Utah is becoming a hub for healthcare innovation
As more people gain a better understanding of the healthcare system in the United States, urgency-driven regulatory changes and innovation have been positioned to overcome the pitfalls of American health.
The emergence of a “work from anywhere” lifestyle provided the discovery of a multitude of reorganization tactics. The healthcare industry found ways to move hospitals to parking lots, deliver care over Zoom, and issue protective equipment without requiring end-all-be-all locations. While the pandemic seems to be behind us, health agencies continue to use the pandemic as a motivator for better care. Yet, one state has led the charge for innovative health: Utah.
Compared to every other state, Utah is considered to be the home to the second-best healthcare system in the nation, according to Mecart, a “cleanroom” manufacturer.
In its analysis, Mecart judged each state on a 10-point scale based on its healthcare system quality, the number of staffed beds per capita, average emergency room wait times, coverage, and annual healthcare premium costs. When examining state metrics, Utah finished second in healthcare quality, 11th for accessibility, had the cheapest annual healthcare premiums, and had the highest percentage of employer coverage.
The Beehive State is also home to three high-ranking hospitals: Intermountain Medical Center’s pulmonology program, the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute, and the University of Utah’s Ear, Nose, and Throat Clinic.
With evident success in Utah’s healthcare industry, health innovators are quickly expanding existing services and research.
Founded amid the pandemic, Altitude Lab is an incubator focused on developing a new, diverse generation of healthcare startups and the home to the largest life science lab in the region (14,500 square feet). The lab also has a working partnership with Recursion and the University of Utah that has afforded access to university facilities, intellectual property experts, and top healthcare investors. Startups from Altitude are working to employ technology for cancer treatment and the elimination of post-surgery dependency on opioids.
“Fifteen years ago, Utah’s business-friendly tax policy and highly educated talent pool encouraged everything from tech to finance to thrive in the state,” said Chandana Haque, the executive director of Altitude Lab.
“When we combine that foundation with the strength of Utah’s health systems and research excellence in genomics and oncology, it’s easy to see why we’ve become one of the fastest-growing regions for biotech and healthcare innovation,” Haque said.
In 2021, Utah produced a near $295 million from venture capital.
Today, Altitude works with an Investor Coalition, a network of venture capitalists helping to support startups and grow the life science-focused incubator. Each investor initiates mentoring for the lab’s founders and participates in regular pitch events.
“Policymakers recognize the opportunity to build on this success with new economic development programs, such as Salt Lake City Mayor Mendenhall’s Health Care Innovation Blueprint, which will not only bolster our economy locally but also extend the positive impact of our industry on healthcare globally. It is within this strong and growing innovation economy that Altitude Lab is making laboratories, funding, and our scientific community accessible to diverse entrepreneurs to further fuel to our growth,” said Haque.