CLEVELAND — In late July, we hosted the inaugural Ohio HealthTech Summit. Co-presented by our respective organizations, OhioX and University Hospitals Ventures, it brought together some of the best minds our state has to offer in health care innovation.
The summit came at an important time. The United States is now responsible for 40% of all global health spending. Yet life expectancy for Americans dropped to 76.6 years in 2021 – the lowest in at least 25 years – down from 78.9 years in 2019. And, of course, we have been battling COVID-19 for over two years.
We are in urgent need of bigger, bolder health care innovation. And Ohio is posed to deliver.
Our state has a unique opportunity to lead the next great health care innovation revolution. To do so, the keys are collaboration and investment.
Let’s start by framing Ohio’s opportunity this way: Silicon Valley, the undisputed center of technological innovation, is not a city but a region. Its institutions and companies are born, built, and operate across multiple cities in the Bay Area.
Ohio is much the same. Our cities are spread out and unique, but when you combine the power of Ohio’s hospitals, health care systems, and research centers, it’s simply amazing.
Perhaps the biggest examples, combining both collaboration and investment, are the three Innovation Districts in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. Led by JobsOhio, the state of Ohio, and local partners in each city, this is a $3 billion investment to establish Ohio as a global leader in health care, life sciences, and technology. It’s a terrific model of statewide strategic strategy with local focus and execution.
In Cleveland, we see the power of collaboration between University Hospitals and Axuall, a Cleveland health techstartup that empowers health care leaders to make better and faster decisions to meet patient demand, improve economic efficiencies, and reduce provider burnout.
Axuall and University Hospitals have worked, in partnership, since 2019 to develop Axuall’s Clinician Data Network, providing insights for network planning, analytics, and reporting, while dramatically reducing onboarding and enrollment time via provider-enabled digital credentials. Since the commercial roll-out began in early 2021, Axuall has provisioned over 50,000verified data elements on behalf of over 4,200 University Hospital clinicians. For these clinicians, Axuall gives them a single place to manage and monitor their own digital credentials, enabling them to play a central role. By leveraging primary source verified data from our network, the technology reduces form entry by up to 90%.
Chris Berry is president of OhioX, a nonprofit technology and innovation partnership dedicated to helping make Ohio a leading tech hub.
A 2021 published case study compiling data collected from interviews with eight large health systems, including Advocate Aurora Health, Banner Health, ChristianaCare, Duke Health, RWJ Barnabas Health, Sharp HealthCare, Spectrum Health, and University Hospitals, also highlights the projected return on investment at University Hospitals based on data collected from our 2020 pilot.
But collaboration is just one key. It takes money to innovate. Historically, tech companies had to be coastal to get funding, but that’s changing. In 2021, Ohio tech startups raised $2.4 billion, which smashed state records — more than double the previous high set in 2020.
David Sylvan is president of University Hospitals Ventures.
In Columbus, look at Forge Biologics, a venture-capital-backed gene therapy development engine focused on accelerating access to potentially life-saving (AAV) gene therapies. Forge made headlines in 2021 when they announced a $120 million Series B, which was the largest in Ohio history.
Their funding and the work they’re doing are putting Ohio on the map.
Health care innovations literally save lives and give society the most impactful creations, but they are expensive ventures. Ohio has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to establish the Silicon Heartland as the beating heart of America’s health care industry. Increased collaboration and investment will make this possible.
Chris Berry is the president and CEO of OhioX, a statewide tech nonprofit association. David Sylvan is the president of University Hospitals Ventures, the innovation and commercialization platform serving University Hospitals Health System.
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