CVS ups the ante in connected health

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Teams with business incubator, venture fund to spur digital health tech

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WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health is partnering with startup accelerator MassChallenge and digital health venture fund Rock Health to drive innovation in connected health solutions and and expand areas of focus.

CVS said Wednesday that, as part of its digital strategy, the company is building relationships with cutting-edge organizations in key markets — Boston for health care and San Francisco for technology — to develop advanced solutions that help its 100 million customers better manage their health.

The partnerships with MassChallenge and Rock Health come in the wake of CVS’ opening of its Digital Innovation Lab in June. Located in Boston, the lab will focus on developing digital services and capabilities to provide a more accessible, integrated pharmacy and health experience. In addition, the facility will serve as a hub for the company’s digital team.

“We know that some of the best digital health innovations are already being developed, so we’ve made partnering a key part of our digital efforts,” said Brian Tilzer, senior vice president and chief digital officer for CVS Health. “We have broad scale and resources. MassChallenge offers a competitive startup accelerator program, and Rock Health has an impressive portfolio of market-leading companies. By working collaboratively with each, we can rapidly design and test new ideas, ultimately bringing solutions to our customers that will dramatically impact the way they manage their health.”

Areas of focus for CVS include mobile, personalization, connected health and digital therapeutics. The company said its innovations in these fields complement the work that many of its new partners’ portfolio companies are already exploring. In late August, CVS also had announced collaborations with several telehealth technology providers.

CVS noted that the relationship with MassChallenge furthers its connections in the Boston technology community. MassChallenge runs accelerators in Boston, Israel and the United Kingdom that aim to link high-impact startup businesses with the resources they need. Through the partnership, high-potential startups will have access to CVS’ scale and resources to help develop next-generation, customer-centric products, according to the companies

“We’ve seen steady growth in the number of digital health startups that are seeking entrepreneurial resources. We hope that by working with CVS Health, these startups will gain access to an even greater network of resources, helping them to develop their products, make new discoveries and rapidly grow their businesses,” said Scott Bailey, managing director of MassChallenge Boston.

CVS said its sponsorship of Rock Health — described as the first venture fund dedicated to digital health — will enable the fund’s portfolio partners to engage directly with CVS Health and help solve today’s health care challenges.

“CVS Health is in a unique position to deeply impact the future of health care in the U.S., and we’re honored they’ve chosen to work alongside Rock Health,” commented Malay Gandhi, managing director of Rock Health, based in the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco. “Working with the most forward-thinking companies in the industry is a major pillar of how we provide meaningful support to our portfolio companies.”

Rock Health partners include AARP, Abbott, Blue Shield of California, Boehringer Ingelheim, Brigham and Women’s, Deloitte, Genentech, Kaiser Permanente, Qualcomm Life, UCSF and the VA Center for Innovation.


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