November 20, 2022

The Digital Health Institute for Transformation (DHIT) 2022 Happy Hour series officially wrapped last week with an immersive program hosted at American Underground, a vibrant entrepreneurial hub located in the heart of Downtown Durham. Attendees learned about the future of health innovation led by the recent formation of the North Carolina Health Innovation District (NCHID). This initiative will connect and unite health innovation districts across the state to share learnings, resources and best practices with a focus on addressing health inequities and improving population health. The benefits of the program were highlighted in a fireside chat between DHIT CEO and Co-founder of the NCHID, Michael Levy; and the Associate CEO of Innovation & AI at the University of Montreal Health Center and Co-founder of the Montreal Health Innovation District (QIS), Kathy Malas. Malas is a committed leader with more than a decade of experience integrating innovation as a vector of transformation and value creation for patients, their loved ones, teams, organizations, and society. Her research interests are in the management of creativity, innovation, and knowledge in healthcare. Check out some of the highlights from their conversation below!

What makes a Health Innovation District (HID) work and what benefit does it provide?

ML: “Health Innovation Districts provide access to clinical validation and rapid feedback loops to demystify innovation and connect the entrepreneurial community to funding accelerators that will accredit and amplify the value that their solutions provide as well as connect their solutions to the rest of the digital health ecosystem and community at large. There are massive inefficiencies in the marketplace to drive and grow innovation at scale; there needs to be a convener and that’s the role the NCHID can play.”

KM: “Trust is essential for this to happen. We cannot collaborate and cooperate without trust. It is essential for the Health Innovation District and the goals of tackling social inequities locally and globally.”

Why are you launching your respective HIDs?

KM on the QIS: 

“In order to solve complex issues such as chronic disease, poverty, and other health inequities, we need to engage with the community to co-create solutions for today as well as tomorrow. We need to facilitate access to health information to drive community betterment. There are tools and processes available and we should enable them, connect them, and grow them to drive improvements in population health. We also need to facilitate a better understanding of the operating models and the drivers of health by tapping into our communities to promote access and education and engage citizens as agents of their own health.”

ML on the NCHID: “North Carolina – despite great rankings for innovation and entrepreneurship, including the title of ‘the best state to do business in’ – ranks in the bottom percentile for health outcomes across the US. NC has substantial resources that are not being directed or deployed in our communities to drive positive health outcomes. If we are not thinking about how to solve against the massive inequities between NC’s health outcomes and innovation capacity, then we are failing; we do not understand our ‘why.’ However, at DHIT we understand our ‘why’: to increase and accelerate the adoption of health innovation across our state from end-to-end and in every direction. That starts with the NCHID and connecting the brightest minds in health innovation locally and globally and combining virtual and physical programming and infrastructure to leverage the growing ecosystem of digital health resources and talent across the state and beyond to address health inequities and pave the way for community health and wealth.”

What is the value of the HID? 

KM: “It allows our respective ecosystems to reach their full synergistic potential locally and extend that collaboration globally. We cannot innovate alone; it is only through connection, partnership, and shared vision rallying around a common goal of population health improvement through creating equitable access to health and wealth that we unlock our full potential. The value of the HID is ultimately in being a massive convener of innovation – with a concerted focus on cooperation rather than competition – to share learnings and best practices to make a real difference in the inequities of legacy and antiquated health systems and society as a whole.”

Well said! Many thanks and much gratitude to Kathy for the enlightening and thought-provoking discussion and shared vision to cap off a successful year of programming. In addition to an illuminating fireside chat, attendees were also treated to a surgical AR demonstration led by Novant Health’s Institute of Innovation and Artificial Intelligence featuring Microsoft’s HoloLens. We are so excited to connect North Carolina and Montreal to establish tangible, systemic population health improvement and graduate from siloed innovation to shared learning and best practices across the ecosystem.

We will pick back up in January with a new series of events for 2023 (and some exciting updates!) Stay tuned!

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Talk soon!