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June 20, 2022

Hartford HealthCare, MIT professor launch startup aimed at reducing hospital stays 

Contributed Hartford HealthCare President and CEO Jeffrey Flaks (left) takes part in a signing agreement with MIT mathematician Dimitris Bertsimas. HHC and Bertsimas have formed a new company called H20 that intends to shorten patient hospital stays.

Hartford HealthCare announced that it has partnered with an MIT professor to launch a new company aimed at reducing patient hospital stays and improving emergency department backups through data analytics.

The company, called H20, is being created with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) applied mathematician Dimitris Bertsimas, who is board chairman and managing member.

HHC has worked with Bertsimas on numerous endeavors over the last several years.

Bertsimas said the Waltham, Massachusetts-based company – which will eventually have 15 employees including those with advanced degrees in data science and analytics as well as medical professionals including a chief medical officer – will go to market before the end of 2022.

It will use data analytics to determine the length of stay and predict outcomes in hospital settings.

Barry Stein, HHCs vice president and chief clinical innovation officer, said Bertsimas will use patient imaging lab information, laboratory notes and other data to “develop algorithms to predict” patient outcomes. The goal is to pinpoint how long patients need to stay in a hospital setting in an effort to provide better quality care, Stein said.

“For example, let’s say John Smith goes into the hospital with pneumonia. How long will John Smith be in the hospital?,” Stein said. “It could be two or three or four or six days, it is very difficult to predict. But, it’s critical to predict for many reasons because the longer you stay in the hospital, the worse the outcomes are. It’s very important to get patients out of the hospital quickly and safely. If the algorithms say John Smith has a high probability of going home in 48 hours, we know now that and can prepare him and start mobilizing everything you need to get him out of the hospital as opposed to not knowing when he leaves the hospital and not planning. Does he have a nursing home to go to? This all needs planning and you will be able to organize in advance.”

Hartford HealthCare President and CEO Jeff Flaks said the new  company – which aims to have client hospitals nationwide and across the globe – will allow doctors and nurses “to optimize the precise time to admit and transition patients out of the hospital setting in "a safer, better and more caring way.”

The new company, Flaks said, will also improve operating room and emergency department backups.

“It will allow us to manage our surgical cases in a more efficient manner,” Flaks said. “These are issues that will have a profound impact around quality and safety.”

Bertsimas said the company has raised seed money from three or four investors, but he declined to say how much.

Bertsimas, who has been with MIT for 37 years including 34 years as a faculty member, said his expectation is that by January 2024, H20 will have about 10 hospital systems as clients including “about 30% that are international.”

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