Innovation often is born of frustration with the status quo and the belief that there’s got to be a better way. During his 25-year career practicing and teaching anesthesiology at the famed Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Mark Ereth, M.D., says he witnessed more than his share of unnecessary blood transfusions conducted on patients.

“We’re over-transfusing. We should be the best in the world on this, and we’re not,” Dr. Ereth says, recalling his ah-ha moment that spurred him into action. “We decided it was time to come up with a program.”

“We drive extraordinary clinical outcomes for patients and financial outcomes for hospitals through massive change in the culture of transfusion.”

That epiphany five years ago is now, Transfuse Solutions, a privately owned firm that offers a suite of innovative blood management solutions aimed at reducing unnecessary or inappropriate blood transfusions by 50%. The solutions address the job to be done, which was defined by Dr. Ereth, Transfuse Solution’s founder and CEO, as improving care for patients and the financial results for providers and payers through more effective blood management.

The four key components to Transfuse Solution’s blood management program are: Education, data and informatics, change management and diagnostic and clinical-decision support. All are available in a variety of formats, whether it’s face-to-face consultations with individual clinicians or care teams or via mobile applications available to clinicians on smartphones or tablets. Each component addresses a void in blood management that has led to overuse of blood transfusions as well as inappropriate use of blood transfusions, putting patients at risk and driving up costs for both providers and payers.

Dr. Ereth estimated the potential annual savings nationwide of reducing unnecessary or inappropriate blood transfusions by 50% at $30 billion.

Despite that huge value upside, blood transfusions don’t get much attention as a clinical area. They’re mistakenly not thought of as a high-cost, high-use intervention that’s ripe for performance improvement like heart surgery or total joint replacement, according to Dr. Ereth. Consequently, they’re performed based on legacy practices passed down from clinician to clinician with little or no data, education or evidence to support the way blood transfusions have always been done, he says.

“Add to that the fact that people really don’t like to change, and you have an area of medicine that’s been devoid of innovation,” Dr. Ereth says.

That culture also makes it difficult for institutional providers like hospitals to innovate their blood management practices themselves. At best, home-grown programs may reduce inappropriate blood transfusions by 10% compared with 40% to 60% achieved through the use of Transfuse Solutions systematic and coordinated approach to blood management, Dr. Ereth says.

“We want to make it easy for them to do the right thing and make it hard for them to do the wrong thing,” he says, distilling the approach down to its core strategy. “That’s what we’re really trying to do.”

Innovator Insight: Surround yourself with really smart and motivated people. There are plenty of good ideas out there, and there’s plenty of money to be had to invest in these ideas. It really gets down to formulating the right team that can execute properly.


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