As further proof of Mercy Health’s ongoing support of the advancement of innovation in our region, the Ohio Third Frontier Commission recently awarded the Bon Secours Mercy Health Foundation (known as Mercy Health in Toledo) a $350,000 Technology Validation and Start-up Fund grant. This grant will be matched by the Mercy Health Foundation to establish a $700,000 Technology Validation Fund, to support the development and licensing of health care technologies.

This is the second award for Mercy Health. In 2020, the ministry was awarded $200,000 by the Commission, which was matched by Foundation funds to establish the first of these Technology Validation Funds. Grant money will be used to develop prototype equipment which would lead to product development and the identification of startup businesses to license the technology.

In total, the Mercy Health – Toledo innovation team has garnered more than $5 million in grant funding to support local development of technological advancements.

“This second grant from the state shows the impact that Mercy Health is having at fostering technological advancements in our region and we couldn’t be more proud of the work that is going on in this very important space,” Bob Baxter, president, Mercy Health - Toledo. “Mercy Health has already seen successes in creating new and innovative ways of looking at medical devices, diagnostics, therapeutics and health information and technology. We now look forward to helping bring to life many more innovated ideas.”

One such health care challenge that has already been addressed as a result of the Ohio Third Frontier funding program has been to create software to better help navigate non-emergent dental conditions that present into area emergency rooms.

ER staff was finding that the number one reason for visits to the ER were for non-emergent dental conditions. In fact, more than 2 million ER visits each year are a result of dental pain that could be more appropriately and more economically treated at a dental clinic. As a result of this issue and subsequent solution being brought forth from members of the Mercy Health – Youngstown team, a  software solution was develop to help triage these patients to qualified dental centers, which in turn reduced the burden on the emergency department, increased follow-up compliance, reduced opioid prescribing and improved overall care.

Implementation of this process at Mercy Health – St. Elizabeth Youngstown resulted in a 78 percent compliance rate among patients needing this help.

“This is just one example of the types of solutions that can be created when we cultivate innovation and grow ideas,” said Matt Sapara, VP of operations and government affairs. “For years now, Mercy Health has been putting dollars into what really matters – solutions.”

A committee made up of external stakeholders has been established to review and ultimately approve proposals coming forth for funding. Criteria for an award includes the presentation of a proprietary technology, process or business method that would help build a competitive edge; innovations with the potential to scale and serve multiple markets; and innovations eligible to be licensed as an Ohio start-up.

The Ohio Third Frontier TVSF program has a goal to create greater economic growth in Ohio based on start-up companies that commercialize technologies developed by Ohio institutions of higher education and other not-for-profit research institutions, such as Mercy Health.