Georgia Tech Helps Piedmont Newnan Improve Accuracy, Decrease Turnaround Times

The cross-functional team at Piedmont Newnan was made up of employees that deal with the process daily. For this project, they focused on case carts, which are used for pulling together all supplies needed for surgical procedures.

Pam Murphy, a registered nurse and director of surgical services at Piedmont Newnan Hospital, has seen it all in her 23 years of employment at the hospital.

In 2007, when the hospital was chosen as a pilot site for a lean implementation for the Piedmont Healthcare System, she knew that participation from the hospital’s staff would be critical. She also knew there would be a concern that lean – a methodology that aims to eliminate waste – would mean doing more with less.

“A lot of staff members first thought that we were just trying to get efficient so we could eliminate positions. We had to assure them that this was not the case; we just wanted to be as efficient as we could be so we could build the business,” she recalled. “The hard part for an organization is committing the resources, something especially difficult in healthcare. Once you do that, however, you can attack the issue in one week and come up with solutions.”

The focus of Piedmont Newnan’s process improvement project was the six operating rooms on its main campus. Jennifer Trapp-Lingenfelter and Kelley Hundt of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute helped train Piedmont staff in lean principles, an operational strategy that focuses on eliminating waste while increasing value-added work. Lean techniques improve profitability, customer satisfaction, throughput time and employee morale.

“We knew that the turnaround time on the operating rooms was our biggest issue, but when we did the value stream map that outlined the entire process, we decided to tackle something we knew could make a big difference,” said Murphy. “We decided to focus on the case carts, which are used for pulling together everything that we need for a surgical procedure.”

The case cart project began in December 2007 with an introduction to lean principles. According to Trapp-Lingenfelter, at least 90 percent of the OR staff had received basic lean training by the end of the project, a critical component of the success. A cross-functional team composed of nurses, surgical technologists and central service personnel went to the OR and the central sterilization department to observe the case cart process and note which steps were value-added and which ones involved waste.

Prior to the lean implementation, the case cart accuracy at Piedmont Newnan was approximately 50 percent. The team observed that there was no formal scheduling process for the central sterilization department, no designated person to pull together case carts, no standard process to pull the case carts and a lack of labeling and organization. These issues led to a significant amount of re-work.

After the team analyzed the process, it identified solutions that could be implemented that same week – such as 5S, a method for organizing the workplace. The team developed a new standard case cart design, labeled cabinets and carts, established parking spots for case carts, defined the path for picking items that go in the carts, alphabetized instruments, designated a return bin for unused supplies, centralized the case cart picking tools and set a minimum inventory level for all instruments. Now all case carts are pulled the day of a procedure, with the exception of 7:30 a.m. surgeries pulled the afternoon before. In addition, missing items are highlighted in yellow, the standard picking procedure is posted and one person is assigned the responsibility of picking the case carts.

“Before the lean process, whenever we had down time we would tell staff to pull case carts for the next day. They would begin to look down the list and see items that were currently in use or needed to be in use that afternoon, so we would end up with case carts that were missing instruments,” Murphy noted. “As a result of this project, we realized that our computer system would allow us to see where equipment was, so we built a location into everything. Now, if I gave you a card with a list of items that needed to be pulled for a surgery tomorrow, you could go pull everything even if you had never been in my OR before.”

As a result of the lean implementation, case carts can now be pulled in five minutes versus 20 minutes before and the overall case cart accuracy has risen from 50 percent to 98 percent. Supply items that need to be available on case carts but which may not be used with all procedures are only opened if needed, reducing waste. The bins have yielded a projected savings of $118,000 annually.

“The success of the case cart project was a win-win, so when we decided to tackle turnaround times, we had buy-in from the staff and they had already been educated on the process,” said Murphy.

In this project, the team developed a process that defined roles, responsibilities and visual controls to reduce the time required to clean and prepare an operating room for a new procedure. Prior to the implementation, the average turnaround time for patient out to patient in was 19 minutes; it now averages 14 minutes. Physician turnaround time went from 51 minutes to 40 minutes. Piedmont Newnan has also been able to increase its percentage of on-time procedure starts and decrease after-hours cases and resulting overtime pay. Moving forward, the team will set goals specific to each specialty.

The projects at Piedmont Newnan were so successful that they were recognized by VHA Georgia, part of the national healthcare alliance, VHA Inc. Last year, 10 Georgia hospitals were recognized for improving their supply chain performance, clinical care, operational efficiency and community benefit performance. Piedmont Newnan Hospital was selected as a winner of the 2008 VHA Inc. Georgia Regional Leadership Awards in the Operational Excellence category for improvements in the operating room that increased patient care and improved patient and physician satisfaction.

“Sustainability is probably the hardest part because you have to be willing to commit to it. If you conduct a 5S procedure on an area and then let it go, it’s going to end up looking like your junky kitchen drawer again,” Murphy observed. “Having someone come in from the outside gets you to think about how things can be done differently. Having another set of eyes that aren’t familiar with your process helps you open your eyes and see ways to make improvements.”

Through its Healthcare Performance Group, Georgia Tech project leaders work with healthcare professionals to conduct lean assessments, teach basic lean concepts, develop value stream maps to analyze the flow of materials and information, create quality systems and implement rapid process improvement projects. For more information on healthcare performance improvement services offered by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, contact Jennifer Trapp-Lingenfelter (404-386-7472) or (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:
The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

First Georgia Tech Edison Prize Goes to Startup Company Working to Prevent Pressure Ulcers

Image shows a custom filter on a CMOS camera chip that makes up the new multispectral imager developed to detect early stages of pressure ulcers.

A Georgia Tech startup company being formed to commercialize a new device that could help prevent pressure ulcers in hospital and nursing home patients has won the first Georgia Tech Edison Prize. The $15,000 prize will help launch the new company, which will be known as Multispectral Imagers.

