Henry Ford Innovations Joins Carnegie Mellon Center

January 24, 2014

Partnership will advance digital health solutions for transitional care

DETROIT -- Henry Ford Innovations – a venture development business unit of the Henry Ford Health System – today announced it will partner with the Quality of Life Technology (QoLT) Center – a National Science Foundation sponsored Engineering Research Center based at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh – to develop new digital health solutions that aim to improve patient outcomes and the art of transitional care post-discharge.

The formal partnership marks an investment in the QoLT Consortium – a disruptive health care innovation ecosystem that unites leading organizations in support of intelligent systems design for addressing the world’s most urgent challenges in aging and disability.

“We are excited to be working with Carnegie Mellon University towards the next generation of digital health solutions,” said Mark Coticchia, Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer of Henry Ford Health System. “This relationship with the Quality of Life Technology Center is a cornerstone of Henry Ford’s digital health strategy, and will provide a new set of talent, resources and ideas to craft solutions for pressing health care problems.”

Quality of Life Technology (QoLT) is an emerging engineering discipline focused on research in assistive robotics and other human-computer symbiotic systems that can support people in everyday living. Example QoLTs include personal robots that serve people at home, computerized coaches for rehabilitation and support in daily functional tasks, and a range of technologies that either extend or enhance the care of professional and informal caregivers.

“Henry Ford is one of the nation’s most progressive health systems,” said Jim Osborn, Executive Director of the QoLT Center. “Their administration and clinicians recognize the imperative and the opportunity to improve health care efficiency and quality through technology. Together we will pioneer solutions that could benefit thousands of people.”

A Centers for Disease Control study found that more than 47 million adults (or 22 percent of U.S. adults) reported a disability. The most common cause of disability was arthritis or rheumatism followed by back or spine problems and heart trouble. Of those reporting a disability, the most common reported limitations were difficulty climbing a flight of stairs and walking 3 city blocks.
The patient discharge period may mark a critical intervention point for limiting the onset of disability.

A portion of funding from the partnership is earmarked for a year-long, 3-phase Rapid Prototyping project course under the direction of QoLT Center Director, Daniel P. Siewiorek, and Virtual Coaching Testbed Systems Lead, Asim Smailagic. For progressive problem-solving, the project will employ a team of the nation’s most advanced graduate-level students with expertise in fields ranging from computer science, machine learning, rehabilitation science, and assistive technology. Henry Ford Innovations is the first major health care provider to formally support the QoLT Consortium’s refined industry ecosystem model. The partnership entails Master Membership in the group with full collaboration benefits and technology transfer privileges.

About Henry Ford Innovations

Henry Ford Innovations aligns the Henry Ford Health System’s intellectual and clinical assets with best practices in technology commercialization, venture funding, product development, and corporate partnerships. Its mission is to translate leading edge discoveries for clinical uses in the rapidly changing world of technology and consumer-impacted healthcare. Through clinical activities and interaction with a growing array of corporate and institutional affiliates across the globe, Henry Ford Innovations addresses challenging health care problems to create solutions and bring them to market.

About the Quality of Life Technology Center

The Quality of Life Technology Center (QoLT) is a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center focused on the development of intelligent systems that enable older adults and people with disabilities to live more independently. The QoLT Center addresses the needs and activities of everyday living by prototyping personal assistive robots, cognitive and behavioral coaches, human awareness and driver assistance technologies. QoLT research is rooted in human-system interaction and observes the social and clinical factors for deployment and adoption. In addition, educational programs, commercialization initiatives and unique partnership opportunities are offered. The center is jointly run by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.