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Massachusetts Launches Comprehensive Digital-health Initiative

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and executives from the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (MACP) joined leaders from across state government, healthcare, and the technology sector at Boston Children’s Hospital this week to announce a comprehensive public-private partnership designed to accelerate the competitiveness of the Commonwealth’s digital healthcare industry.

“Our administration is committed to making Massachusetts a national leader in digital health by partnering with private industry, convening key stakeholders, and addressing market gaps,” Baker said. “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.”

Digital health, or eHealth, is a rapidly growing sector at the intersection of healthcare and information technology and, according to a report by Goldman Sachs, represents an approximately $32 billion market opportunity over the next decade. The sector spans a variety of technologies including electronic health records, consumer wearable devices, care systems, payment management, big-data analytics, and telemedicine, among others, and has close connections to the state’s technology and life-sciences sectors. Massachusetts is well-positioned for success in digital health as host to world-class healthcare and academic institutions, a strong startup culture, significant venture-capital investment, a healthy life-sciences sector, and roughly 250 existing digital-health companies.

The initiative will bring public, private, academic, and healthcare leaders together to build a stronger and more connected statewide digital-health ecosystem. To support digital health startups, the city of Boston, Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech, and MACP announced the establishment of a digital-health-innovation hub. The initiative will provide space, programming, and a strong industry network for digital health startups and will serve as a Boston hub for the industry. Programming through the hub will be managed and operated by MassChallenge.

MACP also announced several private industry-led initiatives that will help accelerate growth in the digital health sector, including innovative approaches to provide private funds for digital healthcare companies that are starting up in, located in, or planning to re-locate to Massachusetts.

MACP also facilitated the development of standardized software, technology, and sponsored research agreements and user guides to make it easier for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and the private sector to do business with academic institutions, including the UMass system, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, and Partners HealthCare.

MACP will also host a second year of its Mentorship Speaker Series, with a focus on digital health, connecting high-level, experienced industry leaders across the state with entrepreneurs of emerging companies to discuss how to start and grow a successful tech business in Massachusetts.

“The innovation economy comprised of the life-sciences and digital-technology sectors is the future growth engine of our Commonwealth,” said Dr. Jeffrey Leiden, who led the Digital Health Initiative on behalf of MACP. “It has been a privilege for me to lead this outstanding group of public- and private-sector partners toward our shared goal of accelerating the growth of the digital-healthcare industry in Massachusetts. With the strengths of our universities, academic medical centers, and life-sciences companies, Massachusetts is uniquely positioned to succeed in digital healthcare, and I’m thrilled to be part of the team that will make it happen.”

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