How the Cincinnati startup’s health networks are connecting patients, doctors and researchers
We know that Ohio is home to world-class health care systems, research institutions and tech-enabled startups. So what happens when someone finds a way to bring all three together to drive innovation? With their signature Learning Health Networks, that’s exactly what the community builders at Hive Networks are doing in Cincinnati. TechOhio last talked to Hive when they won the 2020 Startup Culture Awards, and their team told us how they prioritize their mission of using those networks to make a real impact on people’s lives. With a few more years under their belt, the company is doing more than ever to facilitate health care innovation and collaboration, accelerating research and driving better outcomes for patients.
“If you, your family, your clinician and scientific researchers were all in a trusted, private club or community that was constantly working on solutions for the disease or chronic condition you suffer from, would that be helpful?” said CEO John Bostick. “If it was scientifically proven by one of the world’s greatest research institutions located right here in Ohio, would you join? That’s what a Learning Health Network is. It’s a community of families, clinicians, and researchers that operate through a culture of trust to collaborate on solutions for a specific disease. We’re helping provide economic value in health care with the goal of improving patients’ conditions faster. Those are the opportunities and challenges Hive is solving using a world-class, scientifically proven model that is currently being used by over 600 clinical care sites across the world.”
Hive isn’t just talking about it, they’re doing it. Just a few years since their 2019 launch, spinning out of Cincinnati Children’s, they’re bringing together researchers and clinicians in the Cincinnati area to enhance collaboration and boost patient outcomes. In particular, they’re leveraging the innovation and growth focus of their own organization and their partners at CincyTech to create Learning Health Networks that have been proven across a dozen pediatric conditions by Cincinnati Children’s.
“We have worked hand in hand with Hive to design and develop the functionality and enhancements Learning Health Networks need to facilitate data collection, managing and growing the network and collaboration between patient, clinicians and researchers focused on improving outcomes around a specific disease or condition,” said Dr. Peter Margolis, co-director of the James M. Anderson Center for Health Systems Excellence at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “We are happy to have found a digital tech company that understands what we need and is working to deliver on the needs of the networks that they serve. In medicine, collaboration is vital. It is impossible to keep up with all the advances in evidence, discoveries and breakthroughs, it takes a team.”
Margolis said that teamwork-focused approach is unique to Cincinnati, which has developed a spirit of collaboration that means innovation is moving at a rapid pace in the Queen City. That growth is boosted by the Learning Health Network, which brings 600 sites together from around the globe to form strategic links and connect thousands of physicians working toward the same goals.
“One of the things that makes Cincinnati great is the culture within our health care and tech community,” he said. “Together, we have worked to make Cincinnati a center for innovation and growth in the Midwest. Across our leading institutions, you can see collaboration at work through ongoing regional partnerships. However, we’re going beyond partnering locally and creating a global collaboration model. There are over a thousand researchers in Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation, but one globally connected Learning Health Network brings 600 sites together.”
For Mike Venerable, CEO and Managing Director of CincyTech, who helped launch the company, the potential of Hive Networks is clear. He said he’s excited by the company’s ability to see an emerging customer base and way of operating rather than an existing model, and expects the company to change the paradigm of health care.
“I have no doubt that the underlying concept from Cincinnati Children’s will transform how health care is delivered in the US, and we started HIVE to accelerate that positive change,” he said. “The demand for learning health networks grows weekly because it represents how most of the world operates today. It’s inevitable. We just want to make sure the hub of that change is in Cincinnati.”
For Bostick, prioritizing and enabling collaboration in health care is more than innovative, it just makes sense. He sees it as applying proven principles from other fields to something that affects our livelihoods. And while the COVID-19 pandemic changed other fields forever, it only added more support for Bostick’s ideas.
“Academics and scientists have proven that together, we can produce better results faster,” he said. “Why not apply that principle in health care, borrowing shamelessly and sharing seamlessly? The world has seen how it can deliver a vaccine for COVID-19 in record time. That could not have happened without trust between government, science, research, health care systems and the population in general. Why can’t we use the same approach when it comes to managing the diseases and chronic conditions of our loved ones?”
If Hive reaches its goals, they’ll be changing the way health care works on a national scale. But Bostick knows that that’s nothing new for Ohio companies. He said he’s inspired by working in Cincinnati and Ohio more broadly, where innovation in both tech and health care is the expectation. And with Ohio’s world-class health systems supporting them, he’s confident Hive can be next in a long line of game-changing innovation.
“Being a part of the innovative startup culture in Cincinnati has been very rewarding for our company,” he said. “We are able to collaborate with the best and brightest minds locally in health care and technology. Cincinnati Children’s has been a vital part of driving the thinking and development of Learning Health Networks in pediatrics and CincyTech has propelled the spread and scale of our methodology. Cincinnati has a 200-year history of innovation in social sciences and helping families with their lives, health and their welfare. It’s not surprising that a potential change in health care would come out of an Ohio community and it’s amazing that Cincinnati Children’s, Nationwide Children’s, Ohio State University Hospital System, the Cleveland Clinic, Mercy Health, and many others are already involved with advancing the work and impact of Learning Health Networks.”