Treatment of pressure ulcers costs an estimated $8 billion each year in the United States alone, but the painful skin injury can be prevented if detected early. The device, a hand-held multispectral imaging system that provides data in real-time, could be used by health care professionals to detect signs of pressure ulcers before they can be seen with conventional visual screening techniques — especially on patients with darker skin.

“We have developed a novel multispectral imager that can be integrated onto a chip,” said Fengtao Wang, a Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering graduate student who explained the company’s plan to a judging panel. “We can deliver a compact, real-time and low-cost multispectral imager to detect erythema at an early stage.”

The device would be marketed to clinics, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, hospitals and other facilities that treat patients whose mobility problems can result in development of pressure ulcers. In addition to the medical applications, Wang said the device may also have military, agricultural, manufacturing and environmental uses.

In addition to Wang, the company team includes Ali Adibi and Fuhan Liu in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Linghua Kong and Stephen Sprigle of the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA) in the Georgia Tech College of Architecture. Adibi and Sprigle are both professors; Kong is a senior faculty engineer and Liu is research engineer.

The Georgia Tech Edison Prize was established to encourage formation of startup companies based on technology developed at Georgia Tech, and was made possible by a multi-year grant from the Charles A. Edison Fund, named for the inventor’s son. Awarding of the first Georgia Tech Edison Prize was part of the Georgia Tech Graduate Research and Innovation Conference held February 8.

“Thomas Edison often receives credit for inventing the electric light bulb, but his real accomplishment was in making that device — along with the phonograph and motion picture camera — commercially successful to create new companies and new industries,” said Stephen Fleming, Georgia Tech’s vice provost for economic development and technology ventures. “Through the Edison Prize, we want to advance this kind of company-producing technology commercialization at Georgia Tech.”

The Georgia Tech Edison Fund, which is managed by Fleming, also provides seed funding to startup companies that have a close association with Georgia Tech.

“The judges for the first Georgia Tech Edison Prize heard a number of excellent presentations,” Fleming explained. “The judges selected Fengtao Wang because he had successfully identified an un-served market for the product and had begun approaching potential partners to commercialize the technology. Innovation is ultimately about turning knowledge into money.”

Approximately 100 entries were received for the prize competition from among the 300 graduate students who submitted posters to the Graduate Research and Innovation Conference. Those entries were evaluated by a committee of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and Georgia Tech faculty to create a list of 11 finalists. Those finalists were each invited to make presentations to a judging committee, which selected the winner announced at a reception on the evening of February 8.

The judging committee included:

* Jamie Bardin, former CEO of EZ-Prints
* Nelson Chu, general partner of Kinetic Ventures
* Merrick Furst, distinguished professor in the Georgia Tech College of Computing
* Gary Lee, former CEO of Flexlight Systems
* Keith McGreggor, manager of technology evaluation in the ATDC
* Nina Sawczuk, assistant director for biosciences in the ATDC
* Jim Stratigos, president of Broadband Strategies

About the Enterprise Innovation Institute:
The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail: (ude.hcetagnull@nootj).

Writer: John Toon

Piedmont Newnan Hospital and Georgia Tech Present at National Conference

Pam Murphy, director of surgical services at Piedmont Newnan Hospital, and Jennifer Trapp-Lingenfelter, a project manager for Enterprise Innovation Institute, talked to surgical leaders about how to facilitate lean projects and sustain improvements.

More than 75 surgical services leaders across the country recently heard about how Piedmont Newnan Hospital was able to decrease its turnaround times by 30 percent and increase case cart accuracy to 100 percent with a little assistance from Georgia Tech. Pam Murphy, director of surgical services at Piedmont Newnan Hospital, and Jennifer Trapp-Lingenfelter, a project manager for Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute EI2, presented at a workshop at the OR Manager conference in Las Vegas, Oct. 7. The six-hour workshop, “Implementing Lean in the OR,” explained how operating rooms can facilitate lean projects and, more importantly, how to sustain the improvements.

Lean is the practice of evaluating the steps of a process to determine the cost-value added to a final product or service. It seeks to minimize the resources required for production by eliminating waste that inflates cost and turnaround times, and decreases efficiency.

Piedmont Newnan began working with Georgia Tech in December 2007 with an introduction to lean principles. According to Trapp-Lingenfelter, at least 90 percent of the operating room staff had basic lean training by the end of the project, a critical component of their success. The cross-functional team comprised of nurses, surgical technologists and central service personnel who went to the OR and the central sterilization department to observe the case cart process and note which steps were value-added and which ones involved waste.

“A lot of staff first thought that we were just trying to get efficient so we could eliminate positions. We had to assure them that this was not the case; we just wanted to be as efficient as we can be so we can build the business,” recalled Murphy. “The hard part for an organization is committing the resources, something especially difficult in health care. Once you do that, however, you can attack the issue in one week and come up with solutions.”

As a result of the lean implementation, case carts can now be pulled in five minutes versus 20 minutes and the overall case cart accuracy has risen from 50 percent to as high as 100 percent. Whereas staff would open all supplies prior to this project, they now refer to “do not open” bins, items that may be used in a case but do not need to be opened until that time. The bins have yielded a projected savings of $118,000 annually. Piedmont Newnan has also been able to increase its percentage of on-time procedure starts and decrease after-hours cases.

