens and ensuring a dynamic transformation that enhances the experience for both patients and providers alike.”

Leveraging the system’s strategic location in Northern California and its more than 3 million patients in one of the most geographically and demographically diverse regions of the nation, Sutter has decades of experience in cutting-edge programs and technologies. This includes Sutter’s Innovation Hatchery. Funded by grateful patients Michael and Judith Gaulke in 2017, the Hatchery propelled the system’s focus on innovation by serving as an incubator for identifying creative solutions to healthcare challenges, validating their effectiveness in real-world settings and integrating them into care as quickly and safely as possible.

The launch of the innovation center builds on Sutter’s track record of innovation with tools and programs like Scout by Sutter Health™ – an app designed for teens and young adults ages 13-22 that focuses on resilience-building so young people can better manage their everyday mental health needs. Its evidence-based tools, exercises and resources are conveniently available for young people as an app and web platforms in English and Spanish. Scout by Sutter Health™ also offers “champions”—usually family, friends or other identified supporters of the youth users—their own dedicated content streams so they can better support the mental health journey of the young person in their life.

The center will also enhance existing collaboration with technology partners, like Ferrum Health, who share Sutter’s mission of benefitting patients. Ferrum Health’s AI-powered platform supports reading radiologists at both time of read and post read to better identify important diagnoses like lung cancers in their early stages. This groundbreaking technology has already produced remarkable results – since its launch in August 2019, the platform has processed more than 430,000 patient records and found over 1,850 instances where pulmonary nodules were missed on the first read.

“Our partnership with Sutter has played an instrumental role where our technology provides a positive and lasting impact on the lives of patients across Northern California,” said Pelu Tran, CEO of Ferrum Health. “We’re excited to deepen our collaboration with Sutter through the launch of the innovation center that will help reimagine the future of healthcare within and beyond California.”

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