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StartUp Health roundtable seeks to foster innovation, overcome obstacles

By Eric Wicklund, Editor, mHIMSS
The healthcare landscape isn't a smooth one for health and wellness entrepreneurs. They're faced with mobile medical app regulations still being refined by federal authorities, investors wary of investing in the market, and hospital and healthcare executives who are reluctant to try new ideas.

"It's surprising how many passionate entrepreneurs are trying to change healthcare and who are meeting a ton of obstacles," says Steve Krein, co-founder of StartUp Health, a New York-based initiative to inspire, educate and provide resources for entrepreneurs to build sustainable health and wellness companies. "It's unfortunate because the stakes are so much higher in this sector."

On Monday afternoon at the mHealth Summit, StartUp Health will host a roundtable discussion on those challenges. Moderated by Krein and featuring Donald Casey, CEO of the West Wireless Health Institute, and Aneesh Chopra, the nation's Chief Technology Officer, "Bridging the Gap Between Health & Wellness Entrepreneurs, Payers & Providers" is designed to identify those obstacles and help entrepreneurs determine their markets.

The StartUp Health roundtable will take place from 12-2 p.m. Monday in Maryland Ballroom C.

Krein says this roundtable, the fourth in the company's short-lived existence, will attract at least 300 people eager to learn the newest opportunities and trends "as they relate to new technologies and their promise to lower the costs and improve the quality of healthcare."

"To me, education is the biggest missing component," he adds.

StartUp Health was launched last June – it was unveiled by Chopra at the close of the Health Data Initiative Forum in New York – and spearheaded by Krein and former Time Warner Chairman and CEO Jerry Levin, both executives with OrganizedWisdom. Designed "to close the health gap between entrepreneurs, private investors, corporations, universities, foundations and other stakeholders committed to accelerating meaningful health and wellness innovation," it formed part of a larger initiative, called the StartUp America Partnership, that includes the private sector and the White House.

"StartUp Health has a long-term vision of what needs to happen to help foster a vibrant health and wellness system in this country by energizing entrepreneurs," Levin said in a press release announcing StartUp Health's launch. "By building a detailed roadmap for health and wellness entrepreneurs, we aim to provide access to everything and everyone they need to significantly increase their chances of creating a sustainable business."

Levin added that "any entrepreneur who dreams of meaningful innovation in health and wellness deserves access to this roadmap and the critical resources that can reduce the barriers to success, and we intend on making sure that happens."

The organization held its first roundtable on July 13, its second on Sept. 22 and its third on Nov. 8, each attracting between 100 and 200 people, according to the organization's website. In addition, says Krein, more than 1,000 people have taken the StartUp Health Pledge ("I'm committed to supporting the startup health and wellness system") found on the organization's Facebook page.

Aside from the StartUp health community, Krein points to the organization's "academy," which will take equity positions in companies and provide mentors and other training, its partnerships with other stakeholders and a "campus" planned in New York City.

"We have a very clear goal to help 1,000 health and wellness startups over the next decade," Krein says. "To do this, we're organizing all the stakeholders in a very meaningful way."

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