Massachusetts Launches Comprehensive Digital Health Initiative

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(Governor Baker at Children’s Hospital.  Photo & video courtesy of State House News Service)

Last week, Governor Charlie Baker joined public officials and business leaders from the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (MACP) at Boston Children’s Hospital to announce a comprehensive public- private partnership designed to accelerate the competitiveness of the Commonwealth’s digital healthcare industry.

Governor Baker said the Baker-Polito Administration “is committed to making Massachusetts a national leader in digital health by partnering with private industry, convening key stakeholders and addressing market gaps. This emerging industry cluster has the potential to become a powerful driver of job creation across the Commonwealth, while also unlocking new advances in improving patient care and lowering health care costs.”

Digital health is an emerging industry cluster identified by the Commonwealth’s economic development plan signed by Governor Baker on December 23, 2015. The digital health market is emerging rapidly, and has potential to create multiple positive effects on the state’s economic bottom line by creating jobs, attracting investment, and developing solutions, which improve healthcare delivery and ultimately can help contain healthcare costs.

Known as digital health, or eHealth, the sector spans a variety of technologies such as electronic health records, consumer wearable devices, care systems, payment management, Big Data analytics and telemedicine. The fast-growing sector represents about a $32 billion market opportunity over the next decade, according to Goldman Sachs.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said, “Strong public-private partnerships are what make our City, and our region, more competitive in the global economy. We know that the digital healthcare industry is Boston’s future, and I thank our state and private sector partners for their support.”

To support digital health startups, the City of Boston, Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech (MeHI), and MACP announced the establishment of a digital health innovation hub. The initiative will provide space, programming and strong industry network for digital health startups and will serve as a Boston “hub” for the industry. Programming through the hub will be managed and operated by MassChallenge.

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said Massachusetts is in a unique position “to become global leaders in the digital healthcare sector. I am proud that the House’s past two economic development bills have supported eHealth programs because I believe this industry presents rich opportunities for Massachusetts.”

Dr. Jeffrey Leiden, who led MACP’s Digital Health Initiative, said that Massachusetts, “With the strengths of our universities, academic medical centers, and life sciences companies, is uniquely positioned to succeed in digital healthcare and I’m thrilled to be part of the team that will make it happen.”

Governor Baker and Jay Ash, Secretary of Housing & Economic Development, have designated the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech (MeHI) as the state’s implementing agency. Established in 2008 by the Legislature as a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, an economic development agency, MeHI works to promote and accelerate the use of digital healthcare, such as electronic health records and health information exchange. Governor Baker announced today that he will file legislation to expand MeHI’s efforts to include digital healthcare cluster development activities.

“This initiative begins in Boston, but it’s a statewide effort, and we see real opportunities for growth in communities across the Commonwealth, including Springfield and Worcester, Lowell and other places,” Governor Baker said at the press conference.