Navigating the ‘perilous path’ of healthcare innovation

“Healthcare innovation is not easy – no matter where you are in the world,” Jennie Kung, Mayo Clinic Innovation Exchange senior director told delegates at HIMSS22 APAC.

In this closing keynote session on Tuesday last week, Kung outlined the many challenges that could derail innovators, such as navigating IP strategy, clinical validation processes, the regulatory landscape, commercialisation strategy and investment. 

“The only truth we really know is that healthcare innovation faces a perilous path and patient care only advances if we can help innovators at every step of the way of their innovation continuum,” said Kung.

Innovation Exchange

In 2020, Mayo Clinic launched its Innovation Exchange virtual platform to support innovators around the world on this path. 

Through the platform, Mayo provides a network of business and educational resources to support innovation. As well as benefiting from Mayo’s own expertise, innovators are connected with government agencies, industry partners, professional advisors, academic collaborators, and investment committees.  

“We’re laser-focused on helping innovators outside of Mayo to reach their goals because we believe that if we can work together, we can accelerate innovation much faster and bring these results to patients,” explained Kung. “Sometimes that looks like partnerships with Mayo and sometimes it’s helping innovators identify and understand their problems much more deeply.”

Successful collaborations 

Over the last two years, the Innovation Exchange has worked with more than 65 founders and companies worldwide including in India and Singapore. 

“There’s no perfect founder or start-up. The needs of healthcare innovation are vast and as a result, we keep our doors wide open,” said Kung.

One successful collaboration is with Singaporean startup Neuroglee Therapeutics, which focuses on improving outcomes for patients with neurodegenerative diseases. 

After joining the exchange in 2021, Neuroglee was able to provide a digital treatment combining its software and AI solutions with Mayo’s clinical expertise. Shortly after the partnership, the startup raised $10 million in Series A funding and has now relocated its headquarters to the US. 

Union of forces

The aims of the Innovation Exchange align with the value of collaboration at the heart of Mayo’s ethos. Royston Lek, executive director for APAC, Mayo Clinic, Singapore told the conference how in 1910 founding father Dr William Mayo emphasised the “union of forces” to provide patient care.

“The sum total of medical knowledge is so great and wide-ranging that it’s futile for one organisation or person to attempt to acquire or assume a good and complete working knowledge of it,” said Lek.

For this reason, Mayo seeks to create centres of excellence through clinical practice, education and research, digital health and patient care solutions, innovation, and the Mayo Clinic model of care.

One example is a collaboration with partners in Asia and Latin America to introduce digital health and patient care solutions – in particular around telemedicine 2.0 and digital pathology. Also, through its Mayo Clinic Platform Services Division, it provides scalable digital solutions to help validate clinical AI tools using Mayo’s database.