Halamka, Gawande join digital health innovation council

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A new council will focus on electronic health records, consumer wearables, data analytics, telemedicine and more.

More than 30 healthcare experts will form the Digital Healthcare Council to advise Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on ways technology can help improve care delivery, create jobs and reduce healthcare costs in the commonwealth.

Prominent healthcare voices, including John Halamka, M.D., chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess System, and Atul Gawande, M.D., executive director of Ariadne Labs at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, are being tapped for the panel.

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It will focus on strategies to help Massachusetts maximize its role in efforts such as electronic health records, consumer wearables, data analytics, telemedicine and more in the digital health market, which is estimated to grow to $32 billion over the next decade.

“This council will collaborate to move past barriers in the healthcare industry and solve significant challenges to make advances in patient care, lower health care costs and address public health crises, like the opioid epidemic,” Baker, a Republican, said in an announcement.

RELATED: Healthcare innovation won't come to those who wait

The council will augment the Massachusetts Digital Health Initiative, a public-private partnership launched in January to position the state as a digital innovation hub. It has been compared to a previous initiative to expand the biotech and life sciences industries in Massachusetts.

The council will steer and shape that initiative, but its initial function will be to create a three-year growth plan outlining how the state can promote and accelerate digital healthcare innovation. Projects supporting that growth plan are set be created later.

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