Operating rooms, intensive care units and other hospital departments are filled with tough problems and smart people working to resolve them, a combination that sometimes results in innovative ideas to improve care.

When those ideas are good enough that others might benefit from their use, getting them into a marketable form is a difficult task for most hospitals and health systems.

With that in mind, the North Carolina Hospital Association is assisting hospitals by acquiring a former nonprofit with similar intentions.

Ibiliti, now a division of NCHA, offers a program called launchibiliti that is "designed to help health systems identify, develop and commercialize transformative innovations that benefit patients," says Cindy Clark, president of ibiliti.

"The regional health systems here in North Carolina have great ecosystems around them to commercialize innovations, but there was no structure to turn those ideas into a real product or service that would benefit patients."

Mission Health in Asheville has been a major partner of ibiliti since before the linkup with the NCHA, and has filed several patents in such areas as wellness, population health management and newborn care, Clark says. Its staff have been prolific inventors of products in neonatal intensive care. Ibiliti will continue to work with Mission Health, but also wants to assist other health systems in the state.

"We provide a virtual CEO, or champion — someone with expertise in the area of the product the system developed," Clark says. "The champion oversees the product as if it were a young startup company."