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The Leaflet Article

Featured Article:

Healthcare Is a Team Sport

By Tama Duffy Day, Kathleen Margolis, Alistair Cory


The Johns Hopkins accelerator, FastForward East.

Editor’s note: This post is the first in a series on the rise of healthcare accelerators, and fostering collaborative medicine through innovation.

At TMCx, the Texas Medical Center’s coworking space in Houston, a class of health start-ups are developing life-changing technologies under one roof: An analytics company is building predictive algorithms to help clinicians improve patient outcomes; a team of neuroscientists and designers is crafting a vest allowing deaf individuals to perceive auditory information; and a biotech company is developing virus-driven immunotherapies.

TMCx is among a growing list of health accelerators—programs that help speed the launch and growth of healthcare technology companies by connecting a large institution’s resources with entrepreneurs’ creativity and product ideas. These programs often serve as a launch pad to foster innovation and apply solutions to some of healthcare’s biggest challenges.

For ages, doctors have acted as independent artists, but as medicine and the delivery of medicine has changed, the professional team providing health leadership has expanded. Today the team might include generalists, specialists, nurses, technicians, residents, social workers, IT specialists—all leading us to recognize that the physical space must also change to support this expanded team and promote collaboration. Additionally, new players are entering healthcare at an exceptionally fast pace.


The not-for-profit healthcare incubator MATTER.

So what is a healthcare accelerator, and how does it create a culture of collaborative medicine and foster innovation in medicine?

First and foremost, an accelerator brings about speed—in n chemistry, an accelerant is a substance that increases the speed of a chemical change. An accelerator can also be a place that aims to nurture healthcare entrepreneurs and startup companies. When paired with healthcare systems, “they foster the growth of non-traditional talent to solve problems in healthcare. It’s not uncommon to see teams of physicians, business people, designers, technologists and scientists coming together in accelerators, ” according to authors Aman Bhandari and Sachin Jain of Health Affairs.

Here are four examples of successful healthcare accelerators:

1. MATTER, a not-for-profit healthcare incubator and coworking space for healthcare entrepreneurs and industry leaders in Chicago that facilitates collaboration, education and training for individuals and teams working together to fuel the future of healthcare innovation. Their members focus on broad topics ranging from colon cancer screening to an exercise device that can be used while playing video games.

2. Houston’s Texas Medical Center accelerator (TMCx) couples the resources of the world’s largest medical center with the innovative spark of entrepreneurs, focusing on digital health and medical device companies. Located in the former Nabisco plant, the space was designed to be casual, comfortable and creative in support of mentoring, hospitality and training that might stimulate breakthroughs in biomedicine by housing and mentoring small start-up companies developing life-changing technologies.

3. Johns Hopkins University’s newest accelerator in Baltimore, FastForward East, was provides affordable, turnkey workplaces for start-ups. Designed with both office and lab space, participants have access to the university’s team of experts and network of mentors to assist in the intricacies of launching a business.

4. OSF HealthCare sees the benefit of creating its own area where ideas can flow freely to transform healthcare. The Innovation Hub at OSF Jump Simulation in Peoria, Ill., is a collaborative workspace that brings together the people working on solutions for the organization’s most difficult, system-wide problems. It is a safe environment in which team members are allowed to fail and to quickly recover lessons from those failures, creating new processes and models along the way. It’s a collaborative center aimed at transforming healthcare by integrating data, analysis, treatment, and follow-up—all tailored to the individual.


Houston's Texas Medical Center accelerator TMCx

Gensler’s multidisciplinary team applies the design process to create each healthcare accelerator. Using applications from across disciplines like health & wellness, hospitality, workplace, consulting, education, research and information technology, designers collaborate on these projects and infuse creative energy into each space entrepreneurs engage.

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