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Local entities join to boost technology in health care

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What happens when a health insurance company, a health technology firm and medical providers get together?

It's not the start of a joke – it's the start of a business that will focus on testing new health care technology, such as wearable devices, to make sure providers and insurers will use and pay for products before rolling them out to consumers.

Harrisburg-based Capital BlueCross is hooking up with three Lancaster County organizations – Aspire Ventures, Clio Health and Lancaster General Health – to open a health care technology center in downtown Lancaster this summer, the companies announced Thursday.

Smart Health Innovation Lab will open at 100 N. Queen Street in Lancaster Square. Developers of health care technology will be able to use Smart Health as a place to test their products on patients, providers and even insurer reimbursement models to make sure they integrate with current industry systems.

The hope is that the lab will help to accelerate use of new technology locally, which will in turn improve provider and patient experiences and lower costs.

Smart Health will focus on wearable devices such as diabetic monitors or orthopedic products, such as one that will assess, train and monitor physical therapy patients, a news release said.

"Smart Health Innovation Lab will help turn ideas into powerful new products faster, so that our customers and the broader community can benefit from better health care outcomes and lower costs," said Gary D. St. Hilaire, president and CEO of Capital BlueCross.

The new business venture seeks to help technology companies inject their products into the complex health care system. Due to lack of field testing, new technologies often struggle to gain insurance coverage or acceptance among providers.

"Smart Health Innovation Lab will be a vehicle to help companies overcome common obstacles to bringing technology innovations to market," said Dan Mitchell, vice president of corporate development for Aspire Ventures.

The hurdles are also what inspired Aspire to create Clio Health, a health care center that is being built in Lancaster to house the newest technology health care has to offer in specialties such as orthopedics, physical therapy, imaging and wellness.

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