Philadelphia is trying to become the home of innovative and inventive healthcare solutions, and Dan Hilferty, president and CEO of Independence Blue Cross, is contributing to the dream. But when will this ideal become reality?
Health insurance giants like Independence Blue Cross (IBX) have thrown their weight behind the idea of a Silicon Valley in Philadelphia — a Silicon Philly — and they want the innovation focused on healthcare tech. Investing millions, companies like IBX want to advance technology in order to cut down healthcare costs without sacrificing quality.
IBX’s CEO Dan Hilferty has such unwavering confidence in Philadelphia’s first-rate universities, hospitals, and tech community, he is literally putting his money where his mouth is by investing $50 million in new companies in the Philly area. IBX also opened a new Independence Center for Healthcare Innovation, as Technical.ly Philly outlines. To round out this massive investment in “Silicon Philly,” IBX has formed partnerships with other big players and smaller healthtech startups in the area.
Investment in Innovation
IBX is one of eight big companies who recently committed themselves to a new Health Care Innovation Collaborative, as BizPhilly reports. This cross-industry group features Philadelphia heavyweights like Comcast, Drexel University, and the University of Pennsylvania Health System. Each company wants to elevate Philadelphia into becoming the technological heart of U.S. healthtech innovation.
IBX Executive Vice President of Health Services and Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Steven Udvarhelyi said of the partnership, “We’re trying to make Philadelphia an easy place for companies to start their businesses and a global leader in healthcare innovation.” Attracting businesses takes the involvement of industry leaders, but at its core is the Collaborative’s enthusiastic investment in startups and local industry innovators.
DreamIt, a health tech accelerator that has funded 207 companies over the past three years, some of which are based in Philadelphia, presented their innovative products at this year’s DreamIt Health Demo Day to much fanfare. Clearly, Philadelphia is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for top industry minds, something the Collaborative encourages through training and investment.
Center City as the HealthTech Menlo Park
Hilferty takes his inspiration from none other than Thomas Edison. He recently presented at MedCity CONVERGE and used a light bulb to highlight the power of innovation. “Edison did not just invent the lightbulb. He changed the world,” the CEO remarked. “He was an innovator who happened to be an inventor.”
Todd Johnson, CEO of Noble.MD, praised Hilferty and IBX’s efforts in an opinion piece for Technical.ly, but maintains that “currently, [Philadelphia is] moving much slower than other areas.” However, according to Johnson, many major healthcare brands expect startups to agree to unpaid pilot programs through which the companies provide their products for free. In return, the healthcare giants contribute a minimal subset of resources.
As you can imagine, this kind of practice is mostly detrimental to small startups already strapped for funding. And Johnson voices concerns that this bet hedging by big investors could hobble the development of a techhub in the City of Brotherly Love.
If IBX and Philadelphia want to see Silicon Philly take off, they’ll have to actually start behaving like Silicon Valley. The California region required more than just big business investments in innovative startups to become the economic hub it is today. It needed an air of commitment to trying new things, and making investments with payoffs years in the future. Whether Philadelphia can replicate Silicon Valley’s growth trajectory and implement a new brand of healthtech remains to be seen.
Silicon Philly Tomorrow, SingleCare Today
In the coming years, Philadelphia could very well become the new home for healthtech. The technology coming out of local big business investments is exciting and belief in its potential is strong. However personal healthcare isn’t always as evolved as some of these emerging technologies. Philadelphians themselves may still struggle to find the affordable healthcare they deserve.
If you’re in need of medical coverage, become a member of SingleCare for access to quality healthcare at affordable rates. Silicon Philly may still be on the way but the wait for affordable healthcare is over. Joining SingleCare today can save you up to 50% on a doctor’s visit, and its expansive network of healthcare providers offer you plenty of options for quality medical care.
(Main image credit: f11photo/Thinkstock)