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Healthbox Boston: Riding the medtech wave!


Tonight was Healthbox Boston’s Community Open House held in their Boston headquarters in Kendall Square. The evening brought out the Boston healthcare entrepreneur scene, including Lesley Solomon, Joshua DiFrances, and Melissa Spinks with the Brigham and Women’s iHub and Andrea Ippolito (our queen bee of hackathons) with MIT Hacking Medicine, to hear the CEO and Founder Nina Nashif discuss what the big plans for Healthbox are. Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Residency Program Director of Psychiatry at Tufts Medical Center, Daniel Karlin, MD, MA, described the evening as “palpable excitement as we head toward the start of a new Healthbox program; applying lessons learned from past experiences, folks are more optimistic than ever about our prospects to impact the healthcare environment in meaningful ways.”


Enjoying the good food and bountiful refreshments

As we all know from the market, healthcare innovation and technology is hot, and Healthbox is riding that wave. They are expanding their program, and tonight, they announced the new Executive Director for Healthbox Boston, Josko Silobrcic, MD, MPH, MS. Dr. Silobrcic definitely brings experience and a little grey hair, but he also brings the connections and knowledge of big healthcare IT companies from his experience with the IBM Watson Project and of academic powerhouses, as he continues his academic appointment at the Harvard School of Public Health (for the last 13 years). I particularly appreciate the nod to clinicians with Healthbox bringing in a trained physician as Executive Director.


Farpoint Ventures Jim Ryan, leading investor in medtech company Medstro.com (social network for physicians) with Healthbox Executive Director Josko Silobrcic, MD, MPH, MS

Healthbox Twitter leaked a secret board room shot of the new Executive Director Dr. Silobrcic and Director Ateet Adhikari meeting with a large group of older gentlemen in dark suits. What did this mean? We got the inside scoop at the Open House tonight. This was a large group of Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors all very interested in healthcare innovation. Our source tells us that this just continues to support how hot the healthcare innovation market is, as it seems that more and more investment money is looking towards healthcare.


Mysterious Board Room leaked by Healthbox Twitter

What did Founder Nina Nashif tell us tonight? We learned that the core business of Healthbox will continue to be its accelerator program, which sources high-potential innovation and advances early-stage companies. The accelerator program is a four month boot-camp that challenges the companies’ business models to ensure a stronger product, clearer value proposition, effective team, and a sound revenue model. They have expanded and are now in 6 cities including Boston. The others are Tampa Bay, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Nashville, and London. One member from the audience asked, “Why these cities in particular? What can a city do to bring Healthbox to them?” Ms. Nashif responded that she needed a robust academic system from which to source entrepreneurs, a healthy healthcare system to pilot and test the product, and a supplied of parties interested in funding healthcare entrepreneurism. Well, folks, it doesn’t get much better than Boston, right?


Healthbox Founder and CEO Nina Nashif

By now, we know that there are many other accelerators for start-ups to chose from, including StartUp Health and Rock Health…not to mention Partners who has renamed their Ventures and Licensing department to “Partners Healthcare Innovation” and has given out $1M in innovation and development grants, the Boston Biomedical Innovation Center which is offering $13M in NIH funding to innovators, and Brigham and Women’s with their new iHub. What will make Healthbox different? Tonight, Ms. Nashif announced two more initiatives, the “Solutions” and the “Foundry.” With “Solutions,” Healthbox is forming a community of early-stage adopter provider organizations to serve as customers of the innovative technologies. Excellent! MedTech Boston has always said that you have to be able to pilot to make a healthcare product work. In medicine, you need to have the clinical trials and proof of hard endpoints to make it into the clinical setting. We call this “evidence-based medicine.” And in Boston, that means working with the big academic institutions. Is this perhaps why we saw all of the BWH iHub– Lesley Solomon, Joshua DiFrances, AND Melissa Spinks (new Manager of Innovation Strategy and Operations)–at this cozy event?


Packed crowd of Boston medtech entrepreneurs, including Lesley Solomon, Director of Strategy and Innovation at BWH, in the middle of the room

The “Foundry” will take the Healthbox accelerator curriculum inside leading healthcare organizations, helping them develop the internal capability to advance business concepts through an organized process and test their commercial viability. Fascinating.

Finally, we know all you over-eager entrepreneurs want the inside scoop of how to get into Healthbox’s third class, which is currently accepting applications. So we asked and captured on video the answers straight from the top–from Founder Nina Nashif and Executive Director Dr. Josko Silobrcic! Please watch the video…

But if you’re still confused after the video, which sounds like they generally want passionate people, we got the breakdown of their current portfolio. Our source tells us that 20% of their current companies are direct to consumer (such as Withings, FitBit, etc; which Healthbox says they’re frankly very surprised by the uptake), 27% improve operation efficiency, 36% take healthcare outside of the hospital, usually into the home (think telehealth monitoring), and 10% analyze the data. Yes, I’m missing 7% and waiting for Healthbox to clarify my numbers (there was an open bar at the event).

Best of luck to my bright-eyed entrepreneurs! I hope this inside scoop helped!


Very yummy. Not confirmed, but I suspect a Tatte Bakery temptation.

Jennifer M. Joe, MD

Jennifer M. Joe, MD

    My passion is healthcare optimization, whether that is with innovation, making scientific discoveries, or improving delivery. I love bringing people and ideas together and making projects work. With this, medicine exists to improve lives, and I will strive to always help patients and those around me.

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