One of the Nation’s Largest Payers Wants to Talk to Health Innovators

Colorado Office of eHealth Innovation Director Mary Anne Leach (left) spoke at a recent meeting of Prime Health’s Safety Net Advisory Board.

For the past two years, several healthcare policy-makers, health system executives, and health-tech innovators have been gathering each quarter at a coworking space in downtown Denver. As members of Prime Health’s Safety Net Advisory Board, they have been meeting to answer a pressing question, “How can we get the latest in health technology to the patients who need it most?”

“We see innovation as a huge opportunity to partner with different communities and solve some persistent problems,” said Mary Anne Leach, Director of the Office of eHealth Innovation (OeHI), at last week’s meeting of the Safety Net Advisory Board. “We think there are many opportunities that are ripe for innovation and new thinking, and we’re excited to be working with you.”

Leach had been invited to speak by the Safety Net Advisory Board about Colorado’s Health IT Roadmap. Unveiled in November 2017, the roadmap consists of 16 initiatives designed to enhance care, lower costs, and improve health for all Coloradans. OeHI partnered with Prime Health to engage with health innovators and develop a common understanding of how technology can be leveraged in areas such as care coordination, quality measurement, and access to information.

“Access to information is still a problem,” Leach said. “We still have big gaps and information silos. There isn’t a lot of information sharing in some critical areas, particularly the safety net.”

Of the 16 initiatives in the roadmap, OeHI recently decided to request funding for nine of them. According to Leach, the organization wants to explore ways to uniquely identify patients and providers. It wants to promote the creation of a consumer portal, which will provide Colorado’s citizens with access to information about their health plans and care. OeHI is also interested in improving the state’s health information exchanges, and maximizing investment in health IT.

“We need affordable health IT,” said Leach. “We need affordable analytics. We need to find a way to give our rural communities better access to technology.”

Gabriel Tarin, Director of Strategic Projects at Metro Community Provider Network (MCPN), speaks with Kaakpema “KP” Yelpaala, CEO of

Several Prime Health companies were mentioned as potential partners for the nine initiatives. The patient engagement efforts of digital health startups like C3LXCareLoop, and Play-It-Health were highlighted. The telehealth platforms built by CirrusMDmyStrength, and TeleSpine were detailed. In a nod to the vulnerability of the medically underserved to public health issues like sexually transmitted diseases and the opioid crisis, the innovations developed by Preventative Technology SolutionsRxAssurance, and RxREVU were also discussed.

Listening to Leach, it became clear that the State of Colorado was receptive to new ideas, interested in experimenting with new approaches, and eager to leverage innovation to solve some of its toughest health problems.

“There’s a need for innovation,” said Leach. “There’s a desire to do new things to help this population.”

Near the end of the gathering, Leach invited health innovators to contact the Office of eHealth Innovation and attend one of its meetings, which are open to the public.

“We have many different grant opportunities for innovators,” Leach added. “There are ways to connect to our vendor system. It can be a little challenging navigating the size of the system. But the state does a great job of opening things up to the market.”

Kerry Sims (center left), VP of Hitachi Consulting, talks with Steve Adams (right), CEO of Prime Health, and others.

After the meeting was over, several members of the Safety Net Advisory Board stayed to discuss potential collaborations with Colorado’s Office of eHealth Innovation. Ideas were discussed, solutions described, and projects considered with a newfound eagerness.

“Don’t be afraid to talk to the government,” said Leah Spielberg, grants manager at the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. “We’re never going to do your Series A. But we do $9 billion in direct service contracting just at my agency.”

“If you need a use case to take to VCs,” she added, “we could probably work with you on that.”


Interested in connecting with the members of Colorado’s digital health community? Join us at our next meet-up on February 22nd!