The leading edge of precision medicine research

I wanted to share some very exciting news as a follow up to my previous blog about Henry Ford Hospital’s investment in precision medicine. Last month, the National Institutes of Health announced that Henry Ford Health System is leading a five-member research consortium to expand the geographic reach and diversity of the NIH’s Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort Program.

Continue reading

Share Doc in the D:

Precision medicine is the key to unlocking a cure

Anyone in the field of health care or observant of patient’s clinical course knows how patients often dramatically differ in their response to prescribed therapy. We have ascribed this to a variety of factors, some assumptive and some ascribed to “biological variability” represented within populations. We construct randomized clinical trials with large, diverse populations to assess responses to a drug versus another drug or placebo in order to figure this out.

The unlocking of the human genetic code has given some insights into what the future of medicine will bring to understand this variability.

Continue reading

Share Doc in the D:

IDEAL: Advancing Surgical Innovation

Advances in health care happen in a variety of ways.

Sometimes they occur as a matter of necessity – the desperate attempt to save a life.

Sometimes they occur as a matter of luck – the “eureka” moment of discovery.

1086979341_davinci0179

Robotic kidney surgery at Henry Ford Hospital.

Most of the time they occur as a result of thoughtful innovation, development and assessment, and then tested for reliability and safety.

When you take a prescription or an over-the-counter drug, you probably don’t give very much thought as to how that particular medication came to be; you know what it does, potential side-effects and why you’re taking it.

But there’s a strong process in place for developing new drugs and making them available to the masses, to ensure quality, safety and effectiveness:

  • The drug manufacturer tests it and submits evidence through a “new drug application” to the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER).
  • A team of CDER physicians, statisticians, chemists, pharmacologists, and other scientists then review the data provided in the application and propose labeling, should it be approved for use.
  • After that a clinical research process continues to test the validity of the studies and role of the medication in the treatment process.

Clear. Effective. Tested.

Ever wonder how the tracheostomy came to be a surgical method of treating an obstruction in the trachea?

The technique was clearly an innovation at the time. But it was not required to go through a randomized controlled trial or other strictures required of new prescription drugs and medical procedures.

You can take a drug “off label” for other uses – there’s a clear method for researching alternative uses and effectiveness as such.

Shouldn’t we have something similar in place for new surgical techniques? For surgical and procedural cases, the “off label” uses are not as clearly understood or often as rigorously scrutinized.

Once the “off label” procedure is proven to work, how do we ensure that it is safely performed by other surgeons and proceduralists? Continue reading

Share Doc in the D:

The Annual Quality Expo

This week marked Henry Ford Health System’s 21st Annual Quality Expo.

The Quality Expo, hosted at Henry Ford Hospital, offers an opportunity for all of Henry Ford Health System to showcase the innovations and improvements made by our employees, departments and hospitals in the areas of health care quality, patient safety and care delivery.

Leo, a therapy dog at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, is one of the most remarkable therapists that I have ever encountered. Leo and HFWH’s Pet Therapy Program were featured at the Quality Expo.

Henry Ford is the only health care provider in southeast Michigan to host such an event.

The Quality Expo’s features 70 projects, all of which are aimed at reducing medical errors and improving patient safety, quality and satisfaction.

As always at this event, I was truly impressed, as I walked through the poster presentations and spoke with colleagues, by the tremendous work being done by our health care teams to continuously enhance quality and safety throughout the system.

I did stop to see one of our employees, Leo, a therapy dog at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital.

Leo is one of the most remarkable therapists that I have ever encountered.  He is calm, friendly, and extraordinarily soothing, and part of a great program of pet therapy throughout our System.  Within minutes of being with him, all of my concerns and anxieties were gone.

(Of course, my own dog, Co Co, previously feature in Doc In the D, continues to be the one I confide in the most.  Co Co’s colleague, Mr. Mo, aka Uncle Mo, provides coverage as needed. Sometimes both are needed to “treat” me.)  Continue reading

Share Doc in the D:

The Henry Ford Violins: Where Medicine Meets Music

I would normally be concerned about privacy issues and other regulations regarding the sharing of clinical information about patients, but I am going to risk it to tell you about two recent and unique patients we examined at Henry Ford:  Mr. Stradivarius and Mr. Guarneri.

Actually these were not really patients but two extraordinary musical instruments: the 1709 Stradivarius and the 1744 Guarneri del Gesu.

These very rare violins – part of the historical artifact collection at The Henry Ford in Dearborn – weren’t here for the usual examination and blood work that we would recommend for 300-year-old patients.  They weren’t here for a tune-up either.

