Dr. Lloyd Hey
Compassion Through Understanding
Dr. Lloyd Hey grew up flying with his Dad, an aeronautical engineer and flight instructor, who also taught him how to fix just about anything as a “tinkerer.” At age 16, he was hit by a car, suffering a severe 3B open tibia fracture with 2 inch loss of bone. While amputation was initially suggested in the emergency department, Dr. Mark Pitman offered to try to help rebuild the leg and his life, which took 11 surgeries, 3 months in the hospital, and a couple years of additional therapy. The external fixator had strength problems, which inhibited healing, so Dr. Hey applied his tinkering and redesigned the frame, which Dr. Pitman installed and it decreased the pain and enhanced stability for bone healing. Dr. Pitman also introduced Dr. Hey to new experimental therapies including electrical stimulation of bone growth, and got a chance to meet Dr. Bassett, a pioneer in that area in the late 1970’s. These experiences led to a vision of combining his patient experience, engineering and innovation to directly help patients.
For many years since then, Lloyd has passionately pursued making this vision real, through a journey blessed with many great mentors, education and leadership opportunities, challenges and successes. After learning how to walk again on his reconstructed leg, he trained at MIT in Electrical Engineering. At MIT he designed, built and tested a chamber device that could keep living cartilage alive, while applying mechanical and electrical forces to better understand Wolff’s Law and the basic science that might help to modulate cartilage growth and repair. He then got a chance to further the engineering/medical combined vision through the Harvard/MIT Health Sciences and Technology (HST) MD program, where he began to study clinical outcomes research, and how such research could actually change healthcare policy, also obtaining a Master’s Degree at the Harvard School of Public Health. As an orthopedic resident in the Harvard Combined Orthopedic program, he saw a huge problem in the area of a lack of available data for clinical outcomes research, and actually built a database system for the Boston Children’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery, which enhanced their ability to do clinical research. He was also inspired by Dr. John Hall and John Emans at Children’s to also pursue helping children and adults with spinal deformities through the use of internal “fixators”, which he saw transform the lives of many. This led Dr. Hey to Duke, where he served as an adult spine fellow, and then joined the Duke faculty, serving in the academic field for almost 10 years. During that time, he was asked to roll out the software he had built as a resident across all of Duke, and to create a startup company, called MDeverywhere to fulfill the mission for thousands of physicians around the country for 20 years.
A Commitment To Reshaping Lives
In 2005, Dr. Hey started Hey Clinic for Scoliosis and Spine Surgery as a “living, learning lab” to focus on bringing “Compassionate Process Control” to the point of care using lean and aviation safety principles. He has performed over 6,000 spine surgeries, and continues to be clinically active with his feet firmly placed in the “clinical trench” where the problems can be seen, and then gradually solved. He is now working with other surgeons from around the country to see how information technologies and new “crew management” techniques can help bring aviation-level patient safety to healthcare. He also seeks to mentor the next generation of surgeon innovator leaders, so that future patients and families can be served with greater safety, effectiveness and efficiency built on the foundation of compassion: recognizing the preciousness of every person – a compassion Lloyd experienced as a patient and will never forget. Lloyd loves to share through inspirational talks and just daily interactions with people how compassion drives care for the individual patient, but also to work hard to make things better for future patients through shared vision, team and company building, and great persistence. Lloyd has been blessed with a wonderful wife Lori of 31 years, and two grown children, and still enjoys “tinkering”, and serving in his local church and community, and works hard to keep margin in his life as another key way to maintain joy in the journey.