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Governor Baker at Children's Hospital in Boston.

 

On Thursday, January 7, Governor Charlie Baker was joined by state political, healthcare and private sector leaders to announce a new initiative in the hopes of attracting a multibillion-dollar industry to the Bay State.

During a press conference at Boston Children’s Hospital, Governor Baker, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and executives from the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (MACP) announced a public-private partnership to place the Commonwealth on the map for this estimated $32 billion industry.

Digital health, or eHealth, is a rapidly growing combination of healthcare and information technology. This market includes everything from electronic health records, consumer wearable devices, care systems, payment management and data analysis systems.

“Our administration is committed to making Massachusetts a national leader in digital health by partnering with private industry, convening key stakeholders and addressing market gaps,” said Governor Baker.

The initiative will bring together public, private, academic and healthcare leaders to build a stronger and more connected statewide digital ecosystem.

The City of Boston will work in collaboration with the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech and MACP to provide space, programming and a strong industry network for digital health startups. Programming will be managed and operated by MassChallenge, a nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs throughout the state.

“Strong public-private partnerships are what make our City, and our region, more competitive in the global economy,” said Mayor Walsh. “We know that the digital healthcare industry is Boston’s future, and I thank our state and private sector partners for their support. By working together, we can maintain Boston’s leadership in health care and the life sciences, and create an environment where the digital healthcare industry can thrive and we can better serve our patients and their families.”

An initial $250,000 will be provided by the state to help jumpstart this programming.

Massachusetts is well positioned to become a hub for the eHealth industry thanks to its rich history of technology and life science innovation. The Commonwealth already hosts roughly 250 existing digital health companies, along with world-class healthcare and academic institutions and a strong startup culture.

“Many of the building blocks that translate into what we have today already exist in Massachusetts,” Governor Baker said. “A big objective of this is to tie those strands together in innovative ways so we can make Massachusetts an innovative leader in an emerging field.”

MACP also announced several private industry-led initiatives that will accelerate the growth of the digital health sector. One initiative takes a look at how to provide private funds for digital healthcare companies that are starting up, located, or are planning to re-locate to Massachusetts.

The competitive partnership has also developed standardized software, technology and sponsored research agreements and user guides to make it easier for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and the private sector to do business with institutions such as the University of Massachusetts system, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University and Partners HealthCare.

The Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech (MeHI) has been designated as the state’s implementing agency by Governor Baker and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. Governor Baker plans to file legislation to task MeHI with promoting and supporting the growth of the digital healthcare industry within Boston and throughout the state.

State leaders acknowledge the potential of the rapidly growing digital healthcare industry and are looking to capitalize in the major positive. This industry will undoubtedly help create jobs, attract investment and develop solutions that will not only help the state’s economic bottom line, but will improve healthcare delivery and ultimately help contain healthcare costs.

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