Root Valuation Proud Sponsor of Prime Health Innovation Summit

One of the primary things leaders in healthcare need to understand is complex financial models. We spoke with Root Valuation about their vision of healthcare innovation and who they serve:

Root Valuation is a healthcare focused valuation and financial advisory practice serving clients nationally. Our mission is to provide a consultative approach to valuation that helps clients navigate the complexities of healthcare transactions, particularly those that have Stark Law or Anti-kickback implications.

“Innovation is both about failing and succeeding. Sometimes you get more from the failures when they drive you to succeed. So you need to get out there and work and start doing.”

We believe that a hands-on, consultative approach is the best way to provide sound, defensible valuation advice while still providing actionable solutions that meet the needs of an ever-changing healthcare landscape. And with flexible fee structures and engagement models, Root Valuation’s expertise is accessible to both early stage innovators and established companies.

As new healthcare delivery models and technologies reshape the healthcare landscape, innovators are often faced with the difficult task of navigating a regulatory environment that has not kept pace with the rapid rate of change. When it comes to evaluating commercialization and provider alignment strategies it is important that innovators partner a valuation expert that can help design an economic model that avoids existing regulatory pitfalls while simultaneously providing practical and defensible solutions to navigate the unknown in a strategically viable manner.

Within the healthcare industry the term ‘Fair Market Value’ is defined for regulatory purposes with specific limitations designed to avoid consideration of the value or volume of referrals. Many investors and innovators seeking to bring change to the healthcare industry using solutions and experiences from other industries may be unaware of these limitations, placing their organization at significant risk of civil monetary penalties and other adverse regulatory intervention. At Root Valuation, our goal is to help innovators by providing practical (and compliant) economic advice so that new and effective solutions have the best chance of making a meaningful impact on our industry.

Catalyst HTI and the Prime Health Innovation Summit

Catalyst Health-Tech Innovation is not just a first-of-its-kind building; it’s also a diverse community, and a radical idea to drive real, lasting change.

Mike Biselli was inspired to develop the industry integrator concept during his experience as a Board Member of Prime Health and a Senior Advisor to 10.10.10. He witnessed firsthand the tremendous power a determined community of clinicians, executives, technologists, entrepreneurs, academics, and investors could wield. In partnership with governmental, academic, non-profit, and commercial organizations, Mike Biselli and his team created Catalyst HTI, in order to quicken the pace of industry advancement by providing a welcoming, healthy, and informative environment where thought leaders can collaborate and innovate.

Catalyst HTI joins us for our Innovation Summit and we asked Mike for insight for companies and individuals attending.

“I encourage change agents in healthcare to connect. See what we can create together. I come with a question: What are you passionate about? When we know what problems others are most motivated to solve, partnerships come naturally.”

Located in Denver’s River North District (RiNo), Catalyst HTI is a 180,000 square-foot industry integrator designed to bring health-tech start-ups and established health care entities together under one roof. The building covers an entire block, located on the west side of Brighton Boulevard between 35th and 36th Streets, and houses 50+ health-tech startups and Fortune 100s alike in the race to fix American healthcare.

“If you are passionate about reimagining healthcare, you have a seat at our table.” -Mike Biselli, TEDx RiNo

From established organizations to startups, from business accelerators to advocacy organizations, and from anchor tenants like UCHealth to global leading companies, everyone in Catalyst HTI works side-by-side to create, develop, refine and bring to market cutting edge innovations that will fundamentally transform healthcare as we know it.

Opened in July 2018, Catalyst HTI is now the home of such established names as Kaiser Permanente, Delta Dental, Hitachi, and MGMA. In addition to these healthcare companies and the dozens more startups who call Catalyst HTI home, this space will also house a diverse retail mix of restaurants & bars, on-site cafe, financial services, fitness, and more.

Prime Health is proud to be a part of this innovative community. If you’re truly passionate about changing the industry and improving people’s lives, Catalyst HTI wants to hear from you. What would you like to improve? Join the conversation in person and online, and together we can create a better Healthcare.

Locate, Colloborate, and Learn with Catalyst HTI and their digital health ecosystem at

Epharmix 2018 Challenge Winner Success

Prime Health is excited to share news from our Prime Health Challenge Winner. Epharmix is doing important work with patient monitoring and reaching patients who are difficult to reach. We asked them what they have been up to since the challenge and they shared their partnership with the STRIDE Community Health Center. A large part of their award from Prime Health was due to their ability to do important community work with Denver’s safety net providers.