Through EI2’s Healthcare Performance Group, project leaders work with healthcare professionals to conduct lean assessments, teach basic lean concepts, develop value stream maps to analyze the flow of materials and information, develop quality systems and implement rapid process improvement projects. For more information on healthcare performance improvement services offered by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, contact Jennifer Trapp-Lingenfelter, Healthcare Performance Group (404-386-7472); E-mail: (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

About Piedmont Newnan Hospital:

Piedmont Newnan Hospital (PNH) is a 143-bed, acute-care hospital in Newnan, Georgia, offering 24-hour emergency services, women’s services and general medical/surgical services. Diagnostic services include CT, nuclear medicine, MRI, PET, ultrasound and fluoroscopy. A complete range of medical/surgical services includes laparoscopic surgery, physical therapy, respiratory therapy, sleep studies and cardiac catheterization and rehabilitation. With approximately 856 employees and a medical staff of over 150 physicians, PNH is a member of Piedmont Healthcare (PHC), a not-for-profit organization that also includes Piedmont Hospital, a 481-bed acute tertiary care facility offering all major medical, surgical and diagnostic services located on 26 acres in the north Atlanta community of Buckhead; Piedmont Fayette Hospital, a 143-bed, acute-care community hospital located on Highway 54 in Fayetteville; and Piedmont Mountainside Hospital, a 42-bed community hospital in Jasper. Piedmont Healthcare also is the parent company of the Piedmont Heart Institute (PHI), which combines more than 75 cardiovascular specialists in Piedmont Heart Institute Physicians with over 30 locations across north Georgia, and the Fuqua Heart Center of Atlanta at Piedmont Hospital; Piedmont Philanthropy, the philanthropic entity for private fundraising initiatives; the Piedmont Physicians Group, with more than 100 primary care physicians in over 30 offices throughout metro Atlanta; and the Piedmont Clinic, a 600-member physician network. For more information, visit piedmontnewnan.org.

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:

The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright



Athens Hospital Improves Processes by Implementing Lean in Laboratory

As part of the lean implementation, team members removed sliding doors from shelving and doors from storage cabinets to easily identify supplies.

Debbie Guzman, laboratory director at Athens Regional Medical Center, says that implementing lean principles in a health care setting is especially challenging. Traditionally used in manufacturing, lean refers to an operational strategy derived from the Toyota Production System that focuses on eliminating waste while increasing value-added work to improve profitability, customer satisfaction, throughput time and employee morale.

“People involved in health care are about hands-on care-giving, comforting and healing,” she said. “We needed someone to help us who understood our language.”

Fortunately, Guzman found an excellent translator in Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. Through its Healthcare Performance Group, project leaders work with health care professionals to conduct lean assessments, teach basic lean concepts, develop value stream maps to analyze the flow of materials and information, develop quality systems and implement rapid process improvement projects.

“We wanted the Healthcare Performance Group to provide the training, the structure and the facilitation for a period of time to do a 5S project in the lab. By using the 5S system – sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain – we thought we could significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the laboratory,” explained Jim Pirkle, Athens Regional’s associate director of quality services. “Originally we were going to begin the project in one area, but we wanted each of the section supervisors to be involved so it could be a whole lab culture change.”

After years of inventory accrual and process adaptation, the five sections of the lab – pathology, chemistry, hematology, microbiology and blood bank – were in a physically dysfunctional environment. As the hospital expanded, team members had the opportunity to design a new lab that had the right supplies next to the right instruments, the appropriate amount of storage and counter space, equipment set up to facilitate testing processes and work processes arranged to minimize excess steps.

“We wanted to address inventory control – having the right inventory in the right place and at the right time,” said Frank Mewborn, leader of the Healthcare Performance Group. “An example that everyone could understand and relate to was gloves. We had the team estimate the glove inventory and then we actually counted it. We found open boxes and unopened boxes all around the lab. The inventory was three times higher than the team predicted. It was an eye-opening exercise.”

While the overall goal was to help design a highly-functional lab, the immediate project goals included making workspace more efficient, reducing inventory and supply costs, decreasing process steps and complexity and creating efficiencies in a timely manner. Participants included the lab director and supervisors, lab staff and quality support staff from Athens Regional, as well as Mewborn, Tara Barrett and Kelley Hundt from Georgia Tech. Five teams of 21 people learned about lean and 5S methodologies, participated in brainstorming and planning exercises and completed an “eye-opening” walk-through of the entire laboratory.

“Typically when we do a project like this, we do it in a series. We’ll pick one small area of the lab and get it really ship-shape and then use it as a model for the next area,” Mewborn recalled. “But Debbie wanted this to be a culture change in addition to a procedural change so we did all five areas simultaneously.”

In the first phase of the project, team members sorted the useful from the unnecessary. They evaluated the necessity of all supplies and equipment, cleared away trash and outdated equipment from the area and removed sliding doors from shelving and doors from storage cabinets to easily identify supplies. Most importantly, each department developed a systematic and collaborative process for sorting obviously misplaced items from useful ones.

Team members also relocated supplies, acquired supply bins and consolidated storage areas; set up a standard visual inventory system with red and green tape and developed kanban cards to display the name of the supply, the name of the supplier, the desired number of units and the item’s reorder point; and cleared trash away from the work area, thoroughly cleaned countertops, drawers and cabinets and removed redundant and unnecessary signage. Moving forward, Athens Regional has established a committee to focus on sustaining these improvements.

“Employees say this is now a much better place to work, and there is not as much clutter or confusion. In regards to patient safety, that’s a significant benefit,” Pirkle said. “As a result, we’ll have better patient outcomes as we become more accurate and timely.”

In particular, the 5S project increased the lab’s storage capacity by 64 percent, freed up counter space by 30 percent and reduced body fluid processing times from 12 to four minutes. Other results include reduced inventory and supply costs, decreased stock on hand, and greater clarity in the lab environment. Projected savings from reduced steps and time to complete work total more than $15,000.

“When the process is really lean, when you walk through the lab things are in their place. Everything is in the front and one person can go through the lines and know what needs to be ordered,” Guzman noted. “The biggest benefit of the project is that we now have some real lean champions in the lab.”

