Monday September 8, 2014 0 comments
By Steve Porter
CENTENNIAL - Colorado's digital health sector is healthy and growing rapidly, thanks in part to the formation of PrIME Health Collaborative, a statewide organization of digital health-related startups, established companies and individuals.
And if PrIME Health's supporters have their way, the state will soon be the top hub for digital health companies in the nation.
PrIME Health Collaborative was established in 2012 under the umbrella of Denver South Economic Development Partnership. It has quickly blossomed into a community of more than 450 health care administrators, physicians, technologists, academics, entrepreneurs and investors with the goal of improving health care outcomes and reducing costs through the commercializing of emerging technologies.
Jake Rishavy, director of innovation and entrepreneurship at Denver South EDP, said PrIME Health Collaborative is an offshoot of Denver South that will become a stand-alone 501©3 nonprofit organization with a statewide board of directors by year's end.
"Its mission is really to maintain and advance Colorado's digital health leadership nationally," Rishavy said.
That, of course, means more digital companies coming to Colorado with more jobs, more investment and economic activity.
Rishavy said Colorado was ranked No. 6 in the nation in 2013 and is now home to 102 digital health-related companies.
And while that's not too shabby, Rishavy says PrIME Health is looking to make Colorado the No. 1 digital health state in America.
"That's the goal," he said.
Over the last two years, PrIME Health has been reaching out to the state's digital health sector and hosted three digital health summits, with the most recent held in April.
That event in Lone Tree drew more than 375 targeted attendees from the health care sector and included keynote presentations by Dhruv Jaggia of IBM Watson, Michael Palmer of Aetna Innovation Labs, Jason Keller of Welltok and Peter Hudson of iTriage.
The event also featured an Innovators Showcase that featured 25 Colorado digital health startup exhibitors.
Rishavy said the last two years have been a time of foundation-building for PrIME Health, with big things soon to happen.
PrIME Health Collaborative is partnering with INDUSTRY, a new Denver-based business incubator, and others to create a 12.5-acre campus in downtown Denver dedicated to health tech innovation.
An official announcement with details on the campus will be made Sept. 17 at INDUSTRY during Denver Startup Week.
INDUSTRY already is home to a Denver office of Fort Collins-based tech incubator Innosphere, which established a digital health incubator program shortly after INDUSTRY opened this spring.
"Innosphere has successful programs and methodologies for working with technology companies, and we have taken these existing programs and added several dimensions to customize an incubator program for digital health," said Mike Freeman, Innosphere CEO.
"To accomplish this, Innosphere partnered with INDUSTRY Denver and the statewide PrIME Health Collaborative to launch a digital health-specific incubator program - the first of its kind in Colorado for aspiring entrepreneurs in this emerging industry."
Rishavy said PriME Health's partnership with Innosphere was a big step in moving Colorado toward becoming the top digital health state.
"We view the incubation of these (startup) companies as a path to achieving that top-state status," he said. "We're honored to be partnering with Mike and the Innosphere, which is the gold standard for incubators in Colorado."
In addition to Innosphere and INDUSTRY, PrIME Health has several other heavyweight partners. They include Colorado BioScience Association, Rockies Venture Club, Innovation Pavilion, Colorado Technology Association and TiE Rockies.
Rishavy said PrIME Health is picking up speed as it moves into its third year.
"From 2013 to 2014 we more than doubled our (summit) attendees to 400, added an expo hall and had four national-level speakers," he said.
"I think the most valuable thing we've learned is it's an opportunity to build relationships with most of these 102 companies and to help them look for a path to accommodate their growth," he said.
Rishavy said a key motivation for founding PrIME Health Collaborative was to help the state's health care industry manage the change inherent in the Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010, otherwise known as Obamacare.
The act, among other things, requires the health care industry to be more innovative and efficient in reducing health care costs and to improve the patient care experience.
"These are big challenges," Rishavy said. "The Affordable Care Act is imperfect, but it is creating new incentives for these (emerging) technologies.
"We see the startup ecosystem as being a critical provider of the innovations that are going to get us there."
On Sept. 9 -- as a pre-event to Colorado BioScience Association's 2014 BioWest Conference and Expo -- PrIME Health Collaborative will hold the final pitch event for the Finance Track of its inaugural Digital Health Challenge.
The event is part of $150,000 in total cash prizes provided by the Colorado Health Foundation funneled through the Digital Health Challenge.
The final pitch event will be held on Sept. 17 at INDUSTRY.
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