Game changing ideas can result from diversity of perspective, and Georgia Tech is setting the gold standard for public-private partnerships. Last year, Georgia Tech had 930 research contracts with large and small companies spanning the research spectrum. The Institute also is known for its collaborative work with local and state chambers of commerce and groups like Technology Association of Georgia and Georgia Research Alliance, all strengthened further by partnerships with Georgia’s other research universities and the Technical College System of Georgia.
One such partnership, which seeks to improve the tools pediatric health providers use to care for sick children, was recently highlighted for federal policymakers. Georgia Tech hosted a roundtable discussion on driving innovation in pediatric healthcare in Washington D.C. to inform policymakers of challenges and successes in research partnerships. Co-hosted with IBM and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the cornerstone of the discussion was Georgia Tech’s unique $20 million partnership with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The panel included:
- Patrick Frias, Chief Physician Officer, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
- Kevin Maher, Co-Director, Center for Pediatric Innovation and Bioengineering, Georgia Tech, Emory University, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
- Beth Mynatt, Professor and Director, Georgia Tech Institute for People and Technology
- Harry Reynolds, Director, Health Industry Transformation, IBM
- Leanne West, Chief Engineer of Pediatric Technologies
- Bill Todd (moderator), Professor of the Practice, Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business
Panelists shared their perspectives on what it takes to make partnerships like the Georgia Tech – Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta partnership successful, and urged congressional staffers to refresh their thinking about healthcare delivery.
“The saying goes, ‘It takes a village,’ and the village used to be defined as people,” said Reynolds who oversees the healthcare and life sciences industries for IBM all over the world. “Now the ‘village’ is defined as an ecosystem of information and capabilities that come in the form of technology.”
Reynolds commended the panelists for being equally innovative and practical, pointing to the “Quick Wins” approach to bring innovative technologies to clinicians within 18 months. Read more about Quick Wins and the Children’s and Georgia Tech partnership here.
Panelists Patrick Frias and Leanne West spoke to the importance of federal funding for research. “Extramural funding is so important because we leverage that work for other applications,” said West, who often identifies existing research on campus that can be used to help meet a totally unrelated need in pediatric healthcare.
In the afternoon, Tech held a briefing for staffers from the Georgia Congressional Delegation about the status of health information technology in our state. Mynatt, a leading expert in this area, was joined by Sherry Farruggia, Georgia Tech strategic partners officer, Margarita Gonzales, principal investigator for the Georgia Tech-Georgia Department of Community Health research program, and Kim Isett, associate professor in Tech’s School of Public Policy.
“In Georgia, we are in a good position to do advance health IT innovation and the industry quickly,” said Georgia Tech executive vice president for research Stephen Cross, who facilitated the discussion. “Our state has been called “the nation’s health IT capitol,” with over 200 health IT companies. The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce estimates that Georgia’s health IT sector employs nearly 16,000 people, and that the sector’s primary companies are growing rapidly.”
The panel described a successful pilot health information exchange for cancer patients in Rome, Ga., which served as a case in point for the powerful model of partnership between state, federal, and university entities. Read about the project.
Panelists underscored the importance of addressing challenges related to interoperability and access to data. Additionally, the panel encouraged staffers to consider Georgia Tech a partner for decision support, and to think about the format and type of data that would be helpful as they develop new policies.
The Washington, D.C. roundtables are part of an ongoing advocacy campaign supporting Georgia Tech’s strategic plan. “Our presence in D.C. has never been greater,” said Georgia Tech director of federal relations Robert Knotts, “It is important to continue to show our leaders in the federal government that when they ask, ‘what does Georgia Tech think,’ they will receive information and testimony exactly appropriate to helping them address major issues facing our state and nation.”