DENVER, CO – Prime Health’s October 8th Meetup at Industry, a massive co-working space in downtown Denver, was unlike any that had come before it.
Almost a hundred people were seated in the building’s sheik auditorium for the Colorado-based digital health organization’s monthly gathering. But they had not come to hear a big-name speaker present on an important topic in the burgeoning health-tech industry.
Instead, they had come to discuss the future.
“We wanted to have tonight to talk about how we build the number one digital health ecosystem in the United States,” Jeffrey Nathanson, the President of Prime Health, told his audience at the start of the Meetup.
The large meeting possessed the intimacy of a community gathering, with the members of Colorado’s dynamic digital health scene freely offering their feedback as they learned how Prime Health was planning to achieve its most audacious goal.
Turning the Healthcare Ecosystem into a Community
Instead, the Colorado-based digital health organization is an integrator, an organization that brings together relevant stakeholders within the healthcare economy – from startup entrepreneurs to healthcare decision-makers and investors – so that meaningful connections can be made.
One of the ways that Prime Health achieves this integration is through its working groups. Composed of impassioned volunteers, these working groups reach out to the investment community, forge connections within the healthcare system, and offer mentorship to entrepreneurs.
There are even working groups that focus on identifying digital health interventions for healthcare issues like dementia or childhood obesity.
On the night of October 8th, Nathanson revealed how Prime Health was planning to expand these working groups to further integrate Colorado’s healthcare ecosystem.
“One of the things we’re exploring is putting together seminars and workshops to bridge the gulf between tech entrepreneurship and healthcare entrepreneurship,” he explained. “We also need to have seminars for healthcare executives to help them understand what a SaaS model is, or an API.”
Nathanson mentioned as well that Prime Health was forming a leadership group for digital health founders that would begin meeting in December.
“We think that being number one in digital health is achievable, and we think we can be there by 2020,” Nathanson continued. “But it’s going to require all of us to come together in a collaborative ecosystem.”
A Long Road to Number One
“This is the map that just came out September 30th,” Nathanson told his audience. “You’ll notice that we’re not on the list. And that’s really troubling.”
He held up his hand to reassure the members of Prime Health.
“But don’t get too troubled. This list was aggregated from a number of public sources,” Nathanson said. “And according to it, Startup Health sees only three deals in Colorado.”
Nathanson went on to reveal that as of September 1st of this year, Prime Health had already tracked $91 million in investments in Colorado-based digital health companies. If accurate, this number would put the Denver Metro Area just above San Diego, at 8th in the nation.
While this still left Denver far below tech hubs like New York, San Francisco, and Boston, Nathanson appeared undaunted by the long road to the top. He referred to Prime Health’s recent Digital Health Challenge as one of the many signs of Colorado’s growing prestige.
“We believe it was the largest digital health challenge in the country,” he said. “The fact that we had 17 healthcare delivery systems participating is particularly significant.”
The Next Big Thing in Digital Health
When a member of the audience asked Nathanson why the top-ranked clusters were out-performing Denver, he responded by highlighting Colorado’s current predicament.
“Silicon Valley, New York, and Boston have more venture capitalists than we do,” Nathanson explained. “So we have to differentiate ourselves to gain a competitive advantage.”
“We think that this competitive advantage can be gained if we have a portfolio of qualified, vetted, and tested companies.”
According to Nathanson, Prime Health had developed a rubric based on the Valid Eval platform, which his organization was using to evaluate digital health companies.
“We think it’s the first evidence-based review of digital health companies in the country,” Nathanson said. “And what we’re hearing from healthcare delivery systems is that they don’t have an objective process by which to evaluate digital health products.”
“We’re going to provide that for them,” he added.
Prime Health utilized this evidence-based evaluation process in the months leading up to the 2015 Digital Health Challenge, when it brought together 75 healthcare and tech experts to analyze a variety of startups.
Nathanson estimated that this process created over $300,000 in value for the companies that took part.
“We’re also exploring whether there’s an opportunity to create a process with which clinical trials are conducted in a lean and rapid way for Colorado digital health companies,” Nathanson said. “These trials will give them a competitive advantage so that when they talk to customers, they can say, ‘Here’s a third-party analysis of my intervention in comparison to a control group of the common course of care.”
An Established Player Takes on a New Role
By bringing together a variety of startup entrepreneurs, healthcare decision-makers, and venture capitalists to create the vibrant Colorado digital health community, Prime Health has established itself as a pivotal player in the transformation of American healthcare.
With its current plans to evaluate digital health companies and assist them in demonstrating the clinical efficacy of their products, it appears that the Colorado-based digital health organization has found a new role to play in the rapidly evolving healthcare market.