MassBio’s® Digital Health Study Shows Massachusetts’ Potential as Leading Digital Hub

Feb 26, 2019

Report examines how a stronger, more embedded digital health cluster will enable further convergence with the life sciences

February 27, 2019 (CAMBRIDGE, MA) – The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio®) today released its digital health report, “Making Massachusetts a Leading Global Destination for Digital Health,” which examines the current state of the digital health industry in Massachusetts, the challenges facing its growth here, and the opportunities for Massachusetts to lead. The report, done by Deloitte, also includes a roadmap for MassBio to follow, with the support of other digital health stakeholders, to ensure digital health companies and their technologies have the best opportunity to converge with life sciences companies in Massachusetts and ultimately improve outcomes for patients.

“The convergence between digital health and the life sciences has already created opportunities to transform patient care as well as drug development and discovery,” said Luba Greenwood, Strategic Business Development and Corporate Ventures at Verily, an Alphabet company, and MassBio Board Member. “The digital health industry, however, must first be strengthened across Massachusetts for life sciences companies to truly capitalize on the full potential of digital technologies. Combined digital health and life sciences efforts will allow for development of new therapies that will better work within the growing value-based healthcare system that relies on data and measurable outcomes.” 

The study’s findings are clear: Massachusetts already has the core components of a leading digital health cluster – talent, capital, and data – along with a leadership commitment from government and other prominent stakeholders. However, there are missing pieces and structural problems that prevent it from being fully formed. For Massachusetts to become the leading hub for digital health nationally and for the life sciences industry here to benefit from it, it must focus on:

  • Talent & Academia: Massachusetts
  • must foster a talent pool that both understand digital technologies and healthcare or life sciences, and must incentivize them to stay in the state.
  • Data Access: The current infrastructure platforms hosting the enormous amounts of valuable health-related data is archaic and difficult to access. Various platforms must be modernized and integrated, made possible by industry collaborations.
  • Leadership in the Life Sciences & Dense Customer Network: The prevailing culture in life sciences companies, payers and providers is to build digital solutions in-house, along with siloing and protecting digital health resources, which hampers cross sector innovation.
  • Entrepreneurship & Anchor Firms: Massachusetts has a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem but must attract more digital health anchor firms to ensure digital health startups have the necessary partnerships and resources to flourish.
  • Firm Ecosystem & Digital Health Community: The ecosystem must actively support mentorship, robust incubators, and a thriving community for digital health startups and their counterparts to share knowledge and continuously interact and innovate.
  • Government: The private sector must support the Digital Health Council initiatives and ensure digital health remains a priority of state government.

“We know we have the ingredients to make Massachusetts a leading hub for digital health, and as long as all of the pieces of our ecosystem can continue to work together, the full potential of digital health to the Massachusetts’ life sciences industry will be realized.” said Kendalle Burlin O’Connell, Chief Operating Officer, MassBio. “It will undoubtedly take the dedicated efforts of MassBio, its members, the public sector and Administration, educational institutions, and related and supporting industries to achieve this aggressive goal. It won’t happen overnight, but I’m confident that with the right pieces and players, we’ll become the #1 life sciences and digital health cluster in the world.”

The study also identified at least three key opportunities where Massachusetts stakeholders could invest time and resources to drive growth and differentiation of its digital health ecosystem Broadly, these include: fostering better access to data and patients; developing a workforce that is able to tackle complex healthcare challenges through digital technology; and better coordinating the digital health entrepreneur and investor ecosystems. In addition to advocating for what the state can do, MassBio plans to launch new initiatives to support digital health entrepreneurs.

The study was conducted by Deloitte in the fall of 2018 through interviews and consultations with government, academic, and industry leaders.

Download the full report here. 

For media inquiries, contact Jennifer Nason.

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