This year, the U.S. government will funnel roughly $6 million to a select group of medical
visionaries. Their mission: Fine-tune programs they’ve already pioneered to solve life-and-death
problems in our health-care system. The better the results, the likelier the programs will be
applied at scale. Here are five of the most promising options.
HEALING HEALTH CARE
MEDICAL CENTER » POR TLAND, OREGON
CONDITION: Most rapid-response alert
systems—think beeps that send doctors
rushing to a patient’s room—react to just
one vital sign, which makes it tough to
monitor overall health.
CURE: New software can track pulse,
blood pressure, breathing rate, and
body temperature; analyze how they
relate to one another; and alert doctors
before a patient flatlines.
“We drew inspiration from the way
engineers monitor airplanes. If the
fuel line is bad but everything else
works, the engine can probably
make it through the flight. But if
the fuel line is bad and the ignition
is bad, it’s all much likelier to fail.
When you look at everything at the
same time, it’s easier to predict a
problem. There have already been
studies that show the program we’re
using [called the Modified Early
Warning System] saves lives, and
it’s fairly easy to adopt. But we need
more results to convince hospitals.
If I can decrease mortality at St.
Vincent’s by 20%, that’s saving 120
lives a year. I’m passionate about
effecting that kind of change on a
large scale. The thing about science,
though, is that you can’t move faster
than your data.”