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Digital health initiative launched in Massachusetts to create digital health hub

Massachusetts is trying to get in on an approximately $32 billion market opportunity, according to Goldman Sachs. And that opportunity is the digital healthcare industry.

Last week, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty  Walsh, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, executives from the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (MACP) and Boston Children’s Hospital announced a public-private partnership designed to increase the state’s competitiveness in the digital healthcare business, according to a release.

“This emerging industry cluster has the potential to become a powerful driver of job creation across the Commonwealth, while also unlocking new advances in improving patient care and lowering health care costs,” Baker said.

The goal of the project is to build a stronger and more connected health ecosystem statewide by bringing public, private, academic and healthcare leaders together. Also, to support digital health startups, a digital health innovation hub will be established with the help of the city of Boston, Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech (MeHI), and the MACP. The hub will provide space, programming and an industry network for digital health startups. MassChallenge, Inc., a nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs, will manage the digital health innovation hub. The MACP also announced several other measures to help accelerate growth in the Massachusetts digital health sector including new ways to provide funds for digital healthcare companies that are starting up, located in, or planning to relocate to Massachusetts. In order to make it easier for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and private companies to do business with academic institutions in Massachusetts—including the University of Massachusetts, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University and Partners HealthCare—the MACP has also helped develop  standardized software and technology, sponsored research agreements, and user guides.

The governor and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash have designated MeHI as the state’s implementing agency. Baker also announced he will file legislation to expand MeHI’s efforts to include activities to promote and support the digital health sector.

MeHI will also reside in the same facility as the digital healthcare hub in Boston to help lead development of a market access program. That program is intended to help digital health innovations get to market faster by building strategic connections between entrepreneurs, healthcare providers and state agencies.