In the 13th Century the Venetians were renowned for their skills in glassmaking, a technology that led to development of mirrors, spectacles, telescopes and many other technologies now taken for granted. But making glass required furnaces reaching 1,000 degrees, and fire in the city became a major problem. So, the glassmakers were moved to the nearby island of Murano. The result was the world’s first innovation incubator, said Mike Biselli, president Catalyst HIT, a Denver-based healthcare technology incubator opening in 2018.

Catalyst is working with Prime Health, which brings together innovators, providers, entrepreneurs, corporations and foundations in the region to identity and test new health IT technologies.

Prime Health facilitates the teaming of innovators with healthcare delivery systems that seek a competitive advantage by using new technologies and processes, such as a smartphone/web-based system that better engages patients participating in a diabetes intervention program to ensure they adhere to medication and other treatment plans.

Mike Biselli

Healthcare incubator programs are popping up or now operating in dozens of major cities across the nation, according to Biselli, who spoke during Health Data Management’s Value-based Care Conference in Dallas.

Also See: Cedars-Sinai prepares for reprise of healthcare incubator program

Healthcare organizations need to re-imagine how technology can change how the industry works, Biselli noted. Such re-imagination isn’t new; it already happened during the past decade. A fundamental change in how healthcare works started in 2007, after the first smartphone was introduced, and now is the time for more re-imagination in the age of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

And there are incubators and supporting organizations ready to help. “The current innovation boom is not a fad, but is real and expanding,” Biselli said. For example, there are more than 135 health technology companies just in Colorado. “Innovators need your help to re-imagine healthcare. If we work together, we will develop new ideas, processes and technology that will shape the industry for decades to come.”

At the same time, however, innovators can help themselves by not falling victim to common mistakes as they seek financial partners and healthcare customers, Biselli said. These mistakes include not knowing how to integrate with an electronic health record system, or not knowing what DRG, ICD-10 and an EHR are.

Other mistakes: Startups often fundraise too much too early, which can sink a company if they burn through the money without hitting initial revenue targets. These early-stage companies also need to better educate themselves about how to navigate existing physician workflows and find ways to get doctors away from having to constantly type at a keyboard.

Mistakes aside, however, Biselli said failing is part of the innovation lifecycle. “There was a lot of stuff that didn’t work when the Internet turned on,” he recalled. “But that’s okay, you have to try.”

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