Last Thursday, we gathered on the top floor of Kaiser Permanente’s Lone Tree Medical Offices, a soaring structure of red brick, gray steel, and gleaming windows. The building sat on a hilltop in Lone Tree, a far southern suburb of Denver. To the west, beyond a cluster of neighborhoods, stood the snow-covered Rocky Mountains. To the east, the empty, golden prairie rolled off into the distance below a cloudless blue sky.
We were a few dozen clinicians, healthcare executives, and health-tech entrepreneurs, standing in a vast, unfinished room with exposed ceilings and sheetrock walls, talking about another building that hadn’t even been built yet.
“We’re the first group to use this space,” said Brent Bowman, VP of strategy and patient experience at Kaiser Permanente. “Someday it will be taken over as a clinical space, but today we’re using it to design the Catalyst HTI community.”
When completed in early 2018, Catalyst HTI will be a first-of-its-kind, 180,000 square foot health-tech industry integrator. By housing the startups, incubators, and accelerators of Colorado’s thriving health innovation ecosystem alongside major healthcare organizations and global tech companies, Catalyst HTI will encourage the development of new ideas, new processes, and new technologies.
But this bold project will only fulfill its promise to reimagine our industry if it has a passionate and determined community at its core. Thursday’s gathering was intended to lay the foundation of that community, so that when Catalyst HTI opens, its members will be ready to build the future of healthcare together!
“My hope is that people get to know who one another are, what they’re excited about, and what they’re looking for,” explained Christi Zuber, the founder of Kaiser Permanente’s Innovation Consultancy. “I want them to feel that they can create this, that they’re united in this, and that they’re on this journey together.”
Zuber spent the afternoon leading the members of the Catalyst HTI community through a design session. The clinicians, entrepreneurs, and executives present considered a variety of questions. How might we best understand our users’ needs? How might we model a community of open innovation and collaboration? How might we develop environments and skills for innovation and design?
Kaiser Permanente hosted the design session for two reasons. First, it plans to open a health innovation center in Catalyst HTI, where it will deliver primary care using the latest technologies. Kaiser Permanente is eager to get to know the startups that will be its neighbors in the building, because those startups may very well be developing the innovations it will use at its new, cutting edge clinic.
But Kaiser Permanente also understands that healthcare is on the verge of a momentous change, and that in order to continue delivering the highest quality care to its patients, it needs to collaborate with the innovators who are transforming our industry. According to Zuber, Thursday’s gathering wasn’t just about designing the Catalyst HTI community; it was also about Kaiser Permanente learning how to engage with the larger health innovation ecosystem.
And that ecosystem was out in force last Thursday! Near the back of the room stood Erik Carver, the founder of StandLogix, a startup that’s driving the adoption of standing desks. Off to the side sat Jason Ayachi, the CEO of RampUp, a smart recruitment platform that matches talented nurses with healthcare providers. Scattered throughout the crowd were innovators like Lily Bragg of BurstIQ, Sumanth Channabasappa of Eyebot, and Amir Torbati of Veloce Digital.
It was an inspiring sight, to say the least, because Catalyst HTI is intended to bring about industry integration, the merging of two distinct worlds, the healthcare system and the startup community. For years now, innovators have been knocking on the doors of our industry, waiting for someone to answer. At last Thursday’s design session, it was clear that those doors were finally starting to open, and that the clinicians, executives, and administrators standing behind them were all committed to working with innovators to reimagine healthcare!
At the end of the session, everyone stood in a circle and shared their hopes for Catalyst HTI. Some were excited about the new products and services that would be developed within the building. Others were eager to see the impact that industry integration would have on the health and wellbeing of patients. And all were ready to begin working together to make that impact a reality. When the final person had spoken, everyone came together in a huddle, and, in one great, booming voice, shouted, “We are Catalyst HTI!”