Guest Commentary: Tapping into Boston’s Talent Pool for Digital Innovation in Health

June 17, 2015
Boston Business Journal

By Brian Tilzer, Chief digital officer at CVS Health

Massachusetts is ahead. The state boasts a 4.8 percent unemployment rate as of March 2015, lower than the nation’s average and marking a significant fall from the 5.9 percent rate recorded in March 2014. Such a healthy job market in Massachusetts can, in part, be explained by the continued draw of not just jobs but top talent to the thriving sectors in the Greater Boston Area – across education, retail, technology and health. And Boston in particular stands out as an intellectual capital, retail stronghold, technological metropolis and healthcare hub. The city has long been home to biotech companies and pharmaceutical companies, drawing upon collaborative efforts with some of the world’s most prestigious STEM research institutions. The convergence of each of these elements makes Boston an attractive capital for digital innovation in health. That’s why, now, more than ever, health-focused companies – from well-known industry players to startups – are flocking to the Greater Boston Area to hire from the city’s rich talent pool.

Boston’s multi-faceted talent pool represents the collaborative effort that’s much needed across technology and health. This intersection of technology and health is vitally important, to ensure that people can stay healthy and save both time and money. We’re in need of innovations that make pharmacy and health services more accessible through technology. It’s time to change the costly status quo on non-adherence to medicine – with the help of digital innovation. With improved tracking and communication measures implemented via technology, health companies can help cut back on the $300 billion in added costs non-adherence poses on the health system every year. By working together, businesses spanning health and technology can figure out how to address ubiquitous issues like making it easy to diagnose and treat ear infections early on, which affects more than 80 percent of children before they turn 3 years old.

It’s time for the health industry to catch up to the newest technologies that are enriching the lives of people each and every day – from consumer electronics to enterprise software. That means health integration with the latest and greatest in mobile to remote diagnostics to biometrics. Apps on the Apple Watch to that tell you when your prescription is ready at the nearest pharmacy. Bluetooth-enabled pill bottle caps that drive adherence. Connected otoscopes that turn your phone into a diagnostic tool for ear infections. These tools aren’t just far-away ideas. They’re becoming reality through the investments companies like CVS Health are making in digital innovation for health.

And already we’ve seen the vast benefits technology can bring as it melds with numerous sectors. Take financial services, for example. The financial technology, or FinTech, industry is introducing electronic portfolio and trade management tools, new lending platforms, electronic payment systems like Bitcoin, among other capabilities front and center – to disrupt Wall Street for the better. FinTech startups are increasingly partnering with more established financial institutions to capitalize on new opportunities in the space, too. In fact, investment in FinTech totaled more than $12 billion globally last year, and is expected to double by 2018. Health can likewise further innovation across the sector through technological integration.

Health companies exist to help people on their path to better health, and that’s why companies such as CVS Health are tapping into the wealth of health, digital and tech talent Boston offers. That’s why we’re excited to announce the opening of our Digital Innovation Lab in the Back Bay to recruit top locals with expertise in everything from application development and creative digital design, to engineering, coding, usability and customer experience. As a company, we’ve always been keen to find people who share our passion to bring the full force of digital technology to improve customers’ health experience. And our investment in Boston echoes our approach to hiring the best talent from each region – from New England to Silicon Valley – as we look ahead to ways we can continue to best help the five million customers who walk through our doors every day.

Massachusetts is ahead in the quality of its talent pool, and we’re eager to digitize the healthcare industry and join the ranks of the storied Bostonian health and tech innovators. We encourage health and technology companies across the nation to join us in capitalizing on all the talent and resources New England has to offer as it continues to shape up as the world’s digital health epicenter.

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