Cedars-Sinai accelerator recruits new managing director (Updated)

The change follows the departure of Omkar Kulkarni, who previously served as director of the program. He became the first chief innovation officer for Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles earlier this month.

Note: This post has been updated from an earlier version to include comments from Anne Wellington, who is the new managing director of the Cedars-Sinai accelerator.

As Cedars-Sinai accelerator run by Techstars recruits healthcare startups for its fourth cohort, which is scheduled to start in July, there will be a new managing director to run it following the departure of Omkar Kulkarni. He became the first chief innovation officer for Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles earlier this month.

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Kulkarni helped run the first three cohorts of the accelerator, starting in 2015.

Anne Wellington, who was named the managing director of the accelerator, previously worked as a mentor and entrepreneur-in-residence for Techstars. In contrast to Kulkarni’s experience working at Cedars-Sinai, most of Wellington’s professional experience has focused on working for health IT vendors such as software analytics business Stanson Health and Epic Systems, where she worked with hospitals to help implement electronic medical records and also began her career. Additionally, she was part of Cedars-Sinai’s electronic medical record go-live team in 2011.

Asked how she would tap her experience in her new role, Wellington highlighted a few areas that she said would be highly relevant, in response to emailed questions.

“To date, I’ve spent my career supporting various facets of the healthcare IT industry: at a growing startup, within a health system IT department, and at a large EMR vendor. Having an understanding of how these different players think and operate is valuable in guiding early stage companies, especially when the founders might be new to the industry. Also, all my roles have had a significant customer-facing aspect, so I have heard a lot of candid and honest feedback from clinicians and stakeholders about what they value and need from technology and vendors. I think being able to share that insight, and also being able to very directly relate to the challenges that our companies face, is critical in supporting the companies in the accelerator.”

The accelerator model has been evolving in recent years. Healthbox shifted to become more of a hospital consulting business and HIMSS  acquired it earlier this year. Others, such as Pulse@MassChallenge, have focused on matchmaking between startups and specific needs identified by partners such as healthcare organizations. Many have done away with providing funding in exchange for stakes in the business altogether, instead relying on their ability to help startups plug into their networks of investors, mentors, healthcare facilities and other partners.

Asked how the Cedars-Sinai accelerator would remain relevant and competitive, Wellington answered this way.

It’s essential for us to understand where we fit into the landscape of digital health and medtech accelerators, as well as the industry as a whole. We’re seeing the industry mature – more investment money, larger and later stage deals, etc. We’re also seeing more health systems follow Cedars-Sinai’s lead in fostering innovation through accelerator-type programs, so companies have more choice than ever in finding a program that is right for them. So, we are always looking at the program to evaluate if we need to make tweaks or adjustments to prepare companies for success in a changing industry. That said, the core of the program is the depth of industry expertise that we can offer companies. We feel confident that we are offering something unique in the amount of access we give companies to world class mentors, both at Cedars-Sinai and through our network around the country, and that will remain the foundation of the program.

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