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HealthCare Checkup

The Seattle Times health-care team tracks the local impact of the Affordable Care Act.

October 24, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Seattle facility aims to jump start local health-care industry

Northwest business leaders have a plan to jump start Seattle’s health-care industry by creating a new facility that will “foster innovation and transformation” in the field.

The Cambia Grove is envisioned as a place for folks who want to develop and test health-care innovations to come together and collaborate. Regence BlueShield and health-care providers Qliance and UW Medicine have joined the effort, which is being led by Cambia Health Solutions, a Portland-based health care company that includes Regence.

“The Puget Sound region could be the next generation’s health-care start-up cluster,” said Nicole Bell, executive director of the project. The initiative was announced Friday at a meeting hosted by the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association, a trade group.

While Seattle is a leader in technology, online sales, coffee and aerospace, its health industry is lagging, the project’s supporters said. They imagine the city competing economically with established health-care hubs such as Nashville, Minneapolis and Boston.

Cambia Grove isn’t exactly an incubator or accelerator, said  Rob Coppedge, senior vice president of strategic investments for Cambia Health Solutions. The idea is to identify health-care challenges and bring entrepreneurs and others together — even folks who are competitors — to find ways to solve them. They could do pilot projects and strategize ways to bring ideas to scale.

“We think it’s a new approach,” Coppedge said.

The effort will be supported by an advisory panel of experts from across the health, business and public-sector communities.

An example of a problem that Cambia Grove participants might tackle would be combating depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). A group would form to consider solutions, said Bell, such as creating a virtual companion or better distribution of vitamin D.

The 9,000-square-foot Seattle home for the enterprise is still under construction and should be completed in late January or February. Cambia officials would not say what the facility will cost to build or how much money the company is investing in the effort.

“It’s not about how much money we’re bringing,” Coppedge said, “it’s how much can we attract into this region.”g

Comments | Topics: health insurance

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