What if you could improve patient care, provide startups with opportunity, and help grow the economy of New York City?

The Digital Health Breakthrough Network will do just that, and HITLAB is more than proud to be leading the effort, having been selected in a competitive bid that was open to all of New York City. Together with the city’s Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), HITLAB is offering healthcare startups the chance to submit their digital health prototypes for rapid pilot testing and evaluation. Inventors can apply now by filling out a short, online form.

Why are pilot studies so important? Digital health innovation requires more than ingenious ideas; new products must be tested to confirm their utility and effectiveness for patients and other consumers. Pilot studies, or test runs, are needed to validate original technologies so they can be launched successfully in the healthcare arena. In a field that’s changing constantly, it’s essential to scale or pivot products quickly, so they can be introduced in a timely manner for maximum impact.

New York City is the perfect place to launch this initiative, boasting over eight million people, 60,000 licensed physicians, 70 hospitals, 127 Nobel laureates and more biotech patents than any other metro area in the United States. Digital health is exploding in the region, with established leaders like WebMD and ZocDoc, and revolutionary technologies like AdhereTech and OneDrop.  Both NYCEDC and HITLAB have worked with dozens of startups and bring not only impressive expertise but also industry-wide collaborators to the city-based network. And both are determined to improve the health of New Yorkers in an effort that can, by extension, transform global health. NYCEDC will fund the pilot studies, which HITLAB will then execute at sites around the New York metro area.

“New technologies are key to making New York City healthier, and the Digital Health Breakthrough Network provides opportunities for innovators to solve real medical challenges that face New Yorkers,” says NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer.  “New York City is a leader in health care technology and, by facilitating the process by which these products can reach the market, we are helping to make our city a safer, more equitable place.”

HITLAB’s Deputy Director of Innovation Research, Laura Pugliese, MPH, elaborates. “Through the Digital Health Breakthrough Network, fledgling health technology companies will now have the opportunity to gain research-driven evidence and insights on their product at an early stage, allowing them to better tailor their technology for intended users while gaining exposure to the customer environment in the healthcare system.”

Pugliese explains early stage startups don’t typically have the resources to operate research studies that help them validate the feasibility, usability or preliminary efficacy of their products. By offering such testing, the Network hopes to set technology startups on a path to grow into companies with widespread reach and impact on the health of New Yorkers and elsewhere.

NYCEDC and HITLAB are creating an infrastructure that will facilitate collaboration between healthcare providers and startups. Doctors, home health aides, case managers, family caregivers, and consumers will test the prototypes. NYCEDC’s investment in this effort will create over 1,000 direct jobs within 10 years, introduce numerous health practitioners to pioneering technologies, and rush much-needed healthcare solutions—including apps, devices, and cloud-based platforms—to underserved patients.

For more information on the program, and to apply, visit www.digitalhealthbreakthroughnetwork.com