Can Philadelphia transform itself into a national center for health IT innovation?


Philadelphia has taken steps to become a national leader for healthcare IT innovation, with a number of large-scale development projects taking shape.

This month, the Health Care Innovation Collaborative will announce winners from among 115 applicants for projects to improve patient care and outcomes for chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure. Those selected will be able to develop their projects while working with the collaborative’s founding member organizations.

About one-third of the applications are described as “telehealth” or mobile health communication solutions, while the next largest category is care management.

“The Health Care Innovation Collaborative is the glue that is bringing the region together – both large organizations and the small, nimbler innovators – to turn Philadelphia into the national hub for health care innovation,” Daniel J. Hilferty, president & CEO of Independence Blue Cross, said at the call for applications. “This open call for innovation will make it easier for young companies to present their ideas to the area’s established leaders in health care innovation, making it easier to refine, scale and – potentially — bring these ideas to market.”

The collaborative, first announced in May 2015, follows a national model for collaboration among health care providers, academic research institutions and the investor community. Members are Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Christiana Care Health System, Comcast, Drexel University, Independence Blue Cross, Safeguard Scientifics, Inc., Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, and University of Pennsylvania Health System.

The collaborative was founded by the CEO Council, which in turn is an initiative of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

“We hope to make Philadelphia a global leader in health care innovation, and the success of this open call moves us another step closer to that goal,” said Claire Greenwood, VP of Leadership Councils, for the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and the CEO Council for Growth.

Philadelphia also boasts other healthcare innovation centers.

The Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation managers an accelerator program supporting efforts across the University of Pennsylvania Health System to develop new health care delivery models to improve patient outcomes and care value. The Center also oversees Penn Social Media and Health Innovation Lab, which conducts and disseminates multidisciplinary research related to social media, mobile technology, and health.

Other Philadelphia area accelerators include Dreamit, launched by Penn Medicine and Independence Blue Cross, to develop more high-potential digital health startups, and University City Science Center’s Digital Health Accelerator (DHA) program which provides health startups with funding and opportunities to network with the area’s healthcare stakeholders

Also in Philadelphia is StartUp PHL, which provides health startups with seed funding, mentoring and information about doing business in the city.