Interview with NYeC Exec. Director, Dave Whitlinger
Health 2.0 sat down with the NY Digital Health Accelerator’s Dave Whitlinger to learn about the work the organization is doing with digital health startups in New York. If you’re interested in applying for the program, please visit http://digitalhealthaccelerator.com/
1. Why have you decided to launch another Digital Health Accelerator class?
The first Accelerator program surpassed our expectations and was tremendously successful. Having seen the impact the program had we felt that continuing the Accelerator could have a positive impact on New York State’s Health IT ecosystem by helping to foster digital health innovation in the state. The eight members of the Inaugural Class, who graduated in May, 2013, launched 17 pilots with their provider mentors, created over 120 new high tech jobs in New York, and raised over $12 MM from sources outside of the program. In addition, two of the companies have been acquired. We are very proud of the accomplishments of the first Accelerator Class members and we are excited to the launch the 2014 program.
2. How did the alliance with the Partnership Fund for New York City come about?
The New York eHealth Collaborative was formed in 2006 to advance health care information technology) in New York State and to develop the Statewide Health Information Network of New York, or SHIN-NY, a technology platform will connect electronic health records across New York State. The Partnership Fund for New York City was formed as a private fund with a civic mission to create jobs in New York City. The collaboration between our two organizations is logical: the Partnership Fund is committed to company and job growth and the New York eHealth Collaborative wants to accelerate health It innovation using top talent. The timing of the Accelerator is perfect: New York has one of the most vibrant digital health markets and is increasingly becoming a center of entrepreneurial growth.
Healthcare providers are finding their “play it safe” culture isn’t conducive to breakthrough innovation.
Facing the inevitable deflationary pressures being put upon the healthcare system, innovation is critically needed. Having spoken with several innovation groups in health systems, most examples of “innovation” are decidedly uninspiring. Primarily, it is due to the fact that virtually all of their decisions have to go through the prism of how new ideas will fit with current businesses — a guarantee that will doom so-called innovation to be little more than incremental improvements. Consequently, increasing numbers of hospitals and health systems are smartly allocating money to venture funds that have free reign to find truly disruptive new businesses.
Health systems have taken various approaches such as becoming a Limited Partner in venture funds like Health Enterprise Partners. Some of the larger systems, such as HCA and Dignity Health, have their own venture arms. A new development is a much smaller organization establishing their own venture fund. Implicit in this approach is a much more hands-on approach than as an investor in a 3rd party venture fund. Rex Health Ventures is an early example of venture-capital investment funds in the country started by a community, nonprofit hospital (Rex Health Care). The fund is being launched with an initial $10 million investment from Rex Healthcare and will help finance the most promising innovations among new medical services, tools and technologies.
Just recently, the New York eHealth Collaborative and the New York City Investment Fund held an awesome information session for the New York Digital Health Accelerator at the chic digs of the TimesCenter in NYC. The Accelerator is a program for early — and growth — stage digital health companies that are developing cutting-edge technology products in the areas of care coordination, patient engagement, analytics and message alerts. The event was open to the public and provided thorough detailing of the accelerator, insights as to the types of solutions that participating providers hope to receive and – of course – some networking. If you missed this exciting event, you can check out the recorded stream. If you are interested in the program, access the application.
Twelve companies will be invited to participate in the nine-month program. A review committee — comprised of hospital leadership, technology experts, clinicians and investors — will select the companies. The committee will evaluate applicants on their product innovation in the four focus areas, the track record of their management team and their company life-cycle stage.