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Can Innovations Created In Denver Help Fix A Broken Healthcare Industry?

The healthcare industry needs treatment for what ails it, but no one's quite sure how to go about it. That's where places like Catalyst HTI here in Denver might prove their worth—as places where entrepreneurs, startups and established systems come together to innovate. Will it work? The speakers at our Denver Healthcare Development & Expansion Conference took up that question, and other challenges facing the industry locally and nationally. 


Above: Kaiser Permanente VP Brent Bowman, the Beck Group design principal, Denver, David Morris, and Prime Health CEO Jeffrey Nathanson, part of the Catalyst HTI case study panel.

Our case study speakers focused on Catalyst HTI in RiNo, which will bring together private enterprise, government, academic and nonprofits with healthcare providers and payers to accelerate innovation when completed in 2018. How is Catalyst different from other incubators? It embodies the notion of digital health, to bridge the divide between entrepreneurs and startups in the space and established healthcare systems. 

Catalyst HTI is a place where various entities work toward common goals. It isn't an incubator—though there are several committed to the space. It isn't an accelerator—though there are several of those committed, too. It isn't a co-working space—that's just the fourth floor. The property will be an industry integrator, Catalyst HTI president Mike Biselli said. The effectiveness of the property will be based on the ability of tenants to interact and collaborate.


Here are Koelbel & Co president Walter Koelbel Jr., Catalyst HTI president Mike Biselli, and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck shareholder Ian O'Neill, who moderated the case study panel.

Our speakers said the US has the most expensive healthcare system in the world—costing $3 trillion/year now, trending upward fast—but not the best in terms of outcomes. As much as one-third of total spending is wasteful. Catalyst HTI aims to promote the kind of innovation in the healthcare sector that deals with this problem. 

Healthcare is one of the last, if not the last, major industries to adopt mobile tech and IT infrastructure and other new technologies for its own management, speakers said. The technology of patient treatment has far outpaced everything else that's happened in the healthcare industry, and that needs to change, because the system is broken. Catalyst HTI's goal is to facilitate that change, not just for Colorado, but nationwide.


Two of our healthcare renaissance panelists: Fleisher Smyth Brokaw CEO Michelle Brokaw and HealthONE Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center & Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children CEO Maureen Tarrant.

Telemedicine is at the cutting edge of medical treatment here in Denver and throughout the world, our healthcare renaissance panel speakers said. That's because a hospital that does complicated and specialized procedures, such as the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, draws patients from around the world. Later, telemedicine will be a critical link in communication between patients in their homes and the physicians who treated them in Denver.

But that's not all. Modern operating rooms are being equipped with cameras so surgeons throughout the world can watch specialized and complicated surgery in real time. Also, children in rural communities with conditions such as cardiac disease don't have many specialists available. Specialists here in Denver can help diagnose those conditions remotely, so that helicopters can be dispatched to pick them for lifesaving treatment here. That's the power of telemedicine.


Here's Northstar Commercial Partners CEO Brian Wilson and Hord Coplan Macht principal Lou Posada, who moderated the healthcare renaissance panel.

Build-outs done only a few years ago are becoming obsolete, as physicians rethink their space, especially because of technology. One example: As doctors convert to electronic records, that impacts the need for medical office space, since physical records won't be necessary going forward. Clinics and hospitals are also rethinking their space, not only because of technology, but because the pressure is on to do more with less.

The idea of flexible, smaller space is coming to healthcare. That's been the trend for some time in more standard office settings, but until recently not as much for healthcare space.


There's really no such thing as a simple real estate development when it comes to healthcare space, our speakers said. The developer has to be a partner with the healthcare provider in making the space a reality, participating in ways, such as fundraising efforts for a hospital, that normally aren't within the purview of a development. That's the new paradigm in healthcare development.

Pictured: A full house at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel. Event sponsors included View Dynamic Glass, Hord Coplan Macht and Beck.