Top Ten Reasons Boston is the Ultimate Digital Health Hub

Boston is full of history. It’s home of the Boston Tea Party, the U.S.S. Constitution, the Freedom Trail, and scores of people who’ve made names for themselves here, too. While we're proud of our past, we're looking forward to a bright future. We're known for our muscle, which has helped us win historical battles and sports championships – go Pats/Celtics/Red Sox/Bruins, etc.! However, Bostonians are even more renowned for our brains. We've seen way more medical breakthroughs and scientific discoveries than home runs by Big Papi.

Boston is a powerhouse for digital health – and we’re just getting started. Here, an ever-growing number of startups, academic medical centers, investors and academics are joining forces. They're using analytics, devices, data, wearable technologies, electronic health records and more to effectively improve healthcare by saving consumers time and money and helping providers deliver better care.

Follow our DigitalDownload, part of the Brigham Innovation Hub (iHub), to learn how Boston is creating new history.

MIT sailboats.

And now, the list! Boston is:

…home to a wealth of intellect

Top-tier educational institutions like Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston University, Northeastern and Tufts, give Boston the highest student population per capita in the U.S. We’re also home to some of the best academic medical centers in the world, including Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and my home, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), ranked #1 and #6, respectively, on U.S. News and World Report’s list of best hospitals.

…the top recipient of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding

2015 was the 20th consecutive year that Boston-based organizations received more NIH research funding than any other city in the nation. Enough said.

Jessica Dudley, MD, chief medical officer of Brigham and Women's Physicians Organization, and Adam Licurse, MD, speak with Calum MacRae, MD, at iHub’s Digital Health Shark Tank.

…the origin of countless scientific breakthroughs

  • In 1954, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital won the Nobel Prize for successfully culturing the polio virus in 1949, making possible the development of the Salk and Sabin vaccines.
  • In 1979, MGH radiologists pioneered the MRI scan.
  • In 2005, BWH researchers were the first to prove that measuring C-reactive protein (CRP) levels is just as important to predicting heart attacks as measuring cholesterol.

…known for its spirit of innovation

We are Forbes' #8 city to start a business and Qmed’s #2 city for health innovation. Also, Boston is the #3 city for venture capital investments in tech, with more than $3.1 billion invested in 2012 (the most recent year data is available).

…home to world-renowned thought leaders in tech, medicine and research

Betsy Nabel, MD, president of Brigham and Women's HealthCare, speaks at a BWH town hall with Ron Walls, MD, chief operating officer of BWH.

Trailblazing scientists and authors from Boston include Eric Lander, PhD, founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; Betsy Nabel, MD, president of Brigham and Women’s Health Care (BWHC); Sandy Pentland, PhD, founder of the MIT Media Lab and director of the MIT Connection Science and Human Dynamics labs; Michael Porter, PhD, MBA, Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at Harvard Business School; and Clay Christensen, MBA, Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

Harvard Medical School.

…ahead of the curve on digital health

In May 2015, BWH successfully transitioned to an integrated, electronic health record (EHR) system called Epic with the implementation of Partners eCare. BWH was the first institution within Partners HealthCare to go live with both the clinical and financial platforms simultaneously – making it the most complex and one of the largest system implementations for Epic in the nation.

2015 BWH digital health Hackathon "Genius Bench" mentors give advice to weekend "hackers."

…home to more than 250 digital health companies

American Well, athenahealth, PillPack, Health Leads and Oracle – just to name a few – were born and raised in Beantown. See Beta Boston’s great infographic of the top 100.

…home to its very own Innovation district

It houses the global headquarters of Vertex Pharmaceuticals and many healthcare, tech and pharma giants. We are excited to welcome GE to the neighborhood this year!

…a hop, skip and a jump away from Kendall Square in Cambridge, Mass.

Undoubtedly one of the most intellectually saturated areas on the planet, Kendall is an intersection of academia (MIT, the Broad Institute, the Whitehead Institute) and industry (Biogen, Genzyme, Microsoft, IBM Watson Health and Novartis, just to name a few). Google has an office there, too.

…the site of a recent major announcement

Mass. Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh just launched an incredible state-wide digital health initiative. The program will aim to accelerate innovation, improve patient care, decrease healthcare costs and create jobs. More on that soon!

Did we miss anything? Let me know in the comments what you think makes Boston the best city for digital health.

What are you innovating today?

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Lesley Solomon, iHub Executive Director