Inspired Inventor

Rajeev Chaudhry, M.B.B.S., is focused on creating new solutions for patient care through technological innovations.

When one of his projects that helps care teams catch serious diseases sooner — at a time they are more treatable — turned into a successful software venture worth millions, Dr. Chaudhry waived his personal interest in the company to support Mayo Clinic. That selfless act helped support continued research and development of software solutions for patient care and placed him among the ranks of Mayo Clinic’s most generous benefactors.

“To me, the best part about the project is that it helped my colleagues and it helped improve the quality of care for our patients,” Dr. Chaudhry says. “A lot of patients were diagnosed early with breast cancer or colon cancer because they had the screenings. They were cured because of the help from the software solution.”

When the Noaber Foundation sought a like-minded organization to support a software application for health care, the foundation found a fit in Mayo Clinic. Together, the organizations created a startup called VitalHealth Software. Dr. Chaudhry was chosen in 2006 to be the physician leader for the development of the first solution from VitalHealth called Generic Disease Management System (GDMS) for Mayo’s practice.

“I got very lucky,” he says humbly.

The system supports physician decision-making for the delivery of preventive services and management of certain chronic conditions. It has served millions of patients in the primary care practices of Mayo Clinic’s campus in Rochester.

In 2017, Royal Philips acquired VitalHealth Software.

Solving an Unmet Need

Dr. Chaudhry joined the Mayo Clinic Division of Community Internal Medicine in 2000, and the next year as the practice chair he began projects to improve care processes. Primary care physicians were asked to address all preventive services each patient might need every time the patient came in for a visit.

“Even if someone comes for back pain, we would say, ‘Make sure you address their breast cancer screening, their cervical cancer screening or Pap smear needs, colon cancer screening, vaccinations, diabetes, hypertension,’” Dr. Chaudhry says.

To do that, physicians had to review the patient’s record to see what type of services were required and when. Though nurses were helping, it wasn’t always possible to complete a review because of time constraints or complex medical histories.

“That’s what led me to this thought: What if a software system could look for all that information in the record and see, according to the guidelines of Mayo knowledge, what care the patient needed and electronically brought the knowledge to the provider?” Dr. Chaudhry says. “We would help our providers and improve our care.”

From the first version of GDMS in 2007, there was a steady improvement in quality care metrics. Primary care physicians and nurses saved valuable time during appointments, which allowed them to focus on other needs of patients. Patients stayed on track with screenings or treatments, which was lifesaving in many cases.

Studies undertaken of GDMS also showed that the ability to provide better quality of care improved providers’ job satisfaction.

Within two months of the first release, GDMS had spread throughout Mayo Clinic’s primary care practices in Rochester. The system was intuitive and did not require any training to use it.

Dr. Chaudhry credits his primary care colleagues for using the system and for helping further develop the functions of GDMS. Over 11 years, the software was enhanced 15 times. “They started sending us more ideas, and we continued to build those into the software solution.”

The Value of Teamwork

Dr. Chaudhry’s generous gift makes him a Mayo Alumni Laureate in the Doctors Mayo Society, the highest level of recognition in a program that honors alumni, physicians, scientists and leaders for their philanthropy to Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Chaudhry often says how extremely lucky he is to work in his field, to be at Mayo Clinic, and to collaborate with talented and dedicated colleagues.

He embraces all of Mayo Clinic’s values, but especially that of teamwork.

“People work so well together at Mayo. We can put together different disciplines — physicians, nurses, desk staff, Information Technology, Business Development, Administration — in one room, and they all work together as a team,” Dr. Chaudhry says. “We also have opportunities to work with others outside of our organization with special skills that can serve our needs and also create business opportunities. All of that contributed to the huge success of GDMS at Mayo.”

Dr. Chaudhry is hopeful that as the deputy director for the practice at the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery he can help colleagues looking to transform their practices with innovative solutions.

The center has experts in data and information sciences, innovation, design, and health care delivery research that can help practice teams seeking to transform care. By focusing on the patient, the center upholds Mayo Clinic’s core value — the needs of the patient come first — amid an ever-evolving health care landscape.

“In the group practice model, no one person knows everything,” Dr. Chaudhry says. “Everyone brings unique knowledge and skill sets, and if we just put those together, we accomplish so much more than any individual discipline could, both within Mayo and with like-minded collaborators.

“We celebrate team excellence, innovation and the Noaber Foundation’s philanthropic partnership at Mayo.”■

Learn more about the foundation whose dedication to making the world a better place led them to support early-versions of VitalHealth Software.

Philanthropy fuels the mission of Mayo Clinic. Visionary benefactors are the vital catalysts behind our pioneering patient care, breakthrough medical research and world-class educational programs.

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