Blueprint spinoff brings payer, pharma, providers together to solve healthcare problems

By Jonah Comstock
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Junto Health members gather at a dinner. A Junto Health working group meets at the last team summit.

There are a lot of digital health accelerators designed to help startups catch the eye of big pilot partners, but what about the other way around? Last December NYC-based tech accelerator Blueprint Health spun off the Blueprint Health Collective, now renamed Junto Health, to help stakeholders like payers, pharma companies, and hospital systems, find and curate innovative solutions to their problems by working with the right startups -- or by developing innovations together in-house.

Now Junto Health has added another dimension to the service by promoting the Sachs Policy Group from a member of the consortium to a partner, who will lend expertise on trends and policy analysis to the members of the invite-only consortium, which include The Mount Sinai Hospital, North Shore LIJ, Montefiore Medical Center, The New York-Presbyterian Innovation Center, EmblemHealth, Samsung, Philips, HP AstraZeneca, Aetna, Healthware International, Allied Physicians Group, Boehringer Ingelheim, CarePoint Health System, and the New York City Economic Development Corporation -- a mix of provider groups, payers, pharma companies, and technology companies.

"The idea of Junto Health is that in [healthcare], we have many challenges that can be solved through technology," Junto Health CEO Doug Hayes told MobiHealthNews. "However, a lot of these challenges require the input of many different types of stakeholders. What we do at Junto is work with our members, get to know their common challenges and then just facilitate working groups about those aligned issues. By bringing to the table a provider, a payer, and a technology company we’re able to share nonsensitive information and come together with a concrete goal."

The details of the working groups' projects are not public, which is necessary for the companies to enjoy the open, collaborative atmosphere Junto Health seeks to facilitate. However, Hayes said some of the work, especially for payers and pharma companies, has to do with finding the startups that will actually be able to scale their offerings across a large organization. Other times, a working group doesn't find a startup doing what they need done, so the companies work together to develop their own technology instead. Always, they work backwards from a problem that needs to be solved and the different stakeholders bring their own perspectives to the problem -- including, now, a trend or policy perspective from Sachs.

"By adding the perspective from Sachs Policy Group and the expertise they bring across many elements of the changing healthcare landscape -- everything from delivery system changes, to workforce changes, M&A, and payment reform -- they are adding their perspective to the innovative and collaborative projects we’re already doing in the collective," Hayes said. "We’re able to build up this model and give our members that longterm perspective as it relates to their current innovation ambitions."

Hayes says that while Junto Health does plan to add a few more members to Junto Health in the next few weeks, the goal is not to create the largest consortium, but rather to make sure every new member adds some value to the community. The name Junto comes from colonial history: Benjamin Franklin started a group called Junto in Philadelphia in the 1700s to bring together entrepreneurs and thinkers for mutual improvement and to improve their communities through public libraries and hospitals. Hayes said he hopes his company will promote that same spirit of mutual improvement.

"So often within healthcare we operate largely within silos, and that collective approach, that open innovation approach, allows our members to sit on the same side of the table as provider, payer, pharma, technology company and work on the same problem together," he said. "In this area of convergence, the old siloed approach will continue to be shown to have limitations. By forming agile working groups and providing input from many different stakeholders working on one challenge, we’re able to solve those problems that require a more nuanced approach."