Massachusetts announces plan for digital health hub in Boston

By Jonah Comstock

Boston Mayor Marty WalshLeaders of the city of Boston and the commonwealth of Massachusetts came together today at Boston Children’s Hospital to announce a new public-private partnership aimed at enhancing the profile of digital health in Boston. 

The City of Boston will work with Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech (MeHI), and the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (MACP) to establish a digital health innovation hub, which will provide space, programming and an industry network for digital health startups in Boston. It will be managed by MassChallenge.

“[This is] going to give incredible leverage to the density of talent we have in our universities and our hospitals and that’s something we want to continue to capitalize on,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said this morning. “The talent we have here, it’s important we continue to build off of that. Some of those innovators have ambitions of becoming entrepreneurs, and some of them will invent treatments and products that will become household names one day. Anything that we can do to help them grow those ideas we have to embrace, and also give them the tools they need. … It’s not about predicting the future, but it’s about empowering and connecting the people who are going to invent the future.”

On the state side, Governor Charlie Baker has already designated MeHI as the state’s implementing agency for promoting digital health. Now Baker plans to file new legislation that will expand MeHI’s efforts to include digital health cluster development. 

“Led by a Strategy Committee composed of leaders across industry, academia, healthcare, and government, MeHI will work on cluster development activities designed to promote and support the sector,” the governor’s office said in a statement. “MeHI will co-invest in the establishment of a digital healthcare hub in Boston, lead development of a market access program designed to help digital health innovations get to market faster by building strategic connections between entrepreneurs and the healthcare system, and partner with state agencies to better capture the ‘big data’ opportunity in healthcare.”

MACP, meanwhile, will host a mentorship speaker series to help connect entrepreneurs with established industry leaders in the space.

“From the early adoption of EHR systems, to the foresight of our state’s hospitals in providing integrated care, Massachusetts has long been a leader in worldclass healthcare,” Massachusetts Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo said at the press conference. “We can only continue this upward trajectory as we enhance our focus on eHealth. This is the place where we can, should, and will be both nationally and internationally recognized.”