CIMIT, Induct Software Roll Out New Collaboration Platform for Healthcare

Collaboration is all the rage. So is innovation management. Throw in “cloud-based platform,” “improving quality of patient care while reducing cost,” and “translational research,” and it sounds like the perfect storm of IT-meets-healthcare buzzwords and memes.

So here’s the news. Boston-based nonprofit CIMIT, the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology, has teamed up with Induct Software, a Norwegian startup with a Boston-area CEO, to unveil a new Web-based collaboration platform today. The software, called CoLab, is aimed at helping healthcare institutions worldwide speed up innovative approaches, share information, and eventually work together to improve patient care. Although there are beaucoup de buzzwords involved, CoLab looks to be tackling some pretty important (and longstanding) problems in medicine.

First, some background. CIMIT started back in 1998 as a consortium of technology and clinical institutions; it has a dozen members, including most of the big Boston hospitals, MIT, and Draper Lab. Its main goal is to help scientists and engineers work together with doctors and medical staff to accelerate R&D for healthcare—particularly in areas like medical devices, procedures, and clinical systems. It does all this through a sprawling array of programs, grants, and initiatives.

Meanwhile, Induct Software is the latest calling for tech exec David Burns, the company’s Boston-based CEO. Burns was formerly CEO of Fast Search & Transfer (FAST) Inc., the U.S. operating company for FAST, the Norwegian enterprise search firm bought by Microsoft for $1.3 billion in 2008. (Induct has a lot of DNA from FAST and is following a similar playbook, roughly speaking, but in the innovation management sector.) Before that, Burns worked at Lycos, Data General, and a number of other tech companies.

At its core, CoLab isn’t a new idea. Henry Chesbrough, a business-school professor at UC Berkeley (and an Xconomist), literally wrote the book on “open innovation” about a decade ago. He’s the original inspiration for Induct, as well as the head of its academic advisory board. But Web-based collaboration in healthcare has taken a while to catch on, for cultural, logistical, and technical reasons. The hope is that together, CIMIT and Induct will be able to persuade other institutions to use the Web interface, open up, and share best practices. Indeed, Chesbrough says in a statement that CoLab “will allow CIMIT to scale up its innovative offerings to address healthcare needs all around the world.”

It sounds like CoLab is trying to help hospitals and disease foundations handle workflows (such as admissions processes) more efficiently, … Next Page »

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