Cleveland Clinic creates incubator for internal app development

Cleveland Clinic is betting that its physicians, IT staff and others have some great ideas for apps and other mobile products. So much so, officials there have created a mobile "governance committee" of physicians, marketers, administrators, registered nurses and IT reps.

Their job: Vet new mobile ideas, and determine which should be developed, according to Scott Linaberger, digital marketing director for the Clinic, explained during his session last week at the World Congress Leadership Summit on mHealth.

The group resembles private incubator companies like Rock Health in that it also will find the funding for approved products and walk the creator through the development process. The idea is to encourage all Clinic staff, from clinicians to IT techs, to put forward their ideas, even if they don't know how to bring those idea to fruition, Linaberger said. 

The Clinic already has a suite of apps in development right now, including a consumer-oriented health news app for iPad with videos, a physician app that will deliver the Clinic's clinical content to doctors around the U.S., and a sleep app from the Clinic's Wellness Institute.

Along with developing apps, hospitals should keep an eye on their mobile websites, Linaberger said. The Clinic is revamping its mobile website because its first iteration, launched last year, received only "a mild amount of traffic." The reason: It didn't include access to the system's reams of health information. Users were using their smartphones to access the central website to browse health data, bypassing the mobile website altogether.

"It was a big 'a-ha' moment for us," Linaberger said. Now the Clinic is putting its video and clinical libraries on the mobile site, as well. "We know there is demand for it, so we're building that out now."