For more information on health care performance improvement services offered by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, contact Jennifer Trapp-Lingenfelter (404-386-7472); E-mail: (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@retlefnegnil.nnej).

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:
The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Newnan Hospital Partners with Georgia Tech to Implement Lean

This article is reprinted from OR Manager, Vol. 25, No. 5, May 2009.

When Pam Murphy, RN, director of surgical services at 144-bed Piedmont Newnan Hospital in Newnan, Georgia, first heard a Lean presentation, she says, “It made sense, because we are so process driven. The whole focus is, ‘What is touching the patient, and what is value added?’”

Piedmont Newnan’s ORs were the pilot site for a Lean project for the Piedmont Healthcare system. The hospital has 8 ORs on 2 campuses. Piedmont was aided by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute in Atlanta.

Developed by Toyota, Lean in health care brings clinicians and other staff together to improve processes that waste time and resources.

Involving the staff

Murphy knew the staff’s participation would be critical. She also knew they would have a concern: Does Lean mean doing more with less? Would people lose their jobs?

Backed by the administration, Murphy assured them no one would lose their jobs because of Lean.

Another concern—with staffing tight, how do you get staff off to participate in a project? How might that affect productivity numbers?

Again, Murphy had top-level support. A Lean account was set up for charging employees’ time so managers wouldn’t be penalized for lower productivity.

“That was a key decision by the executive team,” says Jenn Lingenfelter, project manager for Georgia Tech’s Health Care Performance Group, who worked with Piedmont Newnan.

Getting started

Since the Lean project started in December 2007, the ORs have conducted two 5-day Lean rapid process improvement (RPI) projects (also called kaizen events), one on case carts and the other on turnover time.

The hospital wanted to start with turnover time, but Lingenfelter urged the team to step back and take a wider view of the surgical process. In doing so, they realized one issue affecting turnover time was that case carts weren’t available and supplied correctly, which meant rework before cases.

Murphy recognized that if she and the staff could improve the case cart process, they would attract buy-in from other staff and physicians and build momentum for other projects.

These are the steps they took.

Training for staff

In Lean, improvement initiatives bubble up from the front lines, so the staff is critical to Lean. Lingenfelter began by introducing managers and an initial group of staff to Lean. By the end of her involvement, 90% to 100% of the OR staff had basic Lean training.

Selecting a team

For the case cart RPI, a cross-functional team of front-line OR staff was selected, including nurses, surgical technologists (STs), and central service (CS) personnel.
Murphy had planned for coverage 6 weeks ahead by arranging for per diem staff and having other staff report earlier in the day.

‘Going to the gemba’

After an introduction to Lean, the RPI team went to the OR and CS departments to observe the case cart process. In Lean, this is called “going to the gemba”—going to where the actual work is done. Getting the team out of their daily routine helps them to spot activities that waste time and energy.

The team split up to observe the instrument flow in the CS department, case-cart picking, and the opening of case carts and setup in the OR. They gathered baseline data by timing how long it took to pick a case and assemble a case cart.
The observers helped pique interest of the rest of the staff.

“The team would say, ‘This is what we’re looking at. What do you think?’ That helped to spread the excitement,” Murphy notes.

Mapping the process

After the observations, the team met in a conference room to map out the process on the wall. They noted which steps were value added and which involved waste.

Themes emerged:
• The preference lists were in reasonable shape but needed tweaking. The lists are computerized but didn’t include locations where supplies were stored.
• There was not a formal way of picking a case.
• The staff didn’t trust one another to pull cases accurately because everyone did it in a different way.
• Items were not placed in standardized locations on the case carts.
• In the OR, many items were opened “just in case” instead of held in reserve, as indicated on the preference list. That caused a lot of waste.

Whirlwind of improvements

The team divided into smaller teams to tackle each issue.

“We prioritized ideas and focused on those we could do that week. It was like a whirlwind,” Lingenfelter says.

One focus was a standardized case-picking method.

“In manufacturing, a distribution center is arranged so you go down Aisle 1 and pick items, then you go to Aisle 2, and so forth. With the case carts, staff were zig-zagging and backtracking,” she says.

The team worked with the IT department to develop a systematic pick path.

The preference lists were standardized to mirror the layout of the supply room so the person pulling a case would always start in the same location. Another breakthrough was to eliminate pulling all of the cases the day before. That had caused some case carts to be incomplete, meaning rework to look for supplies before a case and “stealing” from case carts already pulled.

Instead, the team decided that the only cases pulled the day before would be the first cases of the day. That reduced the space needed for case carts and eliminated incomplete case carts. The staff’s biggest concern was that case carts would not be ready, but Murphy says that has not been an issue.

A standard arrangement

The team also developed a standard arrangement of items on the cart so items needed first are on the top shelf and so forth. Other changes were:
• entering supply locations on the preference cards
• labeling shelves and bins in the automated supply cabinets
• cautioning staff not to pull cases from memory but to use the preference cards—even if they had been there for 20 years.

Updating preference cards

The team also fine-tuned the process for updating preference cards:
• The person picking the case prints out the preference card and highlights any missing items, such as an instrument set still in CS.
• The preference card goes with the case cart to the OR.
• In the OR, the OR staff write any missing items on the preference card.
• After the case, the preference card is taken to a designated location. The cards are tallied for missing items to determine an accuracy rate.
• Preference cards needing changes are transferred to another box where one person does the updates, typically within 2 or 3 days.

An ‘aha moment’

The RPI’s biggest win and greatest savings came from an “aha moment” during the observations.

“We found people had gotten into the habit of opening everything for a case,” Murphy says, even items labeled on the preference card as “do not open unless needed.”

