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New opportunities for entrepreneurs from MedCity CONVERGE

Christina Hernandez Sherwood on July 15, 2013

At MedCity CONVERGE, a national, executive-level summit on healthcare innovation in Philadelphia last week, stakeholders from the business community, government, and health insurers provided a glimpse into new opportunities for life science and digital health entrepreneurs.

Only through trial and error will entrepreneurs discover what healthcare will look like a decade from now, said Steven Krein, co-founder and CEO of StartUp Health. The healthcare transformation will have a dividing line, he said, and it’s not only traditional entrepreneurs who will play a role. Entrepreneurially-minded people at every large organization will have a hand in making health data and information meaningful, Krein said. “What kind of person will be a part of what’s happening?” he asked. From Krein’s perspective, the healthcare transformation hinges on connecting those entrepreneurially-minded people with the right stakeholders.

One of those stakeholders is the federal government, according to another CONVERGE discussion. Former healthcare entrepreneur Bryan Sivak, who now serves as chief technology officer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), described in his keynote efforts to connect innovators with government data. With so many new startups being created by people who lack healthcare backgrounds, but who have a personal experience that leads to their innovation, Sivak said he wants to make government data available to more entrepreneurs. The best place to start, he said, is HealthData.gov, the government’s one-stop shop for health data. “We believe innovation is the direct result of the freedom to experiment,” Sivak said.

Health Datapalooza, a national forum featuring innovative and effective uses of health data, was born when the HHS made its data available to people outside government to do “interesting and amazing” things, Sivak said. Another effort, which Sivak hopes will launch in a few weeks, is a partnership with Codeacademy to develop classes around specific HHS data sets. But perhaps the most exciting for life science and digital health startups is the newest round of HHSentrepreneurs. The program brings innovators into the federal government for a 12-month stint to “break some eggs,” Sivak said, working on transformative projects and challenging the status quo. In this round, with applications open until Aug. 16, HHS is seeking innovators with skills in design thinking and organizational design, he said.

In another CONVERGE discussion, Independence Blue Cross president and CEO Dan Hilferty described the health insurers’ partnership with Penn Medicine to launch DreamIt Ventures, a Philadelphia-based health care accelerator. Ten startups were selected to receive $50,000 in seed money, move to Philadelphia, and participate in a business boot camp, he said. If the companies get up and running, Hilferty added, they’ll remain in Philadelphia and become part of the Independence Blue Cross network.

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Category:  Execution  Creation  Ideation  Tags:  event, MedCity CONVERGE

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