Can’t find that perfect start-up IT company to meet the needs of a healthcare organization? Darren Dworkin, senior vice president of enterprise information systems and chief information officer at Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles, has found a way to remedy that—help to grow the companies you’d like to see succeed.

Many startups have great ideas but have never actually experienced the real-world scenario in which their IT will be used, Dworkin says. That’s why several years ago Dworkin founded the Cedars-Sinai Accelerator program, in partnership with Techstars, a company that provides accelerator portfolio companies with access to financial, human and intellectual capital.

Cedars-Sinai

Dworkin will be speaking on the program at at the upcoming HLTH conference, set for May 6 to 9. He shared his thoughts on the necessity for innovation in digital health in a recent interview.

The Cedars-Sinai Accelerator program has been described as an “intensive, three-month bootcamp” for startups. Why is such a program so important?
Dworkin: We launched the CS Accelerator to help early stage companies get access to real world insights and direct experience from clinicians at a health system. It is very important for companies as they are forming to have a test bed to learn from and to help them shape their ideas. It’s an opportunity for us to engage with 10 early stage companies every ten months.

With our 90-day in residence program, we help them meet as many people as they can. Some of them might only be off market fit by only one or two degrees. Without help, they could be as far as 10 to 20 percent off by the time they pour on venture capital. We have had about 28 companies go through the program so far. It has been wonderful and a good opportunity to help these companies figure out what they want to be and help them to get there.

Darren Dworkin
Darren Dworkin

What made you take on such a project?
Dworkin: We learned that building software wasn’t our forte, so we knew we would have to buy it. We thought if we partnered with the startups, we could help them find what fits well in our space. It would help us and it would help the companies to focus on real world problems.

Shifting gears, recently Cedars-Sinai became one of only a few hospitals to offer patients the ability to access their medical record via Apple Health. How were you a part of this and why is this important to your organization?
Dworkin: Cedars-Sinai has long been a leader in advancing medical record sharing, we believe everyone should have access to their record. The Apple Health initiative not only gives patients another way to get their record, but a method that will put them in control of how they wish to share it with others.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work as chief information officer at Cedars-Sinai?
Dworkin: Building great teams and working with so many smart and curious people! The fun part about healthcare right now is [tech] people are excited to help solve the problems found in healthcare. Years ago, when I tried to persuade IT people to work in healthcare delivery, they weren’t interested. With the advancements in digital health and with Amazon, Apple and Google entering healthcare, it has made it more appealing to folks. Some of the best and smartest minds are jumping into technology and healthcare right now.

Dworkin will be a panelist at the session, titled “360° Around Investments Focused on Provider Organizations,” to be held Monday May 7, from 9:20 to 10 a.m.

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