When someone thinks of Northwell Health, one of the first words that comes to mind is innovation. Northwell Ventures, a for-profit department focusing on new corporate ventures, is a big driver of the new technology and services that help maintain that reputation. Whether it’s a curtain that helps stop the spread of infection efficiently or UV light technology that helps disinfect hospitals, Northwell Ventures is at the forefront of progressive transformation in the industry. As SVP and executive director of Northwell Ventures, Tom Thornton is responsible for identifying and fostering these innovative ideas that enhance the growth of the health system’s clinical and nonclinical enterprises. We sat down with Tom to discuss the latest in Northwell Ventures.
What’s the mission and vision for Northwell Ventures and how has this department grown over the past few years?
Northwell Ventures was launched four years ago in an effort to advance medical technology by investing in innovative ideas and services across healthcare. Our mission is to generate attractive returns, build profitable companies that drive quality health outcomes, increase operating efficiency, lower the overall costs of healthcare, and improve the patient experience.
It’s an exciting time for Ventures as so much in health care is changing to engage patients and improve patient experience with digital tools. As the department grows, it’s helping improve efficiency, care, and patient engagement through health care business services. Recently, we’ve begun commercializing these services and products to improve quality of care not only within Northwell but across the nation.
What are some upcoming technologies or areas that you are looking at that you believe are truly transformative?
There are many areas that are seeing transformation as technology advances. Some of these key areas are virtual care, wearables, healthcare business services, AI, healthcare information technology, and clinical trials. Innovation in these area are helping to improve health care with world-class products and capabilities. And patients are seeing the outcome from healthcare IT creating applications that allow them to easily access efficient scheduling systems from home, to virtual care giving them access to top physicians across the system.
How do you work with Northwell physicians and administrators to redefine patient care?
At Northwell we know that our employees are our most valuable resource to help solve the challenging problems in health care. This year we hosted our 2nd annual Northwell Health Innovation Challenge where employees can pitch new technologies to a panel, ”shark tank” style. The winning teams are awarded up to $500,000 in funding from Northwell Ventures to help turn these ideas into reality as they continue to help Northwell keep our reputation as one of the most innovative health system in the country.
Additionally, we know that our staff is our best asset in terms of deciding which investments are right for Northwell. We meet directly with clinicians and staff to help decide where to invest and test new innovations for improvement and efficiency. And innovation is in every corner of our health system – one of our environmental services supervisors helped develop a new curtain that helps reduce the spread of infection. This curtain is now being used in hospitals across the country.
Can you highlight a recent success story with one of your portfolio companies or partnerships?
Our first investment Avizia is the perfect example of a success story with Ventures. Avizia allows healthcare organizations to have access to system-wide telehealth efficiently and cost-effectively. Northwell used our own telehealth team and physicians to test and perfect this system throughout our investment.
Can you speak to any non-traditional partnerships or strategic relationships that have developed and why?
First and foremost, we provide care. The exciting part about being with Northwell is that the definition of care is ever-changing. We’re continually redeveloping health care by partnering with entrepreneurs, investors and now entire countries. Through Ventures we have created partnerships with international governments to help improve quality of care outside of the United States. Our perpetual need to empower the best and the brightest has allowed us to develop products and services that further enhance care and patient experience on a global scale.
Do you have any fun summer plans?
I would love to wake my wife and kids to the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater to see some concerts. I’m also a big sailor and am excited to spend some time out on the water.
Think you’re Made for innovation like Tom is talking about? Explore Northwell jobs here.