Once a month, innovators from around Massachusetts descend on TechSpring, the Springfield-based digital health innovation center launched in 2015 by Baystate Health. The monthly 'Tap into TechSpring' event series brings together healthcare and technology innovators to discuss specific issues, talk about ongoing projects, and highlight potential areas for healthcare professionals and technologists to partner together.While most people automatically think Boston or Cambridge when it comes to healthcare in Massachusetts, TechSpring and the Baystate system are making Western Massachusetts and Springfield go-to locations for digital healthcare innovation, overcoming adoption barriers and tapping into the region's community of entrepreneurs.
Located in downtown Springfield, the Commonwealth's third largest city and the unofficial capital of the "Pioneer Valley" of Western Massachusetts, TechSpring's mission is "to accelerate innovation in healthcare informatics and technology in order to solve the very real challenges of healthcare today." Nearly two years before the launch of the Massachusetts Digital Health Initiative, Baystate created TechSpring as a collaborative space where digital health companies and healthcare leaders could come together to drive the creation of healthcare technology and life science solutions that would help improve patient care, communication between providers, and streamline hospital administration.
"We have an incredible digital health entrepreneurial ecosystem in Massachusetts, but we can still do more to support development of healthcare innovation," said Christian Lagier, Managing Director and co-founder of TechSpring."The missing link is access to a real, live healthcare environment and expertise for safe learning and proof-of-value.This is what TechSpring is focused on: overcoming the development and adoption barriers holding back change in the industry. Today, we provide innovation services for a fee to top technology companies seeking accelerated product development and market validation. As we build our infrastructure and connections are made,we are pushing down cost and increasing our engagement with earlier stage companies."
TechSpring's founders aimed to do this in three distinct ways:
- By providing an "authentic healthcare environment to test and prove solutions";
- By delivering "access to healthcare technology systems and informatics,"; and
- Offering the community a "forum for healthcare and technology professionals to communicate and collaborate."
In addition to being a home office for startups, TechSpring also partners with mid to large technology companies providing "access to a real, live health system using a proven process and platform to test and validate digital health solutions." For example, TechSpring is partnering with Dell on an innovative partnership, launched in summer 2015, which revolves around predictive analytics and telehealth. They're also working with Cambridge, Mass.-based Twine Health on an innovation-focused project. Twine, which recently raised $6.7 5 million in new venture capital funding, worked with TechSpring to test its app in a "real healthcare environment," which the company describes as a "collaborative care platform designed to engage patients in all...activities" related to their care.
In January 2016, Assistant Secretary Katie Stebbins of the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development and Sanjay Gokhale, MeHI's Digital Health Cluster Development Director, visited 'Tap into TechSpring' to talk with attendees about the newly launched Massachusetts Digital Health Initiative.
The event provided both an introduction to the new statewide effort, but also a forum where TechSpring's community could share their experiences and best practices from their interactions with a successful, working facility targeted toward digital health. As the Initiative plans the rollout of a similar 'hub' for digital health innovators in the Greater Boston area, the trail blazed by Baystate and TechSpring will be integral to the new facility's success.