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Stop filling healthcare gaps. Start connecting healthcare dots

In an op-ed, Emily Durfee of CareFirst's Healthworx calls for more regional coordination around entrepreneurs that can improve healthcare.

This is a guest post by Emily Durfee, the Healthworx lead for 1501 Health, an incubator from CareFirst and LifeBridge Health.
Entrepreneurs are brave risk-takers who rarely find success independently. They depend on a complex ecosystem of funders, regulators, mentors and partners to bring their innovations to life.

Locally in the Baltimore-Washington area, we have all of the right ingredients to support them: industry experts, academics, effective accelerators and incubators, investors, regulators and innovative, established companies.

We are facing a national healthcare crisis and reckoning with the gaps in access, affordability and equity, which poses a huge opportunity for our regional entrepreneurial ecosystem. We need to act with a sense of urgency to support it in this important endeavor of bettering our healthcare system.

With Maryland’s place as one of the best states for healthcare, according to U.S. News and World Report rankings, we should be able to fully tap the potential right in front of us. Yet we aren’t supporting the right innovators at the right time with the right resources: Established companies rarely partner with local startups, regulators struggle to keep up with breakthrough technologies and entrepreneurs have limited angel and early-stage funding opportunities.

It’s time to start connecting the dots in a way that creates sustainable, meaningful progress.

One area of movement is the new launch of 1501 Health. It’s a unique partnership between Healthworx, the innovation and investment arm of CareFirst, and LifeBridge Health, representing expertise in both health insurance and financing (payers), and healthcare delivery and services (providers). Healthcare payers and providers working collaboratively is challenging, yet critical to moving healthcare forward. This investment and incubation program will empower entrepreneurs to get their innovative solutions to market and expand their impact in healthcare quality, access and affordability.

While this is progress, we recognize that the solution does not stand with one company or program. Startups improving healthcare, outside of pharmaceuticals, need more from all of us: purchasers, payers, the public sector, communities, entrepreneurs and others. It’s time we look beyond filling gaps, and start connecting the dots to help build a more effective entrepreneurial ecosystem in support of healthcare innovation and a better, more equitable future of healthcare.

Companies: CareFirst

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