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CareFirst, LifeBridge Health plan innovation center, fund for digital health startups

The announcement was made at the organizations' Payvider Innovation Summit this week.

CareFirst headquarters at Canton Crossing. (Public domain photo by Baltimore Heritage)

Along with hosting an innovation challenge that provided startups a chance to pitch, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and LifeBridge Health announced plans for a new hub for early-stage companies at Wednesday’s Payvider Innovation Summit, held at CareFirst’s headquarters in Canton Crossing.

The health insurance provider and healthcare system are planning to open an innovation center together, according to LifeBridge Health Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Daniel Durand and Ricardo Johnson, senior director of CareFirst’s Healthworx program. They’re┬áseeking space in Baltimore, to be opened by the end of 2019.

Each partner has a team that works to support new innovation across its organization: LifeBridge has an innovation and research team, while CareFirst’s initiative is Healthworx. Representing both the payer and provider side of healthcare, they convened around mutual interest in exploring new technology and approaches that can help patients, reduce costs, improve care and more.

The announcement is a sign that the collaboration will continue beyond Wednesday’s event. There’s also a focus on supporting companies in the region, where a notable group of startups with roots in health are growing alongside medical institutions and federal centers.

With the new hub, the organizations aim to have a “special presence” for Baltimore- and Maryland-based companies, its leaders said. There will be space for companies coming in from outside the region, as well.

Durand and Johnson also said the organizations have plans for a $5 million seed fund that will make investments in early-stage digital health startups.

“What we really hope to be is a catalyst in this region for digital health,” Johnson said Wednesday.

Companies: CareFirst

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