Convenes largest group of host institution judges in the U.S., results in 27 offers to pilot new technologies.
DENVER, COLORADO (Oct. 8, 2015) – Eight healthcare innovations imagined by local entrepreneurs are a big step closer to reality, thanks to sponsorships and cash they earned in the 2015 Digital Health Challenge, one of the largest contests of its kind in the nation.
Prime Health, Colorado’s digital health ecosystem, organized the largest group of healthcare institutions in the U.S. to judge startup pilot proposals for digital health technologies. The 17 “host” institutions bid on opportunities to test the programs. Also at stake was a share of $150,000 in seed money provided by the Colorado Health Foundation.
“We are pleased to be a part of this one-of-a-kind opportunity that strengthens the evolution of digital health in the state and improves access to quality care for all Coloradans,” said Jesse Wolff, director of Private Sector Initiatives for the Colorado Health Foundation. “Our goal at the Foundation is to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation. The cutting-edge innovations and partnerships cultivated as the result of this event will help us to reach that goal.”
The innovations were presented in a tense competition attended by over 575 spectators at the Denver Art Museum Sept. 30. Ideas ranged from a device that notifies a woman by smart phone when she is fertile to ambulance technology that beams information to emergency rooms ahead of the patient. The eight finalists had been selected from an original 21 contestants. Their presentations were honed over three months of mentoring and pitch coaching. In the end, all eight received at least one offer from a host institution, with a total of 27 offers made.
“We have set our sights on making Colorado No. 1 in the nation in digital health. The enthusiasm and engagement of these host institutions for this year’s competition proves the state has what it takes to hit this goal by 2020,” said Jeffrey Nathanson, CEO of Prime Health. “With the Colorado Health Foundation putting up $150,000 to spur innovation, with 17 health systems across the state stepping up to provide the proving ground, and with a field of validated and qualified companies so deep that all finalists earned support – all the ingredients are there to reach this goal.”
Nathanson noted that Prime Health set an interim goal of accumulating $100 million in investment funding for Colorado digital health companies in 2015. Three quarters into the year, investment is just over $90 million.
“Digital health” encompasses information and communication technologies such as telemedicine, genomics, mobile apps, wearable technologies and data analytics. It presents the greatest opportunities to improve people’s health and to make the healthcare system more effective, efficient and less expensive.
Kim Gandy, CEO of Play-It Health in Kansas City, Kansas, was so impressed with the Digital Health Challenge, conducted during Denver Startup Week, that she said she is considering moving her company to Colorado. “What you have going on here is phenomenal. You are undoubtedly going to become one of the dominant centers of digital health in the world,” she said.
The 17 healthcare systems that stepped up to partner with the startup innovators included large hospital and healthcare systems such as HealthONE/HCA, Kaiser Permanente, University of Colorado Health, Aetna, Denver Health, Colorado HealthOP and SCL Health. The host institutions also included community health organizations such as Colorado Community Managed Care Network, Community Health Partnership in Colorado Springs, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, Aspen Valley Hospital and Salud Family Health Centers.
The eight winning innovations are:
- An intra-vaginal device by Prima-Temp of Boulder that monitors continuous core body temperature, one of the most reliable indicators of female fertility. When a woman is fertile, the device activates an alert on the woman’s smart phone app. Asked if the device can also alert the woman’s partner, Prima-Temp CEO Lauren Costantini said, “Only if the woman so chooses. And the alert tone could even be Barry White.”
- Online networking technology by C3LX that engages people with pre-diabetes to increase their activity and help them make good food choices. Data also can be shared with patients’ providers, enabling them to focus efforts on people who are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, one of the nation’s costliest conditions.
- A system that allows healthcare providers to share photos, charts and other visual information with patients while they are on the phone. Radish Systems of Boulder will expand its ChoiceView system, which can send a video of a procedure, a photo of a pill, or other instructive visuals to ease translation of complex health information. Among the institutions offering to test the system was Clinica Tepayac, which serves many Spanish-speaking patients.
- A smart phone app that collects an individual’s activity information and converts it into one easy-to-understand score. The concept, by Play-it Health of Kansas City, Kansas, provides rewards and instant feedback to patients, and also helps providers keep track of patients’ progress.
- Communications technology onboard ambulances that sends advance information to emergency rooms. Novum Concepts, started by two Denver paramedics, can send a photo of a driver’s license, an EKG, or video of the patient symptoms, viewable by ER personnel on an iPad. Novum will expand its Biophone technology, currently being tested at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Louisville.
- A computer decision support tool that can process an unlimited number of data inputs about a patient and generate an expert-level differential diagnosis and instant workup guide to help clinicians both make better decisions in diagnosis and minimize over- and under-utilization. Physician Cognition, originally based in Telluride, now operates out of Boulder. The company plans to release a version that provides superior guidance to laypeople.
- An online gaming app that groups pre-diabetes patients together with health coaches who present daily challenges and rewards. The solution by NextStep.io uses data collected by wearables, such as Fitbits. Six host institutions scrambled to test this program.
- A computer tool that gives physicians immediate comparative information about possible diagnostic tests, enabling them to choose the most proven and cost-effective ones. Test Appropriate believes its program will save money wasted on tests that do not provide valuable information or for which a less costly alternative is available.
Cameron Powell, CEO of Physician Cognition, praised Prime Health for creating a fertile environment for digital health innovation. “They brought companies together, created a common vision, made the introductions and brought in subject matter experts to give us feedback lean startup style. They speeded things up and that’s how you do innovation.”
About Prime Health
Established in 2012, Prime Health is a statewide business ecosystem of health care administrators, providers, technologists, academics, entrepreneurs and investors commercializing emerging digital health technologies to improve health outcomes and patient experience and lower health care costs. The organization represents over 125 Colorado-based digital health companies and more than 1,200 collaborators, with grassroots chapters in Denver, Boulder, Centennial, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. Ranking among the top 10 digital health ecosystems nationally, Prime Health’s goal is to make Colorado the top Digital Health and Health Innovation state in the U.S. by 2020.
About the Colorado Health Foundation
The Colorado Health Foundation works to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation by ensuring that all Colorado kids are fit and healthy and that all Coloradans achieve stable, affordable and adequate health coverage to improve their health with support from a network of primary health care and community services. To advance our mission, the Foundation engages the community through grant-making, public policy and advocacy, private sector engagement, strategic communications, evaluation for learning and assessment and by operating primary care residency training programs. For more information, please visit www.ColoradoHealth.org.
For more information contact Leslie Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org.