In an easy fix, a “do not open” bin was added to the case carts. All such supplies for a case are placed in the bin when a case is picked. After the case, the bin with any unopened supplies goes back to CS with the case cart, and the supplies are restocked.

The savings—$118,000 over a year.

After the RPI, the overall case cart accuracy rate rose from 50% to 98% accuracy to 100% accuracy in November and December 2008, Murphy says.

Keeping up the momentum

Lean is meant to be a cultural change, not a short-term project. How do you keep it going?

“You have to continue to monitor and measure. Otherwise, the staff loses sight of where they are,” Murphy says. She reports the preference card accuracy rate to the staff regularly.

The spirit of Lean needs to become part of everyone’s thinking, Murphy notes.

Many of the staff have been involved in Lean projects.

“The only reason we succeeded was because of the staff,” Murphy says. “The staff were the ones who came up with the ideas.”

If a process slips, they will say, “Wait a minute. That’s not part of our Lean process.”

When performance drops off, the staff who were on the RPI teams “will sit back down and look at what’s going on. They’re the ones who own it and drive it,” Murphy says.

Success can be infectious.

“This project was so much fun,” Lingenfelter says. “You feel like you’ve made a difference. You see a difference not only in the bottom line but in the culture.”
—Pat Patterson

©OR Manager, Inc. 2009. All rights reserved. 800/442-9918. www.ormanager.com

About the Enterprise Innovation Institute:
The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Helping Georgia’s Rural Hospitals

With support from the Healthcare Georgia Foundation, the Enterprise Innovation Institute is helping Georgia’s rural hospitals learn lean techniques that improve patient care and reduce costs. Shown is Nancy Peed, CEO of Peach Regional Medical Center in Fort Valley.

To improve customer satisfaction, enhance the quality of services and reduce costs, Peach Regional Medical Center has worked with the Georgia Institute of Technology to adopt process improvement techniques traditionally used by the manufacturing industry. Already, Peach Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department has noted a 20 percent decrease in average length of stay for its patients.

“The bulk of our patients come through the emergency room, and people judge the care by how quickly they are seen and treated,” said Nancy Peed, CEO of Peach Regional Medical Center. “Peach Regional Medical Center provides care for 15,000 patients each year in our emergency department, and this volume continues to increase. That demand, coupled with an undersized and aging emergency department facility, means of course that we have throughput issues, and we are working diligently to manage and improve these issues.”

Earlier this year, Peed became aware of an initiative led by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute to help train rural hospital staff in lean principles that identify waste in processes and find ways to eliminate it, while improving customer and staff satisfaction. The project is funded by a $349,000 grant from Healthcare Georgia Foundation. Georgia Tech has successfully used the approach with hospitals in Athens, Atlanta, Columbus, Newnan and Vidalia, and its training programs have been licensed for use nationwide by the American Hospital Association.

Matt Haynes, a Georgia Tech lean specialist, began the project by leading Peach Regional staff in lean overview training. Teams of six people from the medical center then developed value stream maps – diagrams of the entire patient admitting and discharge process – for both the medical surgical nursing and emergency departments.

“We identified 30-day quick fixes and also began implementing 5S, a method for organizing the workplace,” recalled Chance McGough, medical surgical nurse manager and lean coordinator for Peach Regional. “We organized the ER and utility rooms, labeled everything in the supply closets and color-coded materials so they are easier to find. That has helped facilitate flow through the ER because we spend less time looking for things and more time taking care of patients.”

In addition to the lean implementation, senior management at Peach Regional attended a Disney Institute workshop in Atlanta titled “Common Sense to Common Practice: Lessons for Healthcare.” Topics included how to improve the patient experience and motivate health care staff while delivering top-notch health care service, an imperative in a state where approximately 85 percent of hospitals are operating at a loss, Peed said. This training was also funded by the Healthcare Georgia Foundation grant.

“If we can come up with ways from within of doing things quicker, more efficiently and with less duplication, we’re ahead of the game and we can be even more successful and provide even better care to our patients,” noted Peed. “It’s not good enough to meet customer needs; you have to exceed them every time.”

Rural hospitals in Georgia face a financial crisis because their patients are less likely than those of metropolitan hospitals to have health insurance. At the same time, hospitals in underserved areas face other competitive disadvantages as they confront rising costs.

“The current recession has impacted the rural hospitals more so than those in metro Atlanta,” Haynes noted. “Improving the process of how patients are seen is having a positive impact on both patient treatment and the hospital’s profit.”

Such facilities need to find sustainable ways to become more efficient, which is why Healthcare Georgia Foundation provided the grant to Georgia Tech. In addition to Peach Regional Medical Center, hospitals participating in the program include Upson Regional Medical Center in Thomaston, Monroe County Hospital in Forsyth, Morgan Memorial Hospital in Madison, Banks-Jackson-Commerce Hospital in Commerce, West Georgia Medical Center in LaGrange, and Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe.

The projects are expected to be completed by June 2010.

About Healthcare Georgia Foundation: Healthcare Georgia Foundation is a statewide, private independent foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to advance the health of all Georgians and to expand access to affordable, quality healthcare for underserved individuals and communities. Through its strategic grant-making, Healthcare Georgia Foundation supports organizations that drive positive change, promotes programs that improve health and healthcare among underserved individuals and communities, and connects people, partners and resources across Georgia. For more information, please visit the Foundation online at (www.healthcaregeorgia.org).

About the Enterprise Innovation Institute: The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation. For more information, visit (www.innovate.gatech.edu).

Enterprise Innovation Institute

Georgia Institute of Technology

75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314

Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail: (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Children’s Healthcare Reduces Length of Stay, Increases Patient Satisfaction with Georgia Tech Assistance

In 2008, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta saw more than 170,000 patients across three of its three emergency departments. That kind of volume demands an effective and efficient process, and staff spent the past three years developing a master facility plan to do just that. However, moving into a larger space did not yield the expected results.

