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Why Not Grand Rapids? Health care Innovation as an Emerging Industry in Grand Rapids

As Andrew Heuerman, product development specialist, Spectrum Health Innovations, participated in the 10-week Emerging Leaders Series, one clear thought rose to mind: the opportunity to make Grand Rapids a leader in health care innovation is ripe and ready to realize.

Andrew Heuerman
Andrew Heuerman

“Through my involvement in the Emerging Leaders Series, I learned about some of the movers, shakers, and industry leaders in town, like Amway, Studio C, Meijer, and many more—the businesses and organizations leading the way in our city—and Spectrum Health is among those leaders,” Heuerman says.“These are the local organizations leaving a big footprint and helping to shape Grand Rapids. What that means is that we, too, have a great opportunity to make an even larger impact.”

The Emerging Leaders Series is a program sponsored by the Grand Rapids Chamber. The program features conversations with community leaders; visits to innovative community programs and initiatives; networking with a diverse group of peers; an orientation to the city of Grand Rapids and what makes it a unique community; and personal leadership development. The program typically has about 40 participants.

“What makes Spectrum Health unique is that our size and reach allows us to leverage the innovative ideas of our incredible employees throughout our System to make a real difference in the lives of so many patients,” Heuerman says.

In part, he says, this is due to the way that the team at Spectrum Health Innovations inspires employees to work collaboratively with the community, developing ideas into real-world solutions to improve patient care.

Heuerman lists off just a few of many such great ideas that are marketable and in use today—or are very close to that point from all across the System. As an example, he points to Carol Health , an innovative platform that gives people the ability to request on-demand service for patients living at home and seeking basic nursing care from licensed and insured registered nurses. The patient, a family member or caregiver, can call or log in to Carol’s app or website and request a registered nurse visit, pick the service needed, and a registered nurse soon arrives at the patient’s door. It’s a service that will help patients continue to live at home while assuring caregivers and family members of timely, medically appropriate care.

“Innovation is happening all across our System, not just here at Innovations,” he says. “You’ll see another example of innovative thinking in MedNow” Whether a service or technology, these are just two examples of how Spectrum Health stands at the forefront of innovation in health care. New health care products and technologies, surgical tools, medical devices, hospital equipment, business models, or software — Innovations takes the best ideas from employees who work in health care every day and understand keenly the needs of patient care. From the seed of an idea, Spectrum Health Innovations often works with community partners, researches markets, designs solutions, creates and tests prototypes, even assists new start-up companies to take these ideas to marketable products.

“What we’re doing is unique,” Heuerman says. “Spectrum Health can be known as more than a leading health care system in West Michigan. The problems we solve are identified at Spectrum Health, but they are problems encountered by many in health care. By tackling these difficult problems with local resources and support, we are creating the infrastructure for Grand Rapids to rise to the top in health care innovation. So I ask, why not Grand Rapids?”

If you would like to contribute and submit an idea, contact us at or by calling 1-IDEA 616.391.4332.