Myers, '15, Explores Health-Care Innovation at MidMichigan Health

Internship puts biology major, Gerstacker minor at forefront of what’s next in care

September 25, 2014 | By Matt Myers, '15

Matt Myers is the son of Thomas and Linda Myers of Midland and a graduate of Bullock Creek High School.

Hospitals that stay the most current with the changing industry are also the most successful. Much of this innovation comes from large multibillion-dollar, urban-based institutions. The issue at hand for MidMichigan Health's MidMichigan Medical Center-Gratiot is to provide quality care to a rural community faced with different medical needs.

This summer, I learned a lot about health-care innovation centers by helping to develop one. "Health-care innovation center" is a vague term used to describe corporations or institutions aimed at conceptualizing and developing new ways to care for patients and to better the health-care community.

I have been working with Mark Santamaria, CEO of MidMichigan Medical Center-Gratiot, to research centers like the Henry Ford Health Innovation Institute in Detroit, Rock Health in San Francisco, and BluePrint Health in New York City. We envision a center that provides workspace and resources (funding, consultation, high-speed Internet, etc.) for start-up companies, research partners, or somebody with a new "big idea." These start-up companies and new ideas are typically technology-based, but range from data/analytics to simple inventions such as Henry Ford Health Innovation's redesign of the typical highly exposing hospital gown.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of innovation center, and I tried to determine the full potential for a center based in our hospital. I found that a lot of funding comes from governmental grants, and that these centers can be very specialized based on institutional resources. For example, Harvard has a very good innovation center based on primary care that works closely with their primary-care medical school. Some of the larger corporations generate billions of dollars from hundreds of investment ventures, while hospital-based centers are generally funded through government funding and other grants.

We also have spent time networking in the region. Through an educational partnership with Alma College, MidMichigan Medical Center-Gratiot provides educational space for Alma's nursing program and we're looking at creating a fellowship-type program with their health-care administration program.

This industry is very interesting to me, as the amount of money in this field is very surprising. Rock Health is only three years old and has over $2.3 billion in funding for new health-care companies, such as TelePharm, Doctor on Demand, and Studio Dental. Some of these companies may not yet be household names but show promise to truly affect the way health care is performed.

The research at times was very slow and daunting, but I saw its importance when I accompanied Mark to meetings with potential benefactors. They wanted to see evidence of success from other operations and big-picture ideas that can adapt to fit our hospital.

The process of creating an innovation institute from the ground up is very large. Mark and I did much of the high-level, big-picture idea work together. It will take a good amount of time until we see a fully functioning innovation institute at MidMichigan Medical Center-Gratiot. I'm disappointed that I will not be able to help develop this institute until the very end.

During my time at MidMichigan I also did a few small accounting projects. Most involved accessing and collecting data such as quantity of patients, revenue from individual departments, and quality measures of care. I would typically create spreadsheets or presentations for senior executives to use. I was really surprised how challenging accounting is! I have yet to take an accounting class, but to be honest, I enjoyed it. I have a newfound respect for accountants.

Being a biology major and a business and organizations minor in the Gerstacker Institute, this internship fit a niche between my two areas of study. It's helped me understand what I like about health-care administration (the quickly changing industry, the ability to help people on a large scale) and don’t like (the amount of time spent answering emails and doing research, as I prefer to be more active). The on-the-job training and knowledge I have received at MidMichigan and the connections I've made have been as beneficial to my education as any class I could have taken while at Albion.