MedMined, a recipient of NBIA’s 2002 Outstanding Incubator Client award, is still writing a success story. The Birmingham, Ala.-based company has caught the attention of 100 hospitals in 25 states by saving money for hospitals and insurers, and in some cases, by saving patients’ lives. MedMined, which was created around a tool that uses data mining technologies and artificial intelligence models to detect anomalies that identify hospital-acquired infections in patients, now also provides services to help hospitals use that information to improve procedures and reduce infection rates.
MedMined sales revenue grew from $5,000 in 2000 to $1.2 million in 2003 (the year it graduated from the Office for the Advancement of Developing Industries Technology Center) to $3.3 million in 2004 — a 660-fold increase in five years. OADI Technology Center contributed to this growth by developing sales training to help improve MedMined’s experienced sales team’s ability to make contact with difficult-to-reach decision makers.
Most important to hospital patients, the company’s product and services are saving an average of about five lives each week. "We’re very much about patient care; that’s what makes us all come to work every day," says G.T. LaBorde, MedMined’s chief operating officer.
In addition to improving patient care, hospitals want to improve their bottom lines. MedMined helps them do that by discovering outbreaks of hospital-acquired infections. "Our technology learns from a hospital’s own data what’s typical and recognizes when something unusual happens," LaBorde says. No other company has that data mining capability, he says. "It’s the key technology that really generates the results."
That technology came about when MedMined founder Stephen Brossette recognized the need for a more accurate infection monitoring system while he was a graduate student pursuing a dual degree in medicine and computer science at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His research led him to create the Data Mining Surveillance Service, the product around which MedMined was founded in 2000. A few months later, the company moved into the OADI Technology Center. Within a year, it began selling its product and received $2 million in venture capital funding. OADI Technology Center staff coached and rehearsed the company to create an effective fund-raising presentation.
In the past couple of years, the company began supplementing its technology with accompanying services and consulting to help ensure that hospital personnel use the information the company provides to change the way they work, LaBorde says.
MedMined extracts data on an ongoing basis from client hospital databases in real time, conducts analyses and provides reports. Financial experts figure out the cost of hospital-acquired infections, and MedMined clinicians communicate the information to hospitals.
MedMined reports provide additional information, including best-practice recommendations on how to fix a problem. The goal is to motivate hospitals to change procedures to reduce hospital-acquired infections, shorten patient stays, reduce costs to hospitals and insurers, and even save lives.
MedMined statistics show that hospitals using its services achieve about a 13 percent reduction in hospital-acquired infections, LaBorde says. The national average for hospital-acquired infections is 5.7 percent, and the average mortality of patients with hospital-acquired infections is 4 percent to 5 percent. MedMined’s services now cover more than 1 million admissions annually.
Although the services the company provides to patients are not as direct as the services doctors and nurses provide, "it is gratifying, especially for a business guy like myself, to distribute something that is having such an impact on patients’ lives," LaBorde says.
MedMined has developed partnerships with Blue Cross and Blue Shield health insurance companies in Alabama, Texas and New Jersey, and with 3M Health Care. The Blue Cross partnerships aim to reduce hospital-acquired infections in those states. The 3M partnership seeks to combine 3M’s infection reduction knowledge and tools with MedMined’s technology to further reduce infections, LaBorde says.
MedMined, which outgrew the incubator, leases space in a Birmingham office building where it has expanded three times and now fills an entire floor. The company’s staff has increased from three employees in 2000 to 45 in 2005.
As the company has grown, so has its reputation. In 2002, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Technology Review named Brossette one of the world’s Top 100 Innovators. In 2003, Fortune Small Business magazine recognized MedMined as one of "14 Hot Startups" in the United States.
"They’ve already received incredible recognition for their company and product," says Susan Matlock, OADI Technology Center executive director. "It’s so clear that they are meeting a unique need in health care ... at a time when infectious disease control is becoming more significant for hospitals, physicians and insurers."
Being an incubator client provided a mark of legitimacy for the company, LaBorde says. "Graduating from an incubator says something very positive about our company," he says. "As a young business, you’re struggling to establish that you do something noteworthy, something different and valuable." Winning the 2002 NBIA award helped confirm that image. Receiving the 2005 Outstanding Incubator Graduate award "is a bit overwhelming," LaBorde says. "We didn’t expect it, but it’s the wonderful result of a lot of hard work."
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