“We increased the size of our departments thinking capacity would resolve turnaround time issues,” said Marianne Hatfield, director of Children’s emergency services. “But what we found was we didn’t really get any better once we moved into the bigger space; we got slower. We really had not examined whether or not our process needed to change.”

A visit to Seattle Children’s Hospital convinced Hatfield that CHOA’s processes had to change to truly improve performance. Seattle Children’s Hospital is a leader in lean management principles – a set of tools derived mostly from the Toyota Production System and widely used in manufacturing – that helps identify and steadily eliminate waste from an organization’s operations. In April of 2008, Children’s contacted Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute for assistance in implementing lean principles in its emergency department.

“We knew we had to do something for turnaround time in our emergency department and we began interviewing people to teach lean. We thought Georgia Tech was the best fit. They were nearby and we could see what they had done with some other hospitals,” Hatfield recalled. “The week they spent with us changed the lives of the physicians and the frontline staff; they all think differently now. There was so much impact to that week together, where everyone really started to examine waste in our system. I don’t think we would have been able to do that on our own.”

Kelley Hundt and Matt Haynes, lean specialists with Georgia Tech’s Healthcare Performance Group, led a team of Children’s physicians, nurses, technicians and administrators to analyze and streamline flow processes from the moment a patient arrives in the emergency department until he or she is discharged. The team, which implemented lean principles primarily on Children’s Scottish Rite campus, identified both value-added and non-value-added activities and made a number of observations.

“By studying the processes, we learned that time was being wasted because of searching, re-work, travel and variation in processes,” observed Jeff Rehberg, manager of clinical process improvement at Children’s and a 1996 industrial engineering graduate of Georgia Tech. “Our goal was to reduce the length of time children who did not need to be admitted waited in the emergency department. Using lean principles, the team developed a model for pulling rather than pushing the patients through the emergency department.”

In a push system, the emergency department tries to push a patient through triage regardless of whether or not the physician is available. The new system, dubbed TAPP (Team Assessment Pull Process), anticipates emergency department demand and has both a physician and a nurse ready before the patient is called back.

“A lot of times when you hear people talk about emergency department flow, you hear them say ‘pull ‘til full,’ and we completely changed that. Before, as soon as we had an empty room, we would put patients in it – regardless of whether we had enough staff or physicians – because we thought people were happier if they weren’t in the waiting room and in an exam room,” Hatfield said. “Now we match the two resources before the patient comes back. When the patient comes into the exam room, both the physician and nurse are there and the work starts immediately.”

The new process noticeably reduced the time patients spent waiting for a physician assessment, enhanced physician and nurse partnering, eliminated order confusion and allowed discharge from the first room if no other treatment was needed. Most importantly, it improved the patient family experience by providing a more timely initial interaction with a physician.

“I am always trying to be more efficient and take out the waste in my own practice and patient care interactions without sacrificing quality,” said Dr. Michael Shaffner, a physician who helped develop the new process and a 1987 industrial engineering graduate of Georgia Tech. “There were no new concepts, but the implementation was fresh and greatly appreciated.”

From September 2007 to January 2008, the median length of stay in Children’s main emergency department was 190 minutes. A year later, length of stay had decreased to 163 minutes during the same season. In addition, the median time patients wait between being greeted and being seen by a provider has decreased by 37 percent.

“We did a one-month trial from mid-June to mid-July 2008, and we saw some frustration because physicians had to leave some rooms in search of supplies,” Hatfield recalled. “So we took a separate 5S team another four to six weeks to standardize all the rooms so the physicians have everything they need.”

5S refers to improving organization of the workspace in five steps: sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain. As a result of the 5S project, hospital carts are labeled and stocked in the same way, blood pressure cuffs are organized by size and small items frequently used by physicians are easy to grab and keep clean. Visual cues signify when it is time to re-stock a certain supply. The cumulative effects have been good for both hospital staff and patients, according to Hatfield.

“The way customer service scores normally work is when there is high volume, the score drops, but with low volume, customer satisfaction goes way up,” she observed. “September through January we were at the 99th percentile and this has been maintained month after month. We have to believe it’s the process because we’ve not really done anything different.”

Hundt says that a critical component of Children’s success was the support and involvement of top management.

“Management would not let the team fail; they stuck with it. They followed the model of plan, do, study and adjust and have seen tremendous benefits,” she said. “Before there was a lot of wasted time with interruptions and now they are working in an uninterrupted fashion. They developed a process that allows them to eliminate interruptions.”

To continually improve the lean process, Children’s is also implementing a lean education program that focuses on transforming all employees into problem solvers that can identify and eliminate waste. Ultimately, says Rehberg, lean principles will be applied to other areas of patient care, such as operating room, inpatient units and radiology.

“After other staff members heard about the great things going on in the emergency department, they started banging down our doors,” Rehberg said. “The more people that understand the concept, the better the process flows.”

For more information on lean health care services offered by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, contact Frank Mewborn, director of the Healthcare Performance Group (706-338-0072); E-mail: (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@nrobwem.knarf).

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:
The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Zenda Technologies Offers Quick, Early Detection of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease – the progressive brain disease that slowly takes away memory and thinking skills – is the most common cause of dementia among older people. As many as 4.5 million Americans and 18 million people worldwide suffer from the disease, and for caregivers, the tolls are physical, emotional and financial. In fact, Alzheimer’s is one of the most economically costly diseases to society in developed countries.

Zenda Technologies, a new member company in Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), hopes to alleviate some of these costs with a new device that detects mild cognitive impairment (MCI), often the earliest stage of Alzheimer’s. Using patent-pending technology developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University over six years of research, patients can be screened for MCI using a brief, inexpensive test with an immersive neuropsychological device.

