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Drive Innovation June 24, 2016

Point of View: The Ecosystem Mindset in Healthcare Innovation

President, Catalyst HTI
Key Takeaway
Cos deciding future of #healthcare share an ecosystem mindset; they’re open, inclusive, collaborative - @mikebiselli

While a Board Member of Prime Health and a Senior Advisor to 10.10.10, health-tech entrepreneur Mike Biselli witnessed firsthand the tremendous power that a determined community of clinicians, technologists, and investors could wield, and realized just how much more could be accomplished if that power were harnessed. Over the next few years, Biselli began developing the industry integrator concept that facilitates collaboration at the point of innovation by housing an entire health-tech ecosystem in a single location. Now, in partnership with governmental, academic, non-profit, and commercial organizations, Biselli is developing Catalyst HTI, a first-of-its-kind industry integrator in Denver’s River North District that will bring together health-tech startups and Fortune 20s alike in the race to fix American healthcare. Here, he describes the "ecosystem mindset" needed to drive successful conversations, collaborations, and innovations forward:

Healthcare is currently undergoing a massive transformation, one that in many ways is just beginning. New companies powered by new ideas and new technologies are appearing across the country, each competing with established players to stake a claim in the new healthcare system that is emerging. Whether it’s a tech giant like Terumo BCT, a national healthcare organization like Kaiser Permanente, or a digital health startup like BurstIQ, the companies deciding the future of healthcare all have one thing in common: an ecosystem mindset. They’re open to new ideas, inclusive of others, and willing to collaborate. And it’s this mindset that will decide who makes it through the healthcare system’s current transformation, and who gets left behind.

I learned the value of an ecosystem mindset as a health-tech entrepreneur a few years ago. My partner and I had developed an online platform to directly connect the buyers and sellers of surgical implants, effectively cutting out the middleman in implant sales when that middleman wasn’t delivering clinical value. Even after taking into account the difficulties we experienced while developing our product, raising funds, and marketing, the biggest obstacle my partner and I faced was persuading established healthcare organizations to take us seriously. The disconnect between how digital health entrepreneurs and healthcare executives spoke – and perhaps even thought – about innovation was profound.

The prevailing belief back then was that the healthcare system was too immense and complex to be disrupted. In the minds of executives, they didn’t feel the need to take us seriously because there was no way we would ever succeed in changing things. The irony, my partner and I understood, was that it was exactly attitudes like these that caused tech disruptors like Netflix, Uber, and AirBnB to flourish. We knew it was only a matter of time before disruption came to healthcare. Our experiences as digital health entrepreneurs only strengthened this belief.

Fortunately, we weren’t alone in our conviction that the healthcare system was about to be fundamentally reimagined by digital technology. Around the same time that we launched our company, a new digital health organization appeared in Denver. Known as Prime Health, its sole mission was to convene the clinicians, entrepreneurs, executives, academics, technologists, investors, and policy-makers in the Colorado digital health ecosystem at monthly gatherings, quarterly summits, and a yearly pitch competition. During my first Prime Health meeting, I was astonished. Surrounding me were relevant stakeholders from across the healthcare system excitedly discussing the potential for new ideas, new processes, and new technologies to revolutionize our entire industry.

The companies deciding the future of healthcare all have one thing in common: an ecosystem mindset. And it’s this mindset that will decide who makes it through the healthcare system’s current transformation, and who gets left behind. - Mike Biselli

After I successfully exited from my digital health company at the end of 2013, I joined Prime Health as a board member and spent the next few years witnessing firsthand the power of the ecosystem mindset. By encouraging its members to share ideas, listen to one another, and work together, Prime Health had fostered new partnerships, inspired the development of new initiatives, and generated tens of millions of dollars in investment for the digital health startups in its ecosystem. It had also brought established healthcare organizations into contact with the innovators who were transforming their industry, while empowering people of all kinds to play a role in that transformation.

It was an exciting time, to be sure. But the more I worked with Prime Health, the more I began to feel that while convening the digital health ecosystem at monthly gatherings was a step in the right direction, there was more that could be done. I knew we could take our community even further. That’s when it occurred to me. Why not create a physical space that would house the members of the digital health ecosystem, allowing them to work alongside one another on a daily basis? Healthcare was such a large and complicated industry that it would take all of us to come up with solutions to the problems plaguing it. How much faster would these solutions be created if the digital health ecosystem were convened everyday? And how much further might the ecosystem mindset spread throughout the healthcare industry if the digital health ecosystem became an institution?

Ever since first having this idea, I have worked tirelessly to make it a reality. Alongside a team of developers, architects, and designers, I have been leading the formation of Catalyst HTI, a first-of-its-kind, 190,000 square foot industry integrator in Denver, Colorado. Established healthcare organizations like Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), the American Diabetes Association (ADA), and University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have joined healthcare innovators like Prime Health, 10.10.10, and the Boomtown Health-Tech Accelerator – along with a multitude of health-tech startups like Telespine, Leo Technologies, and CirrusMD – in announcing their intention to become tenants of the building when it opens in early 2018. By bringing together relevant stakeholders from across the healthcare system, Catalyst HTI will integrate our industry at the point of innovation. The ecosystem mindset is what will make this integration possible, serving as the engine powering the conversations, collaborations, and innovations occurring within the building.

But it’s going to take all of us. Remember, whether you are the head of a Fortune 20 organization or the founder of a single-person startup, if you are passionate about reimagining healthcare, you have a seat at our table.

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