OC Business Journal | Credit Collaboration for Cripe’s Place on List


HEALTHCARE: CHOC boss cites Innovation Institute as latest example

Vita Reed   Monday, May 11, 2015

You’ll find Kimberly Chavalas Cripe among this year’s OC 50, the Business Journal’s annual inventory of the most influential members of the community of business here, and the subject of this week’s Special Report (see pullout for profiles).

You’ll also find that Cripe is quick to tell anyone who might ask that she didn’t get there alone.

The veteran chief executive of Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) has long emphasized collaboration and partnerships as core values behind the institution’s efforts to advance pediatric healthcare.

The latest example is CHOC’s status as an investor-owner of the La Palma-based Innovation Institute in late March.

The pediatric hospital, which had patient revenue of $426.6 million for the 12 months ended in September, the most recent reporting period, paid about $5 million to become part of the institute.

CHOC joined Marriottsville, Md.-based Bon Secours Health System and St. Joseph Health in Irvine as owners of the new enterprise, which is made up of an innovation lab, investment fund and several service companies.


Cripe sees the lineup dovetailing with another of CHOC’s values: innovation.

“…We have been working on embracing innovation and finding ways within our healthcare enterprise to identify opportunities … and build tools and systems to accelerate innovation that exists here,” Cripe said on a recent morning at her office in Orange.

Participating in the institute “is one of many strategies that we are working on so that we can be a national leader in pediatric healthcare innovation,” she added.

Cripe said the institute, which was founded in 2013 with a $40 million investment from St. Joseph Health, has “a really well-defined infrastructure” that will allow its doctors’, scientists’ and employees’ ideas to be developed.

“When you invest $5 million in something, you do a ROI—you don’t just invest money and not know what’s going to be the benefit of it,” Cripe said. One benefit is to offer another avenue for innovation in a marketplace where it can be “hard for community hospitals without an academic engine behind them to really find ways to take the innovative ideas that come forward and do something with them.”

“In an organization like [CHOC], it’s sometimes difficult to really vet how feasible they are,” Cripe said. “People can have great ideas, but you’ve got to be able to evaluate them and you’ve got to monetize them, and you’ve got to be able to implement the ideas.”

CHOC saw the $5 million buy-in as more than just a standard investment.

“We looked at it as an investment into building a better pediatric enterprise,” Cripe said. “It was really about our strategic plan and supporting our values.”

She later noted that it was important for CHOC to diversify its revenue because it cares for a large population of children who are under “safety net” programs, such as Medi-Cal and California Children’s Services, both of which account for 60% of revenue at the main campus and 37% of revenue at its satellite campus in Mission Viejo.

The Innovation Institute’s relationship with the Cleveland Clinic, an Ohio-based academic medical enterprise, was of particular interest to Cripe and her colleagues.

“We all recognize that is an organization that excels in innovation, so having an opportunity to not have to develop that all ourselves and to be able to build on the expertise on others just makes so much sense.”


Innovation Institute Chief Executive Joe Randolph talked about CHOC’s efforts:

“Over the past several years, CHOC has taken a leadership position in pediatric innovation through their ‘Medical Intelligence and Innovation Institute,’ known as MI3.

“They have held conferences that have brought together some of the best and brightest from children’s hospitals across the United States and from around the world to focus on best practices and ways to support pediatric innovation,” Randolph said.

He credited Cripe, Chief Operating Officer Matthew Gerlach, and Dr. Anthony Chang, the hospital’s chief intelligence and innovation officer, for “great leadership and passion in leading this effort.”

“Having CHOC join the Innovation Institute will allow us to collaborate and advance the efforts that have already begun,” Randolph said.

CHOC’s decision to participate in the institute was influenced by what Cripe called a “long-standing relationship” with St. Joseph Health, which was previously based in Orange and operates St. Joseph Hospital-Orange.

She said Randolph “is someone I’ve worked with for decades.”

CHOC has also forged other affiliations and worked on various collaborations in recent years. One of them is with UC Irvine Health, the healthcare enterprise of the University of California-Irvine, along with St. Joseph Hoag Health, which is based in Irvine.

The pediatric hospital helped prepare itself for innovation last fall after receiving a $5 million grant from the Sharon Disney Lund Foundation and following the appointment of Chang, a pediatric cardiologist who had served as director of CHOC’s heart institute.

Chang “helped us kick-start a process, so we really engaged physicians and many of our employees. We have a running list of things that we’ve already been identifying [and] working on,” Gerlach said.

Representatives of CHOC and the Innovation Institute have met and are deciding on what ideas will be worked on, he said.


Gerlach noted that CHOC launched a website that attracted more than 200 ideas from its workers.

He said one of the ideas CHOC will bring to the institute involves a device that injects therapeutic nanoparticles into a patient’s brain after a stroke and stimulates those nanoparticles to initiate healing.

The hospital is also giving three doctors “innovation time” through funds from the Lund foundation grant, Gerlach said.

CHOC has also hosted several innovation symposiums where pediatric hospitals gathered to share information.

Gerlach said the next is scheduled for June.