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Royalty and Healthcare IT: A prince comes to Boston

Posted by Devin Cole  October 31, 2011 09:30 AM

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The Crown Prince of Denmark was in town on October 20th, giving a keynote speech at the Connect Health Symposium at Park Plaza Hotel. He mentioned that Denmark spends about half of what the US does on health care, while the living standard there is slightly higher than here. He hinted that a part of this was due to excellent IT in the Danish health system, and, by the way, representatives of these companies are at the conference today.


His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, addressing the Connect Health Symposium in Boston, October 20, 2011

Royalty brings pixie dust. The audience quieted down in expectation of the Prince's arrival, and the room was full. Could as much bang have been gotten from Danish tax payers bucks, had he been an elected official? The Prince and his entourage swooshed in quietly looking sleek and modern, with tailored suits, white shirts and black shoes – rather like a Danish wind turbine. No frills, no ties, no color.

Yesterday, a different Danish delegation was in town. The Danish government is worried about economic growth. Small Danish startup companies fail to grow big. Looking to the US, they notice that only Silicon Valley and Boston produce startup companies that grow. Even the Research Triangle has a poor track record. What are the Valley and Boston doing right?

Without presuming to know the answer, there must be something about the critical mass in the life sciences here in Boston: research hospitals, universities, large pharma and medical device companies, smaller biotech companies, lots of startups, risk capital in a number of forms, legal teams that have been here before, marketing and sales people who have also been here before.

Danish health IT companies, and medical technology companies in general, want to come to Boston because this is where you can find all the talent you need. Plugging yourself in here means being plugged in.

And foreign companies want to come to the US in general because the market is so big.

And then you can charge anything you want in the US. In other places, such as Britain, drug prices are set by an independent body that relates the price to the improvement in the quality of life that it brings. So if you are a Danish medtech company, whether you are in drugs, health IT, or in medical devices, you want to come to the large US market, where you can set the price that allows you to recoup the capital invested in R&D.

The Prince may have a point, but the US is also spending twice as much on health care because it indirectly subsidizes Danish companies.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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