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7 Health Tech Accelerators You Should Know About

Posted on November 6, 2013 I Written By

James Ritchie is a freelance writer with a focus on health care. His experience includes eight years as a staff writer with the Cincinnati Business Courier, part of the American City Business Journals network. Twitter @HCwriterJames.

You don’t have to look far to find a health IT accelerator. At least, not as far as you used to.

Programs to give healthcare entrepreneurs a boost are appearing throughout the country, providing opportunities for innovators who don’t live in a major tech hub — and don’t want to move to one.

Here are a few accelerator programs to know about, with special attention to those away from the coasts:

  • The Iron Yard is based in Spartanburg, S.C., and seeks companies involved in areas such as wellness apps and enterprise software. It provides $20,000 in seed capital and three months of mentoring and workshops in areas such as fundraising, user interface development and lean startup methodology.
  • Healthbox is operating programs in Chicago, Nashville and Jacksonville, Fla., in addition to Boston and London. (OK, technically, Jacksonville is on the East Coast, but still.) It’s a four-month program that provides startups with $50,000 in seed capital along with office space, mentoring and training. Healthbox asks for 7 percent in equity. According to the accelerator’s website: “Competitive applicants will address a specific and pressing challenge in the healthcare industry. For example, solutions of interest may improve patient engagement, provider effectiveness or preventative health and wellness.”
  • DreamIt Health started in Philadelphia and has expanded to Austin and Baltimore. The Baltimore version, which will last four months, is selecting as many as 10 firms from around the world and offering as much as $50,000 in stipend money and professional services. Applicants should be “working to use IT to solve significant industry problems faced by key healthcare stakeholders including providers, payers, public health, biopharma, device makers, employers and patients themselves.”
  • The Sprint Accelerator, powered by Techstars, is a program launching in Kansas City with a focus on mobile health technology. The three-month intensive mentorship program will begin in March, with startups receiving as much as $120,000, including $20,000 in seed funding and an optional $100,000 convertible debt note.
  • Health Wildcatters is a new accelerator in Dallas that invests as much as $35,000 in each firm. It’s open to a broader range of startups than some of the other programs, stating on its website: “Many healthcare IT, SaaS, digital health and mobile health companies are a fit, but we also encourage medical device, diagnostic and even pharma companies to apply.” Wildcatters takes an 8 percent equity stake. The site explains that in Texas parlance, wildcatters are “independent oil entrepreneurs willing to take chances with regard to where they drill” and that their success comes from “low operating costs and the ability to mobilize quickly.”
  • XLerateHealth runs a 10-week program in Louisville, Ky. Selected teams get a $20,000 stipend and donated professional services worth an estimated $50,000. The goal is to “help early stage healthcare companies build out their commercialization strategy, which includes their intersection with Payers, Providers (hospitals, ACOs, nursing homes, home health and group practices), and customers (employers and/or consumers).” XLerateHealth receives a 6 percent equity stake.
  • Innov8 for Health operates several programs in Cincinnati. This month it’s holding a Health Startup Showcase in which firms present their solutions to entrepreneurs, potential customers and investors and compete for $5,000 in cash and in-kind services. Last year it helped to launch seven companies in a 12-month accelerator program providing each firm with $20,000 in seed funding.

There are, of course, plenty of other programs. Paul Sonnier has compiled a more comprehensive list at Story of Digital Health.

With the rise of open platforms and the growing number of support networks, health IT entrepreneurship has become a viable career option for many.

And, now more than ever, it’s possible to innovate close to home.

For Health IT Opportunities, Look to the Chaos

Posted on October 9, 2013 I Written By

James Ritchie is a freelance writer with a focus on health care. His experience includes eight years as a staff writer with the Cincinnati Business Courier, part of the American City Business Journals network. Twitter @HCwriterJames.

Sunnie Southern, founder and CEO of Viable Synergy, spends her days pushing for health IT innovation. Her firm provides products and consulting services for commercialization and community engagement. One of its best-known projects is Innov8 for Health, a Cincinnati-based tech accelerator. Southern, a registered dietitian who started her firm in 2010, talked about her work and about EMRs — as they are and as they could be.

Sunnie Southern

What does Viable Synergy do?

Viable Synergy specializes in commercializing assets that transform health. It offers consulting services and proprietary products that support the development and deployment of innovative health solutions from concept to customer. This year and next, Viable Synergy is focused on the institutional market by helping hospitals and provider organizations to generate new (non-clinical) revenue from currently available assets.

You are part of the Health Data Consortium. What is that?

The Health Data Consortium is a collaboration among government, non-profit and private sector organizations working to foster the availability and innovative use of data to improve health and health care.

Viable Synergy leads the Ohio Affiliate of the Health Data Consortium through our Innov8 for Health program. HDC Affiliates host events and build local networks of groups including startups, entrepreneurs, health companies, universities, government agencies and other innovators to create an ecosystem around using open data to improve health outcomes for individuals and communities.

Do you think EMRs are reaching their potential in improving health?

We are at the very beginning of a new era of leveraging technology to improve health and care and reduce costs. EHRs are an essential component of gaining access to health data to make better decisions.

What is missing from the equation?

Time. We need time to bring the plans to fruition to increase engagement and activation.

The essential elements are in place:

  • Standards that provide direction on necessary features and now interoperability/accessibility (MU2)
  • Incentives to increase purchase, implementation and meaningful use
  • Awareness within the health care community and beyond about the importance of ensuring that providers and patients have access to the critical information they need to make informed decisions

What goals do you think we should be prioritizing in health IT right now?

Interoperability, integration and convergence. There are so many places that providers and patients must go to access critical information that it is difficult to get a complete picture of a patient’s history or a physician’s patient population. I hope that we will begin to see tools that allow for data to be aggregated from multiple sources and provided in an easily consumable fashion. We’ll also need the appropriate regulations to secure and support the aggregation.

What’s the most exciting thing you see happening in health IT at the moment?

The whole system is being turned inside out and upside down. Everyone across the health care continuum is focusing on how to perform their role better. Innovative solutions are popping up everywhere. The chaos is creating massive opportunities. We really have a chance to make a difference. I believe it is the best time ever to be an entrepreneur in health care. So glad to be a part of it!