Rock Health revs up healthcare startups

February 13, 2013 in Medical Technology

Since its launch in 2011, Rock Health has made its mark in the healthcare field by ushering a number of innovative ideas from the drawing board to the marketplace. The digital health startup incubator has been a fixture at the past two mHealth Summits, and is part of the reason that funding for digital health companies jumped some 45 percent in the past year. Recently, Editor Eric Wicklund spoke to Amy Puliafito, who leads Rock Health’s research, social media and marketing efforts, to learn a little more about the organization

Q. How did Rock Health get its start – describe the organization’s history and goals and how it operates.

Rock Health was founded at Harvard Business School by Halle Tecco and Nate Gross, MD, who worked with Professor Bob Higgins, an experienced healthcare investor and founder of Highland Capital. Rock Health launched publicly in March 2011 at SXSW, and its inaugural portfolio class kicked off in June 2011.

Rock Health is a nonprofit foundation that supports entrepreneurs working at the intersection of healthcare and technology. We support the health entrepreneurship ecosystem through a startup accelerator, public events (including the Health Innovation Summit, Healthcare Bootcamp and XX Retreat), and open-source research. 

Q. How much does mHealth figure in the process? How many of the participating entrepreneurs and partners deal with mHealth?

Mobile is one crucial component of the way both consumer- and provider-facing digital technology is transforming healthcare delivery and access, and as such many of our startups build mobile apps as part of their offering.

Q. What sets Rock Health apart from the other organizations in this space?

Rock Health was the first digital health accelerator. It is a nonprofit, which makes it uniquely positioned to work with and support a multitude of stakeholders in the healthcare space. We have an unparalleled group of partners and an exceptional mentor network.

Q. At a time when the healthcare landscape is facing seismic changes (patient-centered healthcare, ACOs, meaningful use, value-based outcomes), how does Rock Health hope to affect the landscape?

Rock Health brings together diverse stakeholders and innovators from across different industries and offers entrepreneurs, investors, providers and corporates a place to meet and collaborate to solve healthcare’s most challenging problems. Through our accelerator, which provides early-stage digital health startups with funding, office space, operational support, mentorship and access to a top-tier group of partners, we hope to lower barriers for those with scalable, innovative technologies to break into the healthcare market.

[See also: Health IT up and comers under 30.]

Q. Where is all this innovation having the most effect – the provider, the patient, or somewhere else? Why?

Innovation has the potential to positively impact multiple players in healthcare. Innovation can empower patients through better information and health tools; it can empower providers by streamlining communication and workflows and providing better and more accurate diagnostic and treatment information; and it can change the way businesses understand and serve their customers.

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