Aurora expanding partnership with StartUp Health

A year into the partnership, Aurora Health Care says its work with the national group StartUp Health has proven fruitful.

“We’re learning how to be more nimble and agile,” said Mike Rodgers, the Milwaukee health system’s director of strategic innovation.

And it’s expanding that partnership by launching a new platform where startups can help Aurora better meet patient needs. Rodgers said the platform is moving beyond traditional population health — using data to predict needs of groups of patients with shared characteristics — to instead focus on the needs of individual patients themselves.

“We need to get down to the personal level [to] really give them the best possible care, whether it’s in our four walls or outside our four walls,” Rodgers said.

Aurora and StartUp Health are taking applications until July 20 from startups who’d like to join that platform. Those accepted would also get all the benefits of joining StartUp Health’s Academy and its international network.

Aurora’s partnership with StartUp Health, announced last year, made Aurora a lead investor in the group. It joined major investors such as Mark Cuban and Steve Case, though neither side disclosed the amount Aurora’s put into the effort.

So far, Aurora is working with two of the companies in StartUp Health’s network — BabyScripts and Caremerge.

Aurora President and CEO Nick Turkal wrote an op-ed in Modern HealthCare in April about the need for health systems to “reinvent themselves by embracing a culture of transformation.”

Aurora, he wrote, is piloting a program with BabyScripts to reduce the number of visits women need to make during prenatal care, instead offering them monitoring tools that physicians can use to see if there are any unusual changes.

It’s also working with Caremerge to help Aurora keep track of what’s happening with patients once they leave their hospitals to prevent readmissions, which are penalized under the Affordable Care Act.

Steve Krein, the co-founder & CEO of StartUp Health, said Turkal’s shown an unusual commitment to innovation — and recognizes some of the best solutions might come from somewhere else in the world.

“He’s got it as a very clear, top priority,” Krein said.

— By Polo Rocha,