At the Division of Innovation and Applied Research, we’ve long recognized the potential for Maryland to be a leader in establishing business opportunities where IT marries other industries, whether its counterpart is education, construction, or health care. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the winner, Rehabtics, and runner-up, Tutela Bedside Technologies, of TU Incubator’s 2014 Business Plan Competition; both are Maryland-based start-ups innovating in health technology. In recent months, we can’t help but notice the increasing buzz of health technology and questions on whether Maryland has what it takes to nurture an industry that improves patient care while increasing ROI for providers.
RESI staff attended the Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA)’s Summer Conference on Maryland’s health technology industry, and we were blown away by the complex and innovative nature of this emerging industry. Evident from discussion at MEDA’s conference, Maryland has an opportunity to be a leader in nurturing health technology, because Maryland is one of few east coast states with the necessary infrastructure in place. The conference kicked off with three overarching themes: health care access, quality, and affordability through technological innovations.
The exact definition of health technology remains elusive, but MEDA provided a definition for one sub-sector, mobile health. Mobile health is defined by MEDA as “the use of wired or wireless technology to improve health and care delivery.” Within mobile health, there are so-called wearables and applications that are probably the most well-known products birthed from the health technology industry. The good? These consumer products improve the user’s wellness and get patients engaged in their health care. The bad? Accessibility issues persist for aging and rural populations who are slower to adopt technology, in some cases due to lack of reliable broadband access.
To achieve accessible, high-quality, and affordable health care through innovative technologies, there has to be a workforce trained on how to use the technology, protect the technology and its users, and analyze the technology to inform future innovations. As one panelist roughly quoted John Naisbitt, the industry is “drowning in data, but starving for knowledge.”
What are the barriers to entry? How can mobile technologies be HIPAA compliant? Is the workforce trained to effectively use new technologies? Who are the major players? Will technology make health care more equitable? Finally, what is health care technology, really? RESI’s curiosity is certainly piqued, and we are well poised to help answer these questions. Just ask!