“Our cognitive impairment test, called DETECT™, has many advantages over current screening methods,” noted Lawrence Catchpole, president and CEO of Zenda. “It’s portable, objective and does not require a trained technician, and it’s short – seven to 10 minutes – compared to the standard 90-minute pen and paper tests used today. We also use ImTech™, our immersive screening device, so instead of needing a soundproofed quiet room, we create the quiet room in any exam.”

The test is designed to be administered before a patient develops Alzheimer’s symptoms, tracking any abnormal decreases in cognitive performance over time. Patients being tested experience a battery of visual and auditory stimuli such as pictures and words that assess cognitive abilities relative to age, gauging reaction time and memory capabilities. If a patient’s performance declines outside the normal range, additional testing and care from a neurologist, neuropsychologist or other specialist would be offered.

“One in 10 people over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s; that risk increases to 50 percent once you’re over 85. Upon initial diagnosis, 95 percent of Alzheimer’s patients already have moderate to severe disease, so catching it early is critical,” Catchpole said. “It’s a tremendous financial burden, not only on the individuals and their families, but on the health care system. We’re looking at $100 billion today, going to $1 trillion in seven to 10 years.”

To test its products, Zenda initially conducted studies with 40 patients, 20 of whom had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. They then conducted a larger, 400-patient study which delineated patients with normal, possible, probable and definite impairment. Both studies proved that DETECT was as accurate as or more accurate than the pen-and-paper test that is currently used.

Catchpole notes that Alzheimer’s is the initial but not the only focus of Zenda. Future applications will include neuropsychological testing for mild traumatic brain injury patients related to military assessments, sports injuries and emergency department evaluations, as well as HIV-associated MCI and virtual reality therapies.

Already, Zenda has received more than $3.2 million in grants and other financial resources. The company’s research was funded with a grant from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation and support from the Georgia Research Alliance through VentureLab, a program that provides comprehensive assistance to faculty members, research staff and graduate students who want to form startup companies to commercialize the technology innovations they have developed.

Becoming an ATDC member company was a natural progression for Zenda, according to Catchpole, who graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in biology and a minor in electrical engineering. Michelle LaPlaca, who along with Emory School of Medicine assistant professor David Wright created the device, is an associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. Mark Braunstein, professor in the College of Computing and director of health services for the Enterprise Innovation Institute, and John Baumstark, chairman and CEO of ATDC member company Suniva, both serve on Zenda’s management advisory board.

“We think there is a huge value in being part of ATDC, having the combined experience in terms of consultative knowledge and working with the other companies,” Catchpole said. “There is recognition in the investor community of the thorough vetting you have been through as an ATDC member company, and in today’s economy, every check mark you can get is huge.”

About the ATDC: The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) is a nationally recognized science and technology incubator that helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful companies. ATDC provides strategic business advice and connects its member companies to the people and resources they need to succeed. More than 110 companies have emerged from the ATDC.

Headquartered at the Georgia Institute of Technology, ATDC has been recognized by both Inc. and BusinessWeek magazines as among the nation’s top nonprofit incubators. ATDC was formed in 1980 to stimulate growth in Georgia’s technology business base, and now has locations in Atlanta and Savannah. ATDC is part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. For more information, please visit (www.atdc.org).

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail: (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Process Improvement: New Initiative Will Help Georgia Rural Hospitals Adopt Performance Improvement Techniques

Seven rural Georgia hospitals will participate in a new initiative designed to help increase their capacity to serve patients, improve the quality of their services and reduce costs. The benefits will come from adopting performance improvement techniques that are already widely used in manufacturing industry.

The two-year demonstration project, to be led by the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute through a $349,000 grant from Healthcare Georgia Foundation, will help train hospital staff in “lean” techniques that identify waste in processes and find ways to eliminate it.

Georgia Tech has successfully used the approach with hospitals in Atlanta, Columbus, Newnan and Vidalia. Its “lean health care” training programs have been licensed for use nationwide by the American Hospital Association.

“We want to take the techniques that have proven to be so successful in large hospitals and use them in small, rural hospitals,” said Frank Mewborn, director of the Health Care Performance Group in Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. “Rural hospitals typically don’t have the resources to hire outside consultants to help with performance improvement issues, so we very much appreciate the support from Healthcare Georgia Foundation to make this initiative possible.”

Georgia Tech project leaders will work with health care professionals at the participating hospitals to conduct lean assessments, teach basic lean concepts, develop value stream maps to analyze the flow of materials and information, and implement rapid process improvement techniques. Because the techniques rely on input from those closest to the processes being improved, each hospital will dedicate staff members to work with Georgia Tech.

“This is a substantial investment on the part of the hospitals because they must pull front-line staff from their normal responsibilities during the process improvement activities,” Mewborn noted. “Involvement of these key people is essential to the process, and it pays off long-term through better processes and buy-in from those who are on the front lines of providing patient care.”

Beyond direct process improvements, the initiative will also provide long-term benefits through senior leadership and hospital staff who have been trained in the lean techniques and who will share them with other departments and facilities. Success will be measured by improvements made during the process, and by the ability of each hospital to continue the process improvement efforts after the initiative’s conclusion.

Rural hospitals in Georgia face a financial crisis because their patients are less likely than those of metropolitan hospitals to have health insurance. At the same time, hospitals in underserved areas face other competitive disadvantages as they confront rising costs.

“A lot of rural hospitals are struggling to make payroll every month,” Mewborn noted. “They don’t have revenue opportunities from more profitable kinds of surgeries because they may not have a large enough market. They are meeting an essential need for health care in their areas, but their reimbursement rates tend to be low.”

Such facilities need to find sustainable ways to become more efficient, which is why Healthcare Georgia Foundation provided the grant to Georgia Tech.

