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Massachusetts Governor Launches Digital Healthcare Council

November 28, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has announced the creation of a Digital Healthcare Council, a public-private partnership that will advise the administration on the future of the state’s digital healthcare industry.

The council stems from the momentum of the Massachusetts Digital Health Initiative, which Gov. Baker’s administration launched in January with the aim to create a hub for health IT innovation in Boston. And now, the Massachusetts Digital Health Council will help steer and shape that initiative, as its initial responsibility will be to deliver a three-year growth plan to the governor with recommendations and objectives for ways the state can promote and accelerate digital healthcare innovation across the Commonwealth. The council will also establish and support projects that bolster the implementation of the growth plan, reporting on their progress via an annual report on the Council’s progress towards its objectives, officials noted.

More specifically, according to a press release from Gov. Baker’s office, the just-formed council will convene leaders across the digital healthcare industry, including technology, healthcare delivery, insurance, medical devices, the life sciences, academia, and government, to advise on ways new digital technologies can improve healthcare in the state, grow jobs, and reduce healthcare costs.

Last week, Gov. Baker convened the first meeting of the Digital Health Council at the Massachusetts General Hospital Museum of Medical History and Innovation. The session focused on strategies and tactics that can help Massachusetts grow innovative digital health technologies. According to officials, “The digital health market spans a number of technologies Massachusetts is an established leader in, including the life sciences, electronic health records (EHRs), consumer wearable devices, care systems, payment management, big data analytics and telemedicine. The digital health market is estimated to grow to $32 billion over the next decade.”

The council will be co-chaired by Katie Stebbins, assistant secretary of innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship at the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, and Dr. Jeffrey Leiden, chairman, president and CEO of Boston-based Vertex, a pharmaceutical company. The council will meet at least four times per year, and will be supported by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development and the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech (MeHI). The members of the council include several digital health IT experts in the region, including notable CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess System, Dr. John Halamka, Dr. Atul Gawande, executive director, Ariadne Labs at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and others.

“For Massachusetts to become a national leader in digital health, we need to continue to build on the momentum our Digital Health Initiative has already produced,” Gov. Baker said in a statement. “This council will collaborate to move past barriers in the healthcare industry and solve significant challenges to make advances in patient care, lower health care costs, and address public health crises, like the opioid epidemic.”

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