Date: August 20, 2012
Location: Metro North, car #6444, Croton Harmon station
On July 19th, a group of individuals gathered in a large, packed conference room at the Manhattan offices of the New York City Investment Fund. The occasion was the final selection of companies for the NY Digital Health Accelerator—the first of a momentous two-day experience. Attendees included nearly 20 venture capital investors, with deep knowledge of the healthcare IT sector, over 25 healthcare providers from across the state (newly appointed with Health Home designation), New York Health Commissioner, Dr. Shah, and the staffs of NYeC and NYCIF. But before I tell you about that day, let me roll back a couple of months. . .
As we discussed in the last post, in the fall of 2011, we came to the conclusion that we wanted to develop a new software ecosystem of health IT. These software products would utilize the SHIN-NY and would provide our burgeoning team based care organizations, Health Homes, with tools to help their clinicians collaborate.
At about this time, the New York City Investment Fund, led by Maria Gotsch, was also thinking about new growth sectors for New York, and Dr. Nirav Shah, the Health Commissioner, had the opportunity to bring us together. The synergy was immediate, and we quickly set to the task of assembling a program that could accomplish these goals:
- Creating a new marketplace of health IT tools to support the new team based care delivery workflow being established by the Health Homes and ACOs; innovate health IT tools while the care delivery is innovating.
- Engaging the investment community such that they could build upon the success of the SHIN-NY and be a financial partner in developing a new growth sector for New York.
- Creating health IT jobs in New York!
- Providing a community of innovators with the ability to build software products that use clinically generated patient health information, via a trusted platform (the SHIN-NY) — something that could otherwise take years to accomplish as a small startup.
. . . Now fast forward from that day.
Eight venture capital organizations joined up, along with 20 healthcare provider organizations. Together, these organizations would collectively decide upon 10 to 12 software companies to work shoulder-to-shoulder with Health Homes, in order to accelerate their software products on the front lines of team based care in New York. To accomplish this, we put out a “Call For Innovation,” asking software companies to review the requirements and apply if they felt they had a product ready. We received over 250 applications from across the US — and a dozen from around the world. The venture capital and provider organizations then collaborated on the review of these applicants, and narrowed the field to the top 20.
Which brings us July 19th.
Each of the twenty finalists was given 30 minutes before an audience of venture capitalists and providers. In that time, the finalists had to introduce their product, discuss their strategy, explain how the product would meet the providers’ needs, and demonstrate their ability to be mentored by both types of experts. It was an amazing and captivating set of sessions. The honest, intellectual repartee between participants was outstanding, and just watching it you could experience a true sense of risk, trust, and the collective pursuit of an end goal. The bar moved up a couple of notches that day, and the shared wisdom of everyone involved grew. And at the end, we had selected our first class of companies.
We are now working on the next stage of the Accelerator. A lot of mentoring is on horizon, as is integration with the SHIN-NY. We look forward to seeing how these products evolve and develop as they come into use. So stay tuned.