Newswise — CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – October 16, 2017 – The UNC Center for Health Innovationis included in a new list of 58 Hospitals and Health Systems with Innovation Programs, published today by Becker’s Hospital Review.

According to Becker’s, “The hospitals and health systems listed here have committed to innovation with dedicated centers and departments. Research and development from these programs range from technical — including medical devices, diagnostics and mobile health platforms — to clinical workflows, payment models and process improvements.”

Becker’s has published a version of this list since 2015, and this is the third year in a row that the Center has been recognized on the list.

“Seven years ago, UNC recognized the potential for innovation to address challenges facing health care systems in delivering patient-centric, high-value care and made a smart and strategic investment in dedicated resources to cultivate and catalyze innovation,” said David Rubinow, MD, Director of the Center. “The results speak for themselves. Since its inception, the Center has attracted over $20 million in external funding for novel initiatives, funded 18 innovative pilots with 94 internal team members, and engaged with 37 external partners.” 

The Center’s Innovation Pilot Awards, designed to cultivate innovation within UNC Health Care and the UNC School of Medicine, offer up to $50,000 for internal teams to pilot a novel idea. Although not its primary objective, the investment has generated a 2:1 return. 

Anil Gehi, MD, and his team received a pilot award in 2015 to establish a unique atrial fibrillation (Afib) transitions clinic, which reduced admissions of Afib patients in the Emergency Department at UNC Medical Center by 30 percentage points. “Based on results of the pilot project funded by the Center, we received a $1.7 million grant from the Bristol-Meyers Squibb Foundation to expand the clinics across North Carolina, which will allow us to provide better access and care for these patients at a lower cost to the system,” Dr. Gehi said. 

In 2016, the Center launched an effort to accelerate digital health innovation. The Digital Health Innovation Sprint is a novel approach to moving from ideation to working protoypes in a condensed time period using design thinking principles. More than 300 participants, including engineers, developers, entrepreneurs, and clinicians, have participated over the course of two sprints and three teams continuing to pursue development of their solutions. 

Additionally, the Center provided support for UNC’s first Apple ResearchKit app, PPD ACT.

“Our research team wanted to build external partnerships to create a mobile app to study the genetic causes of postpartum depression. We understood the science but had limited expertise in forming partnerships, hiring a software developer, and navigating the process of launching a research study via a smart phone,” said Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH, principal investigator for the project. “The Center was instrumental in our success. Over 11,000 women enrolled in PPD ACT across three countries, and we continue to expand internationally.”

Carol Lewis, the Center’s Executive Director, says the Center’s current model has worked well, and their team “is having a lot of fun.”

“With a small, dedicated team, we’ve been able to support many of UNC Health Care’s strategic projects related to value-based care and population health while also creating additional capacity for innovation. Offering expertise, partner opportunities, and support is getting results. Over the next five years we hope to engage more UNC innovators and continue to disrupt health care delivery to improve patient experience,” Lewis said.

If you are an innovator (or desire to become one) you can connect with the Center here.


Media contact: Tom Hughes, 984-974-1151, 


About UNC Health Care

UNC Health Care is an integrated health care system comprised of UNC Hospitals and its provider network, UNC Faculty Physicians, UNC Physicians Network, the clinical patient care programs of the UNC School of Medicine and nine other hospitals and hospital systems across the state. Additional hospital entities include UNC Rex Healthcare, Chatham HospitalJohnston HealthPardee HospitalHigh Point Regional HealthCaldwell MemorialNash Health Care, Wayne Memorial and UNC Lenoir Health Care

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