The Henry Ford, the museum and more which is one of the great treasures in the world, was hoping to make new discoveries about these “old world” musical instruments using some of our “high-tech” medical instruments, specifically the computed tomography equipment in the Department of Radiology.

So how do you use modern-day medical technology designed for humans to uncover the history of a 300-year-old violin’s design and repair?

Enter Henry Ford Hospital radiologist Dr. John Bonnett.

While his focus is on abdominal imaging at the hospital, he has made a hobby out of imaging non-human objects with the CT scanner – flowers, seashells, watches. Continue reading

Share Doc in the D:

Driving Innovation (and an Electric Car) in Detroit

When I last met up with Frank Venegas, we were at the Detroit Institute of Arts talking about Frida Kahlo and her ties to Frank’s family, as well as Henry Ford Hospital.

Henry Ford Hospital also has something else in common with Frank and his company, Ideal Group:  a focus on innovation in Detroit.

One of Ideal Group’s customers, General Motors, is responsible for creating one of the bigger innovations to recently come out of Detroit – the Chevy Volt, a plug-in, range-extended electric vehicle with an on-board gasoline generator.

Not only did Frank show support for GM’s innovation by buying two Chevy Volts, he’s also been documenting his driving experience on his blog, “Frank’s V in the D.”

Frank’s even been handing the key fob (no keys needed for the Volt) to business colleagues in Detroit, giving them the chance to test-drive this game-changing product.

I recently had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of Frank’s Volt. (And, yes, it does comfortably seat someone taller than 6 ft.)

I thought that one of the best ways to really test the car’s electric charge and gas mileage – and continue the conversation about innovation – was to drive to a few Henry Ford sites in and around Detroit, where innovation is changing how we care for our patients.

Continue reading

Share Doc in the D:

If You Build It, They Will Innovate

When you type “innovation in Detroit” into a Google search, the results are a rather interesting mix of links about our city’s history (mostly related to automotive) and articles both doubting and touting the future potential of innovation creating new businesses, products and jobs in Detroit.

One link in particular that stood out was an article published a few years ago in the Huffington Post. The headline: Detroit – Innovation City?

And it’s a fair question. With all that Detroit has weathered, can a few scattered ideas change its image, create a hub for talent and develop a solid strategy for revival?

Today, we have an answer to that question: The Innovation Institute at Henry Ford, which officially opens today (Oct. 10) on the Henry Ford Hospital campus.

The Innovation Institute is an important step forward in creating an environment to foster new ideas in medicine, as well as find creative solutions to identify best processes in patient care.

But we aren’t taking the traditional route to innovation.

Think of it this way: Many of you have probably looked at some product in the hospital, your home, or other parts of your life and said, “I think this would work better if it was designed like this (insert your idea here).”

Continue reading

Share Doc in the D:

Steven Paul Jobs, 1955-2011

On the brink of the opening of the Henry Ford Innovation Institute, we honor the passing of one of the greatest innovators of our time.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life…Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”
– Steve Jobs, 2005

Wisdom.  Rest in peace.

Share Doc in the D:

Behind the Scenes: Henry Ford Hospital’s New iMRI

I normally do not use this blog to tout the technological advantages of Henry Ford Hospital, despite the many such wonders that we have on the Detroit Campus.

I am breaking that mold to inform you of an exciting new technology at Henry Ford Hospital that is providing neurosurgeons with an amazingly detailed view of brain tumors during surgery.

The Intraoperative Magnetic Resonance Imaging (iMRI) scanner – the first and only one in Michigan – makes it possible to safely and effectively navigate the brain to remove the maximum amount of tumor tissue, improving patient outcomes. The iMRI also will aid in the treatment of epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, dystonia and neuro-psychiatric disorders.

In the above video clip, neurosurgeon Steven Kalkanis, M.D., director of the Laboratory for Translational Brain Tumor Research at Henry Ford Hospital, discusses the technology behind the iMRI and how it will ultimately benefit our patients.
Continue reading

Share Doc in the D:

Can Health Care Transform a City Like Detroit? It’s Already Happening.

There’s a company in Cleveland that, in one year, generated more than $570 million in state and local taxes. With more than 35,000 employees, it’s also the largest employer in Northeast Ohio, and the second largest employer in the state.

No, it’s not the Browns or the Cavaliers (even when King LeBron was still in town). Possibly the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame plays a role, but isn’t that the case for rock and roll in all of life?


 
The Cleveland Clinic and its suburban hospitals are the ones making this enormous impact on the city and state economy – $8.9 billion in 2006 alone. It’s also one of the many reasons a city once criticized as much as Detroit is now called “The Comeback City.”

And Cleveland isn’t the only place where an academic health center is improving the economic health of its community.

Continue reading

Share Doc in the D: