Tech accelerator working to build health innovation collaboration

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 - JoskoSilobrcic
Josko Silobrcic, MD, MPH, MS

BOSTON—Healthbox is a platform designed to stimulate early stage innovation and “empower entrepreneurial success while creating a collaborative global industry ecosystem,” said Executive Director Josko Silobrcic, MD, MPH, MS, speaking at the 2014 AMDIS Symposium.

By bringing the tech accelerator model to healthcare—providing seed capital and connecting mentors and advisors, Healthbox aims to help the industry innovate differently.

Innovation equals survival and competitive differentiation, Silobrcic said, but the term is “overused and misused in many ways.” Stakeholders have questions, such as: Will payers reimburse for a given solution? Is the company’s product ready for prime time? Is it the best available? Is it implementable or just something that will cause frustration?

“We act like we have innovation covered but we really don’t. We can’t engage in innovation until we clean house.” Organizations need an innovative culture that focuses on improvement rather than structures and processes, he said.

By bringing the various stakeholders to the table, Healthbox is building this global innovative community to help vet and nurture new companies. Payers can share whether they would cover something, health systems can share whether a tool is usable and manufacturers can share whether a product can be produced and approved by regulatory agencies.  

Healthbox has nurtured more than 80 companies since its launch which has led to 250 pilot projects or early customer relationships and more than $33 million raised.

Entrepreneurial-minded employees often don’t work for nimble organizations that can help develop a great idea, Silobrcic said. As a result, they leave and the organization loses valuable intellectual property. “This is why we’re trying to expand the model. We source the accelerator program internally and evaluate all these companies very rigorously. We’re raising collaborative innovation funds so we can follow up and there is a mechanism to further support and nurture.”

Silobrcic discussed several companies working with Healthbox:

  • SmartScheduling helps doctors’ offices efficiently and intelligently optimize their scheduling. “Late cancellations and no-shows create tremendous waste. What if we can do predictive analytics to figure out who is likely not to show so we can intelligently overbook?”
  • GeckoCap helps patients manage their asthma treatment and promotes medication adherence through a Bluetooth-enabled device placed on an inhalers. The device alerts the patient when it’s time to use the inhaler and transmits usage data to providers.
  • 3Derm allows dermatologists to remotely read images of skin lesions and effectively triage patients. Dermatology is clogged specialty with long wait times so the ability to evaluate lesions more quickly and efficiently is great, he said.

“Our idea of putting together these resources early on and engaging organizations feels very logical and productive,” Silobrcic said. “Some entrepreneurs tell us ‘I’ve been trying to talk to someone at Partners for two years but I can’t get to the right person.’ If we can put those people at the table early on for feedback, then I think that will save a lot of time.”