I’d like to tell you the story of an idea. It’s an idea that I believe will revolutionize how we innovate, how we work, and how we do business. Last week, my team and I shared this idea with the world for the first time. We sent out a press release announcing the decision of three highly regarded healthcare organizations – Terumo BCT, the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, and the American Diabetes Association – to join Catalyst HTI, a first-of-its-kind real estate development that when completed will bring together relevant stakeholders from across the healthcare industry.
And in that press release, we gave this idea a name: the industry integrator.
But this idea goes back several years, back to 2012 when I co-founded MedPassage, a digital health company that directly connected the buyers and sellers of surgical implants. My co-founder and I were responding to the ACA’s mandate to reduce the cost of healthcare by bringing together hospitals and implant manufacturers via an online platform – effectively cutting out the middleman in implant sales when that middleman wasn’t delivering clinical value.
During this time, we went through all of the hardships that characterize the digital health startup experience. We had to develop our product and refine our business model while chasing after the investment money that would keep our company afloat. We had to convince established organizations to take us seriously while dealing with the profound disconnect between how things were done in the startup world and how they were done in the healthcare industry.
But during this time we also witnessed the power of collaborative work spaces to encourage entrepreneurs, technologists, and creatives to work together. We observed how prominent features of the innovation economy like accelerators and incubators could give startups the support they needed to get their products to market. And we saw how organizations like Prime Health could transform digital health ecosystems into communities of clinicians, developers, academics, and policy-makers committed to re-imagining healthcare.
In December of 2013, a private equity group in southern California acquired MedPassage, and I went on vacation to celebrate my successful exit from the company. Upon returning to Denver, I received a call from Jake Rishavy, one of the founders of Prime Health. Jake informed me that he and Jeffrey Nathanson, Prime Health’s CEO, wanted my help in turning Prime Health into a statewide organization. Rock Health had just identified Colorado as one of the nation’s top-ten digital health clusters, and Jake and Jeffrey planned to enhance our ranking by extending Prime Health’s reach from Denver to the entire state.
While working with Prime Health to make Jake and Jeffrey’s vision a reality, I gained a unique perspective on the inner dynamics of startup communities. I met the founders of innovative early stage companies who were using digital health technology to significantly improve care while dramatically lowering its cost. And I observed established healthcare organizations waking up to the possibility of a widespread transformation of the American healthcare system.
A series of questions started running through my mind. How could we bring everyone in the healthcare industry together – from single-person startups to Fortune 20 organizations – to accelerate innovation? How could we take the collaborations made possible by Prime Health’s monthly meetings and turn them into an everyday reality? And, most importantly, how could we give the health-tech community – this growing collection of technologists, clinicians, and entrepreneurs from across the healthcare industry – a home?
And that’s when I knew what I had to do.
Integrating the Healthcare Industry
Catalyst HTI won’t be an incubator. It’s going to contain several of those. It won’t be an accelerator, either. It’s going to have more than one of those, too. And it definitely won’t be just another co-working space. Catalyst HTI’s co-working space will be located on its fourth floor, where we will house over fifty health-tech startups – strategically positioning them between the established companies on the building’s lower floors and the anchor tenants on its upper floors to encourage serendipitous collisions between the members of our community.
Instead, Catalyst HTI will be an industry integrator, a real estate development that will bring together relevant stakeholders from across the healthcare industry to accelerate that industry’s current reimagining. From established healthcare organizations like Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) to digital health startups like BurstIQ, from business accelerators like Boomtown to advocacy organizations like the ADA, and from medical schools like CU Anschutz to global health-tech companies like Terumo BCT, everyone in Catalyst HTI will work side-by-side to create, develop, refine and bring to market cutting edge innovations that will fundamentally transform healthcare as we know it.
The industry integrator concept makes this level of collaboration possible by taking the different members of the healthcare industry and integrating them at the point of innovation. By connecting health-tech startups with the resources and partnerships they need to thrive while simultaneously linking established healthcare organizations with the innovators who are re-imagining their industry, Catalyst HTI will bring value to all of its tenants. But most importantly, it will provide a space where everyone – whether clinicians, entrepreneurs, investors, executives, academics, or policy-makers – can work together to create the future of healthcare in America.
The reimagining of our broken system won’t happen with startups alone. It won’t happen with only established healthcare organizations, either. I firmly believe that it’s going to take all of us working together to give this country the healthcare system it so desperately needs. Which is why I’m convinced that industry integration at the point of innovation is absolutely necessary if the current transformation of the American healthcare system is going to deliver on its promise to improve the health of our citizens by providing high-quality, affordable care.
But it’s going to take all of us. Remember, whether you’re an executive at a Fortune 20 organization or the founder of a single-person startup, if you’re passionate about reimagining healthcare, you have a seat at our table.