Epharmix offers evidence-based patient engagement through SMS text messages and calls to monitor patients across 24 conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes. The new partnership will allow STRIDE care teams to use Epharmix’s technology to connect with difficult-to-contact patients with the aim of improving patient health outcomes such as what was seen in Epharmix’s trials – 50% improvement in blood pressure control in patients with hypertension over 12 weeks and a drop in A1c of 1.15, which is a significant improvement in blood sugar control, over 4 months in patients with diabetes.

The partnership with Epharmix will also alert STRIDE care teams when a patient reports poor health. Patients with chronic conditions and behavioral health needs will be able to communicate with their care teams, reducing avoidable Emergency Department visits.

“We know that over-utilization of the Emergency Department is a burden both on our patients and the hospital systems in our community,” said David Nuhfer, MD, Vice President of Community Health for STRIDE. “When we begin to keep patients engaged, we not only improve our patient’s health and healthcare experience, but we reduce the overall cost of care.”

As a Community Health Center, STRIDE addresses the need for affordable and accessible medical, behavioral health, and dental care among low-income, uninsured, and underserved populations residing outside the city and county of Denver. In 2018, 3 out of every 4 STRIDE patients identified at 150% or below the federal poverty level.

“We believe this partnership aligns with the STRIDE vision to empower individuals to live the lives they want through personalized, compassionate care. We are excited to see how this process improves our ability to partner with our patients to provide high-quality patient-centered care,” said Dr. Nuhfer.

Prime Health is looking forward to hearing more about our partners and about technology improving healthcare in the Colorado area. Our vision is to partner and drive innovation in Colorado, and the success of Colorado companies is something we should all celebrate. We look forward to sharing more success stories from innovators at our Innovation Summit on May 6th & 7th. Follow along online through the hashtag #innovationsummit19 and let us know what successes you are proud of!

To contact STRIDE directly, please reach out to:
Media Contact: Erika Oakvik,
(303) 761-1977, Ext. 1120

UnitedHealthcare Sponsors Prime Health Innovation Summit

We are honored to work with UnitedHealthcare as a sponsor for the Innovation Summit. We wanted to learn more about their vision of innovation and the potential of Colorado.

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. In the United States, UnitedHealthcare offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1.2 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,500 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide.

Innovation is at the heart of UnitedHealthcare’s commitment to helping provide people with more personalized, convenient and easier-to-use resources to simplify the health care experience. In fact, UnitedHealth Group is recognized as the top-ranking company in the insurance and managed care sector on Fortune’s 2018 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list.

UnitedHealthcare is helping to change the health care landscape with innovative programs and technology including: wearable device wellness programs, value-based care, online and mobile resources, and integrated care models. We have transformed how we work as an organization to enable our employees to take the time to understand our members’ needs and become a true partner in their care. To achieve that, we are putting consumer experience at the center of how we operate as a company and equipping people to become actively engaged health consumers is driving our innovation. Success for us means responding to each individual, every time, with compassion. One person at a time; millions of times.

According to Marc Neeley, a leader at UnitedHealthcare and speaker at our Innovation Summit: Advanced technologies and breakthrough treatments are redefining what can be achieved in health care today, and tomorrow. Increasingly, innovations in health care delivery are empowering people to more effectively and efficiently manage their own health and well-being, as well as create opportunities for more coordinated care and proactive clinical interventions. UnitedHealthcare is uniquely positioned to positively impact health care’s evolution, leveraging technology and data to help improve health outcomes and modernize the health system to solve important issues for consumers. That’s why UnitedHealthcare spends more than $3 billion annually on data, technology and innovation. Through these investments, we are helping empower people to take charge of their health care and create a health care system that works better for everyone.

One of the most influential aspects of health care today is the evolution of collaborative relationships between health plans and care providers, and cutting-edge partnerships between entrepreneurs and investors. The Innovation Summit provides an opportunity to highlight examples of this work and brainstorm other possibilities, all with the hope of improving the effectiveness of the health care system in meeting patients’ needs and encouraging better experiences and improved outcomes for everyone.

Join us in working with UnitedHealthcare at the Innovation Summit May 6th and 7th, 2019!

2018 Prime Health Challenge Winner Epharmix Expands its Reach with New Partnerships

Epharmix, winner of the 2018 Prime Health Challenge recently signed contracts with Denver-based healthcare providers AllHealth Network and Metro Community Provider Network (MCPN).

Epharmix offers an evidence-based patient engagement platform that uses accessible SMS texts and calls to monitor patients across 24 conditions. The newly formed partnerships will bring Epharmix’s technology into the hands of care managers and providers helping them connect with hard-to-reach patients and improve patient health outcomes throughout Colorado.

As a Federally Qualified Health Center MCPN serves low-income, uninsured, and underserved populations residing outside the city and county of Denver.Epharmix will help MCPN stay connected to patients after they’ve left the doctor’s office and alert MCPN when the patient begins to report poor health. Patients with chronic conditions and mental health needs will be able to get the care they need, avoiding unnecessary Emergency Department visits.

