By Mary Vanac
Information has been the main course on Paul Jensen’s professional plate for most of his career.
Add a generous portion of product technology and education experience and you get someone who seems ideal to help Simbionix USA — a Cleveland, Ohio-based medical training simulator maker — gather and serve information in new ways to help healthcare professionals better their practices.
Jensen also could be the one to create a new revenue stream for Simbionix by harnessing some of the data generated to drive medical product development and clinical trial design.
“I’ve worked for some of the largest information companies in the world, like the Thomson Corp. and Wolters Kluwer,” Jensen said in a recent interview. But he’s also worked for start-ups. Jensen went to work for Aplia Inc., an online education publishing company, as vice president of engineering in 2002. That was the year the San Carlos, Calif.-based start-up debuted its online homework system for higher education.
Simbionix hired Jensen in September as general manager of its medical education division, which was created in 2006 with the acquisition of eTrinsic Inc. of Louisville, Colo. (The division has since moved to Denver.)
In 2008, the division released Version 6.0 of its Learning Management System, which delivers online medical education modules to tens of thousands of users. Now, “what we’re trying to do is understand how our simulations fit within the whole workflow of the healthcare professional,” Jensen said.
Before Jensen arrived at Simbionix, the company developed a strategy called MentorLearn “that is developing didactic training around the simulators,” he said. MentorLearn software enables simulation instructors to remotely manage a student’s training. For instance, a director might assign homework to refresh a student on human anatomy or rehearse the steps in a procedure before using a simulator.
Because trainees are more likely to use mobile devices rather than computers to access training information, the company launched an e-learning mobile application in April, Jensen said.
Simbionix and its simulators — from the company’s Mentor line to its Rehearsal Studio PROcedure — traditionally have focused on helping healthcare workers get their initial skills to do procedures ranging from laparoscopic hysterectomies to bronchoscopies. But some of the company’s simulation training is beginning to follow professionals farther into their careers.
“With some of our simulators, we are getting into skills transfer … to teach healthcare professionals how to use new devices,” Jensen said.
Relationships with institutions such as the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons help Simbionix to enable professionals to earn certifications for certain types of procedures.
“The question is, how do you continue the cycle? What happens at the point of care?” Jensen asked. Rehearsal Studio “is the application of simulation to the clinical environment, using patient-specific information,” he said. With Rehearsal Studio, a physician can use a patient’s unique anatomy to rehearse a procedure.
“What kind of information are we gathering in those processes that feed back into the medical device research and development process, or the clinical trial process?” Jensen asked. “The term we used at Thomson was ‘data exhaust.’ How do you leverage that data exhaust for the next step in the process?”
Google leverages data exhaust by selling search terms to companies that do product development, he explained.
“Those companies use that as market research to feed their product development process,” Jensen said.
Simbionix could do the same thing for medical device manufacturers and clinical trials professionals. And the same information that informs product and trial design could “facilitate the training and mentoring that goes on within the professional community,” he said. “Simulations are a key way to facilitate communication and training.”
Jensen has developed business strategies around leveraging his company’s data exhaust, as well as exhaust created by others — information like video recordings of medical procedures that are shared on the Internet.
“We’ve presented the strategies to our board of directors,” he said. “Given the go-ahead, we would hire staff and start to explore those opportunities more directly.”