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BWH Looks To Solve Critical Challenges With Startup Partnerships

On Thursday, September 28, Brigham and Women’s Innovation Hub (iHub) speaker series met at the hospital’s building of Transformative Medicine to discuss their digital health innovation, both internally and with local-area startups. Speaker Adam Landman, Chief Information Officer of the BWH, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and attending emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, had an open discussion with Laurance Stuntz, the Director of the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech, or MeHI. They discussed the current climate for health care startups collaborating with major academic medical centers like BWH.

Stuntz gave an overview of PULSE@MassChallenge for which the state agency MeHI provides funding. He explained how winners of the Digital Health Lab contest of PULSE@MassChallenge will be paired with major institutions to accelerate the startups’ impact and growth. “The only way you get into the program is if somebody has a challenge that we think they may have a chance at solving, and they are interesting enough to invest time and energy in,” Stuntz said.

Landman explained that the iHub is interested in collaborating with health care startups from PULSE@MassChallenge and elsewhere. He explained that one of iHub’s key missions is “to really accelerate the innovator’s ideals, and sometimes that involves matching with industry partners to accelerate idea formation.” For clinicians and staff within the hospital who have an idea that fulfills a clinical need, iHub provides a website where they can explain their idea and potentially be paired with external industry leaders. He further iterated that iHub’s second major goal is “to recognize challenges within the hospital and pair with startups to help solve those problems.”

The iHub is particularly excited to announce its collaboration with the external health IT business Redox, which is focused on improving the friction between different technology systems within the hospital. Redox plans to solve this problem by using one interface for all the hospital data. Landman explained that transferring data between the hospital and startups will be much smoother as Redox can map data through their own standardized interfaces and startups can work directly with the Redox interface to access that data. Landman emphasized that access to integrated data is the biggest challenge to healthcare because of health data’s confidential nature.

Landman conceded that launching programs from startups can be an arduous process. “I will say that working with hospitals and academic medical centers takes time. Startups want everything to happen very quickly, but in our institutions sometimes things take a little bit longer and there are good reasons for that. We have to make sure that the programs are safe so sometimes a little bit of extra time spent up front saves dividends down the road.”

However, Landman firmly believes in the collaborative process in digital innovation between internal hospital staff and clinicals and external startups. “It’s a challenging process and when both parties are truly committed and really see the value, at the end of the day, we get through all the obstacles.”

Leah D'Sa

    Leah D’Sa is a Junior studying Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College. She is currently a copyeditor for the school newspaper the Berkeley Beacon as well as Poetry Editor for the literary magazine the Emerson Review. She is looking to begin her career with health technology writing as she seeks to combine her lifelong love of writing and science.

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