“This grant award represents a tremendous opportunity to achieve greater efficiencies in health care quality and costs,” said Gary D. Nelson, president of the Foundation. “By taking this issue on from both clinical and operational perspectives, we can achieve sustainable efficiencies where they are most needed in our state.”

One of Georgia Tech’s first lean health care projects was with the emergency department at Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia, Ga. As a result of the process improvement activities done there, the average time patients remained in the emergency department was reduced 44 percent and physicians were able to see more patients per hour – all while maintaining a 92 percent patient satisfaction rating.

Other hospital process improvement projects done by Georgia Tech have:

  • Shortened the lead time and reduced errors in blood testing,
  • Developed a time-saving system for managing intravenous pumps,
  • Reduced errors and lead time for collecting and processing tissue samples,
  • Increased capacity by reducing room down-times between patients,
  • Boosted laboratory capacity and reduced errors through improved organization,
  • Increased physician productivity through standardized work processes, and
  • Streamlined pre-registration processes.

Hospitals that have agreed to participate in the program include Upson Regional Medical Center in Thomaston, Peach Regional Medical Center in Fort Valley, Monroe County Hospital in Forsyth, Morgan Memorial Hospital in Madison, Banks-Jackson-Commerce Hospital in Commerce, West Georgia Medical Center in LaGrange, and Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe.

The projects are expected to be completed by June 2010.

About Healthcare Georgia Foundation: Healthcare Georgia Foundation is a statewide, private independent foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to advance the health of all Georgians and to expand access to affordable, quality healthcare for underserved individuals and communities. Through its strategic grant-making, Healthcare Georgia Foundation supports organizations that drive positive change, promotes programs that improve health and healthcare among underserved individuals and communities, and connects people, partners and resources across Georgia. For more information, please visit the Foundation online at (www.healthcaregeorgia.org).

About the Enterprise Innovation Institute: The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail: (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

Writer: John Toon

ICON Interventional: Transforming Vascular Intervention

A new ATDC member company is poised to revolutionize the cardiovascular medical device industry with two innovative products. ICON Interventional, housed in the ATDC Life Sciences Incubator at Georgia Tech, is developing both a bioabsorbable stent and a new stent material that is 50 percent thinner than the most advanced commercial coronary stent available.

“We have a breakthrough alloy material. Any cardiologist who’s looked at this has been wowed, and we think we have something,” said Jack Merritt, president and CEO of ICON. Merritt has more than 30 years of experience in the medical device arena, and he led the commercialization of the original Palmaz-Schatz Coronary Stent.

ICON has developed a proprietary metal alloy dubbed Nuloy™, and its properties permit the manufacture of stents with extremely thin struts without sacrificing radial strength. A stent is a small metal tube made of wire lattice that is inserted permanently into an artery to hold it open to allow blood flow. Stents currently on the market are made of either stainless steel or cobalt chromium.

ICON is using the Nuloy material to make both bare metal stents and drug-eluting stents, which use drugs to reduce the narrowing of arteries after stent placement. The company says its Nuloy material out-performs its competitors’ wall thickness, radial strength, recoil, deliverability and radiopacity – the ability to easily see the stents in X-rays.

“It’s very important that the stent be visible on angiography while physicians are doing a procedure, and our stents are much more visible compared to other well-known stents,” noted Merritt. “An ideal system has to maintain access, have a low risk of plaque recurring and be easy to deliver. This is more than a drawing and an animation – it’s a real-life product.”

Having successfully completed its first human clinical trial, ICON announced in 2007 that it had entered into a license agreement with ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc. to develop and commercialize drug-eluting stents that deliver deforolimus, a drug that prevents restenosis (the recurrence of an abnormal narrowing of a blood vessel).

“ICON is one of the most innovative and promising medical device companies with broadly applicable technologies,” said Harvey J. Berger, M.D., chairman and chief executive officer of ARIAD. “ICON’s design and manufacturing capabilities have led to highly differentiated stent platforms and bioabsorbable polymer formulations that should enable its deforolimus-eluting stents to provide substantial benefit to patients with coronary and peripheral vascular disease.”

ICON is also developing a bioabsorbable stent called Biosorb™ that would eliminate the need for permanent, traditional metallic implants. In addition for allowing for extreme motion without strut fractures, the Biosorb stent technology incorporates a unique system of microneedles that delivers medication directly to the site of the inflammation that’s causing the narrowing. This controlled delivery of drug followed by stent absorption may result in improved outcomes. Mark Allen, Georgia Tech senior vice provost for research and innovation, serves as chief scientific consultant for ICON and has provided guidance in this area.

In February 2008, ICON was recognized by the Technology Association of Georgia as one of the top 40 most innovative technology companies in Georgia. The company, which has already raised around $15 million, will soon begin international and U.S. trials for the Nuloy bare metal stent and complete enrollment for a pivotal U.S. clinical trial in early 2009. The total worldwide stent market is estimated at more than $5 billion.

“Being a member of ATDC gives us access to facilities and programs at Georgia Tech, and we have already utilized analytical equipment that has allowed us to accelerate our product development efforts. In addition, there are expert resources on campus that always seem ready to provide advice,” Merritt said.

About the ATDC: The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) is a nationally recognized science and technology incubator that helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful companies. ATDC provides strategic business advice and connects its member companies to the people and resources they need to succeed. More than 100 companies have emerged from the ATDC.

Headquartered at the Georgia Institute of Technology, ATDC has been recognized by both Inc. and BusinessWeek magazines as among the nation’s top nonprofit incubators. ATDC was formed in 1980 to stimulate growth in Georgia’s technology business base, and now has locations in Atlanta and Savannah. ATDC is part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. For more information, please visit (www.atdc.org).

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail: (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright