CHOC President and Chief Executive Officer Kimberly Chavalas Cripe received the Visionary Award at the recent PEDS2040 conference hosted by the International Society of Pediatric Innovation (iSPI), a non-profit consortium of children’s hospitals and industry partners she greenlit a decade ago to help children around the world in need of exceptional and leading-edge care.
“It’s been one of the highlights of my career to play a tiny role in unleashing all of this,” Cripe said at the conference in La Jolla, Calif., that included healthcare leaders, pediatric providers, parents and patients, and industry partners from as far away as Italy, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
CHOC Chief Intelligence and Innovation Officer Dr. Anthony Chang and the late Dr. Nick Anas, senior vice president and physician in chief, proposed the formation of iSPI as a way for clinicians, administrators, parents, investors, service providers, philanthropists and patients to function as a united coalition and advance care through collaborating in pediatric innovation.
Cripe recalled quickly signing on to the idea.
“It was such a breath of fresh air, being able to think about the future in ways that none of us were thinking about,” she told attendees at the three-day gathering in mid-July. “After about 10 minutes, I thought this was incredible and if we were going to do it, let’s do it big. I was so inspired by what (Dr. Chang and Dr. Anas) were thinking about.”
What they were thinking about was innovation. There are more than 500 children’s hospitals around the world, but not many have a robust program for innovation.
With iSPI, whose members meet every two years, CHOC and its healthcare partners are aiming to change that.
Some of the ideas that since have come to fruition at CHOC, through Dr. Chang’s organization that now is called Mi4 (The CHOC Sharon Disney Lund Medical Intelligence, Information, Investigation and Innovation Institute), includes the Pediatric Moonshot Mission and PedsMKRT.
The Pediatric Moonshot Mission uses edge servers and edge cloud software to link healthcare imaging data at children’s hospitals worldwide. CHOC was the first to test this new internet for pediatricians when Dr. Chang transmitted an echocardiogram in real time to Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital in Rome.
PedsMKRT is a collaborative marketplace to engage buyers, sellers, and partners in scaling and accelerating pediatric innovations. Inspired by iSPI and CHOC Mi4, iSPI member Children’s Mercy Kansas City has championed the project to bring an online platform for pediatric-specific solutions and project collaboration and communication.
AI and medicine
CHOC pediatric neurologist Dr. Sharief Taraman, whose innovations include creating the first-ever FDA-approved diagnostic tool for autism that uses artificial intelligence (AI), lead a session on AI in medicine at the conference.
Advances in computing in the late 1990s and early 2000s have made AI in medicine more mainstream, said Dr. Taraman, who has worked closely with Dr. Chang over the last decade on Mi4 initiatives.
The first use of AI in medicine involved educating non-infectious disease specialists on which antibiotic to use to treat infection, Dr. Taraman said, and now there’s an explosion of AI applications particularly in radiology but also in non-clinical applications such as improving hospital operations.
Leveraging AI to improve healthcare is the goal, Dr. Taraman said, adding: “The computer is never really going to outperform the human, and the human is never really going to outperform the AI. It’s really the combination of the two working together that has the greatest impact.”
Innovation is a ‘responsibility’
Cripe participated in a fireside chat with Dr. Patrick Frias, president and chief executive of Rady Children’s Hospital and Health Center in San Diego, before receiving the Visionary Award, which she accepted on behalf of CHOC senior leadership for the creation and fostering of iSPI, “which has had an exponential global impact on the future of pediatric healthcare,” according to the award citation.
Rather than being a good return-on-investment vehicle, innovation is a long-term commitment, Cripe said, and it’s one of CHOC’s core values that is all about changing the lives of children and the trajectory of their lives.
“It takes courage and perseverance (to invest in innovation),” she added. “These are important investments, and we have a responsibility to make them for the children we’re serving.”
Hospital leaders need to be catalysts to move innovative ideas forward and collaboration is critical, Cripe said.
She cited as an example a partnership between CHOC and Rady Children’s that, in 2015, lead to an $18-million grant from the federal government to equip clinicians with the tools and support needed to step up the quality of care, increase patients’ access to information and reduce costs.
CHOC was the only hospital from Orange County to receive the funding, which went toward training, support and technical assistance for physicians in Orange and San Diego counties – an area that serves about 1.5 million children.
Innovation is fundamental to the future of CHOC, said Cripe, who added that she’s particularly excited about how innovation is improving the mental health behavioral space in pediatric healthcare.
In previous remarks about innovation, Cripe said: “All of us would not be here today if we did not believe that children are our future. If we want to build the most positive future possible, we need innovation to not only treat the complex, chronic conditions of our most vulnerable pediatric populations, but also to keep children healthy from the environmental and societal challenges that are new to us. Global warming threats, pollution, and the epidemic of the mental health crisis all need innovative approaches.”
And one hospital can’t do it alone, Cripe noted – which makes organizations like iSPI so critical.
“It’s simply impossible to address these challenges without harnessing the innovation power of the collective group of children’s hospitals,” she said.
Dr. Chang’s message to the PEDS2040 conference this year resonated:
“Innovation in children’s health is more needed than ever,” Dr. Chang said. “We must not rest until innovation is in full force.”
Learn more about innovation at CHOC