AllHealth Network is a leading behavioral health and mental health provider serving clients of all ages in the Denver region. Epharmix will help AllHealth Network stay connected to clients struggling with behavioral and mental health conditions, providing convenient, accessible, and non-judgemental care.

Cynthia Grant, Chief Clinical Officer & Compliance Officer at AllHealth Network shared her vision for the partnership. “I think there is great potential for AllHealth Network to benefit from using the Epharmix platform with our clients. The communication will help us identify high-risk clients we can target and also (hopefully) keep clients engaged when they are just beginning care– a time period that is often characterized by a sense of urgency, impulsivity, and ambivalence,” she said.

Epharmix CEO, Blake Marggraff shared his excitement, “The Denver health community has been incredibly warm and welcoming. We’re so thrilled with the support and interest from the community and would like to recognize Dr. Ben Bynum of The Colorado Health Foundation, Mike Biselli of Catalyst HTI, and Nicole McNew of the Prime Health Challenge.”

To learn more about Epharmix, visit their website or try a self-guided demo.

Meet the Winners of the 2018 Prime Health Challenge

Epharmix CEO Blake Marggraff won first place for his company at the 2018 Prime Health Challenge.

  • Remote monitoring company Epharmix won the first place prize of $75,000.
  • Telehealth provider Care on Location won the second place prize of $50,000.
  • Symptom tracker Tela won the third place prize of $25,000.

Last Thursday, six health-tech startups took the stage at the EXDO event center to pitch their innovations. They were watched by a panel of payers and providers, as well as an audience of hundreds. The stakes were high. Each startup was competing for a chance to pilot their innovation with a Colorado healthcare organization, and to do so with a share of $150,000.

“I want to thank the Colorado Health Foundation,” said Nicole McNew, executive director of Prime Health. For the past five years, the Colorado Health Foundation has funded the Prime Health Challenge. “Over that time, we’ve awarded $550,000 to fund 19 pilots across the state of Colorado.”

“These pilots significantly contributed to Colorado being ranked one of the top 10 states for digital health.”

The six startups that presented at the 2018 Prime Health Challenge came from around the country. Prior to taking the stage, they had undergone months of rigorous vetting. Each had been chosen to pitch because their innovation offered to radically improve care for underserved patients.

“Innovation doesn’t come from us or big hospitals,” said Kim Bimestefer, executive director of the Colorado Department of Healthcare Policy and Financing. “It doesn’t come from big insurance companies. It comes from you.”

“You can come up with the innovations that continue to help people who are in the most difficult circumstances.”

Tela CEO Christie Menghir won second place for her company at the 2018 Prime Health Challenge.

The first entrepreneur to take the stage was Christie Menghir, CEO of Tela. Tela helps cancer patients track their symptoms, medication usage, and other health data. It then shares this data with providers to improve their care, and with researchers in the field of precision medicine.

According to Tela’s CEO, a recent study demonstrated that sharing such data with providers can increase a patient’s quality of life and improve their overall chance of survival. “This data outperformed all but a couple oncology drugs approved by the FDA that year,” said Menghir.

Tela won the third place prize of $25,000 in pilot funding. The startup received pilot offers from SCL Health and Health One.

TCARE CEO Ali Ahmadi describes the benefits of his company’s platform.

Ali Ahmadi, CEO of TCARE, was next on the stage. According to Ahmadi, health insurers use his company’s platform to reduce caregiver burnout and keep patients out of the nursing home. In a recent two-year pilot, TCARE saved the state of Washington more than $20 million.

“In a cohort of 2,300 caregivers, TCARE was proven to reduce Medicaid-long term care service usage and enrollment by 20%,” said Ahmadi. “Average delayed placement in a nursing home was 21 months.”

TCARE received a pilot offer from the Boulder County Area Agency on Ageing.

Medicipher CEO Stephanie Gravenor addresses the judges of the 2018 Prime Health Challenge.

Medicipher CEO Stephanie Gravenor was the third entrepreneur to pitch. Her company’s platform allows emergency departments to lower staffing costs without sacrificing quality of care. Its predictive analytics also enable emergency departments to better manage patient volume.

“Research tells us that inadequate nurse staffing leads to increased rates of mortality, complications, and safety events,” said Gravenor. “It also leads to higher resource utilization because of the delays in care that increase hospital length of stay.”

Medicipher received a pilot offer from SCL Health.

Care on Location CEO Dr. Jonathon Savage won the second place prize for his company at the 2018 Prime Health Challenge.

