We salute five leaders in venture capitalism, academic medical centers, digital health startups, health policy, and health insurance leading healthcare innovation in the Commonwealth.
In 2018, investors filled the digital health sector with over $8 billion in funding. Investments of this magnitude enable digital health companies to move forward with innovation to advance healthcare. One VC leader heading this charge is A.G. Breitenstein, formerly of Optum Ventures. A.G., a lawyer turned entrepreneur turned venture capitalist, is driven by a fearless instinct to build things. Brought into healthcare through a career as an attorney for homeless youth on the streets of Boston during the height of the HIV epidemic, A.G. has learned that the key to transforming the health industry is listening and translating. Entrepreneurs are “necessarily delusional optimists,” pitching their dreams and waking up every day willing to experiment and ready to make them a reality. When it comes to investing in companies and revolutionizing the future of health, A.G. has one statement of advice; If it’s just money, you should always take the shot.
The convergence of payment reform and technology proliferation have kickstarted an era of innovation in healthcare. To guide healthcare through this revolution, many have turned to academic medical centers for leadership. One AMC leader bravely waving this flag is Lesley Solomon of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. As the first ever Chief Innovation Officer at Dana Farber, Lesley is a true trailblazer when it comes to fostering innovation at academic medical centers, having founded the iHub innovation center at Brigham & Women’s Hospital before coming to Dana Farber. Adopting innovation, especially digital health innovation, has the potential to revolutionize healthcare delivery and completely transform healthcare systems. But this transformation is not possible without fearless revolutionaries willing to take risks. Speaking on an innovation panel at MassChallenge HealthTech’s 2019 Finale event, Lesley was given the question: If you had a magic wand, what healthcare issue would you address? Her response was truly signature of a revolutionary leader: Wipe the slate clean. Create a whole new model. Foster innovation to build a business that works for our healthcare system, not the other way around.
Did you know that almost one quarter of all data breaches in the U.S. occur in the healthcare sector? With the rising advancement of cloud storage and ubiquitous electronic health record adoption, data privacy concerns providers and patients alike. Digital health startups are tackling this challenge head-on, creating solutions that can revolutionize healthcare security. Arun Buduri of Pixm is one such leader. Incubated at top startup accelerator MassChallenge through both its core Boston program and most recently through the HealthTech program, Pixm leverages cutting edge computer vision and innovative phishing research to lead phishing protection into the next generation. This ground-up approach has the power to revolutionize industry and make phishing attacks obsolete.
Put simply, Massachusetts has the digital health innovation infrastructure to support explosion in company growth and the use of digital health to address key challenges. Laurance Stuntz, Director of the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at the MassTech Collaborative (MeHI) is the public official leading the daily efforts to make Massachusetts the best place in the world to start and grow a digital health company. As a key leader in the Massachusetts Digital Health Initiative, MeHI is the designated state agency for coordinating health care innovation and accelerating the adoption of health technologies to improve health care in Massachusetts. Innovation of this magnitude in the government sector enables health policy to embrace digital health and create an ecosystem where innovation can grow, develop, and revolutionize healthcare.
Driving innovation requires collaboration and partnership between healthcare systems and digital health startups. An industry leader providing a shining example of best practice with this sort of partnership is Rick Weisblatt of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Rick recognizes that there is an increased need for smooth transitions of digital health technologies that seamlessly modernize, streamline, and consolidate operations. To facilitate this adoption, Rick and Harvard Pilgrim have been a Champion with the MassChallenge HealthTech program since its launch in 2016. This year they were named Champion of the Year and partnered with MassChallenge HealthTech 2019 Diamond Winner 1upHealth along with 2019 cohort members DynamiCare and Buoy Health and previous cohort members Cake, 3Derm, and GainLife. The results of the MassChallenge HealthTech program have proven that strategic partnerships between healthcare organizations and digital health startups are at the heart of the healthcare revolution.
Revolutionizing health in the Commonwealth is a collective challenge that requires cooperation of all industry leaders. Investors must be committed to giving startups the start they need. Academic medical centers must create a space that fosters the growth of innovation and takes risks for healthcare delivery advancement. Digital health entrepreneurs have to look at healthcare with a fresh perspective, driving innovation from the ground up. Government leaders must embrace innovation and create policy that builds and grows a digital health ecosystem. Healthcare organizations must be willing to embrace change head-on and collaborate with new digital health technologies to create a whole new system.
For more industry leaders, check out our stakeholder directory!