Orlando Sentinel: Health tech investment growing in Central Florida, state

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PlanSource was featured in an Orlando Sentinel article detailing growth in the Central Florida tech sector written by Marco Santana. Text from the piece is below and the full article can be found here.

Health tech investment growing in Central Florida, state
Marco Santana
February 9, 2016
Copyright © 2016, Orlando Sentinel

Central Florida health tech firms have changed how patients track health-care records, introduced new forms of virtual reality into the medical world, and built new tools for laparoscopic surgeries.

Such innovation helped the sector lead the way last year in venture capital investment for the region, reflecting a national trend. New developments in the region, including the permanent arrival of the Healthbox accelerator program to an Orlando headquarters, make Central Florida a growing hub for health tech.

The potential for job growth in the region has experts excited about health tech’s future here. Florida Hospital has also jumped into the health tech development scene with plans for its Health Village life science incubator.

“We are very well positioned in this industry,” said Mitchel Laskey, an Orlando-based investor who has invested in multiple health tech companies. “There is an opportunity for innovation here. We are doing our fair share of building terrific companies and attracting capital.”

Investment dollars went to a handful of local health tech companies in 2015.

Winter Park-based GeniCon designs and builds patented surgical instruments; last year it received two investments for a total of $4 million.

AssistRX, which employs about 100 people in Orlando, received $1 million last year for its Web-based data management tools.

But the largest of last year’s investments, by far, was PlanSource, which attracted a $70 million round in the third quarter of last year for its cloud-based tech that helps employers manage benefit plans.

The 8-year-old company employs more than 400 people nationwide, including roughly 180 at its Orlando headquarters in the downtown Exchange Building. This year, the company expects to hire roughly 150, buoyed by the capital investment.

“Success breeds success and people are starting to see companies do well here,” CEO Dayne Williams said. “When that happens, they bring their own opportunities here.”

Williams said innovation happens when creativity intersects with a need, especially when new factors are rolled into the equation.

“Employers are throwing their hands up” because of the Affordable Care Act, said Williams, who was raised in Leesburg. “They are all coming at the same time to a market that needed change.”

Central Florida’s broad health-care sector employs more than 92,000 people, according to data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics. That includes nearly 4,800 companies and $5.3 billion in annual payroll.

The growth of Central Florida as a place for health tech comes as the population ages and expects more tech-savvy health care providers.

Along with new provisions laid out by the Affordable Care Act, these trends have created a market for those who can simplify things for patients and providers.

The health care industry has generally adopted tech slowly but that has changed of late, creating a boom in the tech industry.

“There is just an explosion of health care IT companies, in particular,” said George Gordon, who leads the Healthbox accelerator. Healthbox is a program of GuideWell Innovation, the parent company of Florida Blue“It’s extremely ripe for disruptive technologies and finding new ways to do business.”

Healthbox offers an eight-week program for health care-related startup companies, and will bring its program to Lake Nona Medical City, after previous years in Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami.

Healthbox’s numbers also illustrate the growth in health technology. In three years, more than 3,500 companies have applied to be a part of the program, which offers mentors and other resources.

Edward Hensley, chief commercial officer at Assist RX, said he hears often from venture capitalists and private equity firms interested in his company.

“Orlando has a lot of opportunity with venture capitalists and private equity firms looking at companies like us and those very similar to us,” Hensley said. “We get constant calls but at the same time, we’re still trying to stay ahead of the game and innovate.”

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