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Health care innovation at startup speed

Here's what happens when tech innovators team up with physicians


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The American health care system benefits when tech innovators with fresh ideas and a passion for speed are able to work hand-in-hand with physicians who bring real-world clinical experience and a focus on patient care.

CPMG, one of the state’s largest multi-specialty medical group practices and providers of care to the members of Kaiser Permanente Colorado, has teamed with the Boomtown Healthtech Accelerator in Boulder to select, mentor and support promising health tech startups from around the world. Through this partnership, CPMG supports innovative entrepreneurs striving to reconstruct and electrify parts of our current practice model to find a solution established providers can’t see while mired in the day-to-day challenges of patient care, insurance pressures and business considerations.

At Boomtown, selected teams come to Boulder for a 12-week intensive program to help fully develop their ideas. As a part of their support, physicians from CPMG serve as mentors to the startup teams by bringing their experience with patients in the “real world.” Such collaboration can help turn great ideas into useable, real-world applications more quickly than either one working alone.

In the first Boomtown class, we’ve seen some promising companies:

  • Agathos allows physicians to turn electronic health record (EHR) and other disparate data into an easy-to-use, actionable dashboard to improve practice efficiencies and patient outcomes.
  • Patientory is developing a free and easy way to store and manage health information and get the best answer to any healthcare question.
  • Mindful Labs helps users enjoy the health benefits of introducing mindfulness into their daily lives and measuring cortisol levels with monthly hair sample analysis.
  • Visible Hand is deploying IRIS — intelligent resident interaction system — a real-time, resident-centered information on secure mobile devices which allows care staff to respond appropriately and proactively to resident behavioral needs.

Each of these companies has a concept that could have significant impact such critical areas as reducing costs, improving physician/practice efficiency or improving patient outcomes — in some cases all three! However, these startup companies would face nearly insurmountable odds to get their product in front of clinicians or work with actual patients without the Boomtown/CPMG alliance.

Imagine a company that brings an innovative concept to a clinician only to find one or more critical components render the product anything from too limited to completely unusable. In some cases, physician input earlier in the development cycle would have prevented such an issue. Through the Boomtown/CPMG alliance, selected companies receive not only access, funding and mentoring, but they are offered — and are open to — feedback. CPMG clinicians and administrators mentor these teams in a critical light, make recommendations and ask challenging questions with a goal of making the idea work in the best possible way in the real world of patient care.

“CPMG physicians have front line health care experience, and also diverse backgrounds in entrepreneurship, business, administration and health policy,” said Richard Sharpe, a physician mentor in the Boomtown program. “In partnering with Boomtown startups, we have helped them review, refine and change their product design, core mission, business plans, target audiences, statistical algorithms, and user interfaces, among other contributions, based on our own experiences working in health care.”

The bottom line is this: no single entity — clinicians, insurance companies, medical groups such as CPMG or entrepreneurs like the Boomtown companies we support — can fix the U.S. healthcare system alone. However, supporting innovative thinking and collaborative development through innovative approaches, we can address our collective issues from all sides.  We believe this has the potential to bring ideas forward to reduce costs and improve patient outcomes.

Tom Base is the managing director for Healthtech at Boomtown. Katie Richardson, MD, is pediatrician, Highlands Ranch and Director of Physician Experience for CPMG

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