Entrepreneurs apply ideas to advance healthcare opportunities

July 1, 2013

Start ups receive mentoring and investment to bring innovative ideas to healthcare

It’s a pivotal time in healthcare, as all sectors of the industry prepare for reform. Our current healthcare system isn’t working and the time has come to take big leaps forward.

Technology is dramatically transforming how we do business and companies must embrace the change to succeed. We need fresh ideas to lower costs and provide better care to improve health outcomes.

At Independence Blue Cross (IBC), we are working to create an innovative culture within our own walls, the community and throughout the industry to address the challenges facing healthcare. Philadelphia is becoming a national magnet for healthcare innovation, investment and employment, in addition to being IBC’s home.

However, we needed a program in our region to help budding startups grow by using the leading healthcare resources around us. That’s why we launched DreamIt Health, a healthcare “accelerator.”

Changing the Game

In December 2012, IBC partnered with Penn Medicine and DreamIt Ventures to launch DreamIt Health. This partnership marks the first time a leading health insurer and health system are partnering to offer entrepreneurs resources to capitalize on emerging healthcare opportunities.

The program began with a nationwide search for unique healthcare startups that apply technology to the challenges of keeping people healthy and providing more effective and affordable interventions at the point of care.

After receiving more than 150 applications, we selected 10 companies with strong founders, the drive to make a difference and the vision to create innovative products or services. Each startup received a stipend of up to $50,000 and work space specifically designed to house startup companies.

In April, the 10 companies entered a four-month boot camp where they receive mentoring and coaching from experienced entrepreneurs and healthcare executives, as well as access to information and guidance from IBC, Penn Medicine, and others to help develop their products. One of my favorite things about DreamIt Health is the one-on-one mentoring, which gives us the chance to get to know the entrepreneurs and appreciate their passion for this industry. Experience is a valuable tool and it’s an honor to share our insight to help future business leaders in this challenging industry.

The companies currently in the DreamIt Health boot camp are offering phenomenal ideas such as an application that helps clinicians identify the right diagnosis for complex cases by matching the patient’s electronic record against millions of other cases drawn from around the world. Another company is creating a mobile application that enables physicians to get paid faster, while eliminating paper sign-in forms through a virtual health insurance ID card.

I am confident that the future is bright for the inaugural DreamIt Health class and I expect great things from these companies.

If more payers and health systems around the country take an active role in supporting new ideas and technology programs, the results could be remarkable. At IBC, we will continue to invest in innovative initiatives to support passionate entrepreneurs and further Philadelphia’s position as a leading city for health care innovation, entrepreneurism and employment.

 

Daniel J. Hilferty is president and CEO of Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia