Back to the Future: Past RIV Winners Talk About What the Recognition Meant for Their Careers

Larry Beresford


The Hospitalist. 2013;17(9):1,35-38. 

In This Article

Vineet Chopra, MD, MS, FACP, FHM

Title: Assistant professor of medicine

Institution: University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor

Year: 2009

Riv: "MComm: Redefining Medical Communications in the 21st Century" (innovations)

Eearly in his career, Dr. Chopra was curious about how to improve the way patient care is delivered in the hospital setting. He was particularly interested in the inordinate amount of time hospitalists spend every day on communication.

"I saw one-way paging systems as a problem for communication between members of the medical team," he says. "Doctors get paged and break off from what they're doing to return the page—to someone who often isn't there to take the call back. Sometimes the system gives us the wrong number or a cryptic message that makes no sense."

A technological solution to this problem, which he and hospitalist Prasanth gogineni, MD, conceived, designed, and created, then tested at the University of Michigan, is called MComm. Dr. Chopra describes it as a novel, uniform way of messaging for the entire medical team using wireless servers, PUSH technology, and iPhones. MComm was built around existing hospital workflow and patient-specific task lists, assigning priority to each message and documenting that it was delivered. The junior faculty members submitted an abstract about their innovative application, not really expecting it to get accepted. But when it won the poster competition and was selected for a plenary presentation, things got busy in a hurry. Specifically, the university hospital's Office of Technology Transfer took a keen interest.

"We met with a number of people who had business experience in the health-care-technology space and found a CEO for the company we formed to develop MComm," Dr. Chopra says. "I found myself getting pulled into it very quickly, with a lot of conversations about commercialization, revenue-sharing models, intellectual property, and the like."

But running a company was not something Dr. Chopra wanted to do. Two years ago, that company, Synaptin, went one way and he went another—he stayed at Michigan as a medical researcher. He remains deeply interested in how care is delivered to hospitalized patients, but with a focus on such patient-safety questions as how to prevent negative outcomes from indwelling venous catheters.

"Winning the poster competition opened doors for me—there's no doubt in my mind," he says. "We demonstrated the ability to deliver a project of significance, from concept to prototype, without formal training in this area. If we didn't have that recognition, I'm not sure I would have been ready to step into a research career as quickly. It helped me realize that medical research was what I wanted to do."