health

Health meets tech: How Colorado is paving the way for smarter healthcare

Healthcare is a major employment driver in the Denver metro area, increasing every year since 2017. According to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, this is in part because of the ability to “recruit and retain a healthy, skilled, productive workforce.”

And, the workforce in Denver is definitely healthy.  Colorado is the eighth healthiest state, according to the United Health Foundation, with ambitions to be the first.  Not only is Denver an ideal location for health system headquarters, because it has the right mix of entrepreneurs, tech startups, and advocacy entities, it’s also fertile ground for health-tech innovations.

Colorado’s eHealth Ecosystem

In November 2015, Colorado officially launched the Governor’s Office of eHealth Innovation and the eHealth Commission, which is responsible for defining, maintaining, and evolving Colorado’s Health IT strategy concerning care coordination, data access, healthcare integration, payment reform and care delivery. In November 2018, the office released its Health IT Roadmap, which set ambitious goals, including continued plans to support Colorado’s mission to become the healthiest state in the nation.

That’s right, Colorado has an official roadmap for how to make healthcare work better for everybody.

The truth is, however, long before this formalized plan, Colorado has been uniquely collaborative when it comes to advancing health-tech. The examples are endless. For one, Innosphere, a startup incubator headquartered in Fort Collins with satellite offices (including one in Castle Rock) and specialized facilities at Colorado State University, supports highly motivated entrepreneurs working on innovations in industries including health. In 2014, JP Morgan offered to fund a digital health program specifically at the incubator.

A similar organization, Prime Health Colorado, is a growing statewide community of 1,600+ health care executives, physicians, technologists, academics, entrepreneurs, and investors dedicated to improving health in the state. Prime Health has big name partners like Kaiser Permanente, The Colorado Health Foundation, and Aetna, as well as a host of others.

According to Prime Health Colorado, Denver has the perfect ecosystem for scalable health-tech innovation. Rather than compete within the state, organizations like Innosphere and Prime Health work together to advance the health-tech industry with the shared greater goal of improving healthcare.

The State of Colorado is also an advocate for better health. Currently in the last year of its State Health Care Innovation Plan, funded by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to the tune of $65 million, Colorado is helping to establish a model for better healthcare under a value-based payment system. The State also works to encourage funding of innovative health-tech by offering the Advanced Industry Investment Tax Credit to bioscience companies specifically through the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT).

Because health-tech initiatives have the buy-in from large health systems, insurance companies, and the support of the state and advocacy organizations that are dedicated to transforming care and lowering healthcare costs through the commercialization of digital health technologies, the stage in Colorado is set for success.

Health-tech in Denver South

Even more exciting, some of these health initiatives are happening in and around Denver South. SurgOne in Englewood was recognized for exceptional patient care at the 2019 CMS Quality Conference for cutting opioid prescribing by 50 percent in 2018 and significantly lowering the surgical infection rate.

Denver South is also home to Centura Health’s corporate office. And, just to the east of Denver South,  University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus (CU Anschutz) is the largest academic health center in the Rocky Mountain region. The economic impact of the University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital Colorado, both based at based at CU Anschutz, is $4 billion annually, serving more than 475,000 patients.

Hospitals like the University of Colorado Hospital are eager to improve efficiencies with technology. In 2016, the hospital adopted iQueue for Operating Rooms, an analytics tool designed to improve efficiency designed by a software company in Silicon Valley. According to the company that designed the technology, LeanTaas, in the first full year of use of the new technology, “UCHealth experienced dramatic improvements in operating room (OR) utilization and increased revenue by $10 million across UCHealth’s University of Colorado Hospital ORs.”

As Colorado pioneers new models and innovations, the future looks healthy for its residents and the healthcare industry alike.

For more information, check out the Denver South Economic Development’s Healthcare Industry Cluster Profile.

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