Next was Dr. Jonathon Savage, CEO of Care on Location, a Denver-based telehealth services provider. Care on Location delivers quality care to patients using a convenient software platform. For those who need more than a telehealth visit, Care on Location connects them with nearby providers through its geolocation-based matching service.

“Imagine how it feels to be a Medicaid patient who is sick today, but can’t get an appointment for days or weeks,” said Dr. Savage. “Or how it feels to live in a rural community, and there’s no doctor for miles to listen to your concerns.”

“Or how it feels to be the mother of a sick child on a Friday evening, and you don’t know what to do or where to go.”

Care on Location won the second place prize of $50,000 in pilot funding. The startup received pilot offers from All Health Network, Doctor’s Care, and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

Golden CEO Evan Ollinger describes the financial stress most American seniors feel.

Golden CEO Evan Ollinger was the fifth entrepreneur to present. Golden provides financial coaching for seniors, one of the most medically vulnerable populations in the U.S. Its program also checks to see if users qualify for government benefits and drug discounts.

“The fact is that money, or a lack of it, is a prime determinant for healthy aging,” said Ollinger.

Golden received a pilot offer from Denver Health.

Epharmix CEO Blake Marggraff pitches to a panel of payers and providers at the 2018 Prime Health Challenge.

The final entrepreneur to pitch at the Challenge was Blake Marggraff, CEO of Epharmix. A remote patient monitoring company, Epharmix increases engagement through phone and text messages. From these interactions, the company collects data on 23 chronic diseases.

“The patients who need the most help, who would benefit from often simple interventions, are often the most challenging to help,” said Marggraff. “Even when our safety net organizations are investing in fantastic and powerful solutions like case and care management.”

“Because care management as an analog solution is really tough. It involves cold calling. It involves patients that sometimes don’t need help. At the end of the day, it’s a major cost center for safety net institutions.”

Epharmix was awarded the first place prize of $75,000 in pilot funding. The startup received pilot offers from All Health Network, Metro Community Provider Network, Mental Health Center of Denver, and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.


About Prime Health

Prime Health is a business ecosystem of healthcare administrators, providers, technologists, academics, entrepreneurs and investors dedicated to improving healthcare delivery through health tech innovation. Prime serves as a community integrator, accelerating the adoption and implementation of evidence-based emerging technologies that enhance access to care, improve clinical outcomes and reduce costs.  The organization operates Innovation programs and events that bring together community stakeholders to discuss industry needs, identify innovative solutions, and scale partnerships that drive meaningful outcomes. To learn more, visit:


About the Colorado Health Foundation

The Colorado Health Foundation is bringing health in reach for all Coloradans by engaging closely with communities across the state through investing, policy and advocacy, learning and capacity building. For more information, please visit

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Aetna’s Firdaus Bhathena Discusses The Rise of Consumerism in Digital Health

On August 7th, Colorado’s payers, providers and innovators gathered for Prime Health’s Employer Health Innovation Summit. In partnership with Bach Health, Prime Health welcomed Firdaus Bhathena, Chief Digital Officer at Aetna, as the keynote speaker. Firdaus shared his insights on how companies such as Aetna are evolving to meet the changing needs of healthcare consumers. Following are some highlights from the event.


Firdaus opened his presentation by asking the audience to describe what consumer want in healthcare. “Easy, interactive and transparent” were at the top of the list.


“When you look at a person’s overall wellness, 10% of it is determined by clinical health, 30% of it is determined by genetic factors, and the remaining 60% is based on social determinants,” said Firdaus. “Right now, we’re only addressing clinical health.”

Firdaus also noted, “My primary care physician doesn’t influence my health. I only see him once or twice a year.”


“Your zip code and socioeconomic status is more important than your genetic code,” Firdaus emphasized. Research shows that overall health is not just a result of not being sick. It is based on a complex combination of environmental and social determinants, such as your physical and emotional health, your financial health, and your social connections. These determinants influence our health trajectories.


“Being a healthcare financier is a thing of the past. We want to be your health and wellness partner. Can we deliver value to you, without ever charging you? That’s a way to build trust.” Firdaus referring to the “freemium” model that tech companies such as Dropbox use to engage consumers and gradually earn their trust.


“Can we get to a place where consumers trust us with their data?” Firdaus asked. “We have to solve this problem. At Aeta we use artificial intelligence and machine learning to derive insights for Next Best Actions (NBAs) that target a member’s specific health profile. We then explain to consumers why they should take a specific action during their wellness journey.”

Firdaus described a research study commissioned by Aetna that shows that people who haven’t visited a primary care provider (PCP) in the past two years are five to eight times more likely to have an avoidable ER-related visit.

“We can show consumers how to use our digital tools to make an appointment, go see their PCP, and avoid the ER. It’s a win-win for everyone,” said Firdaus. “We did a pilot with a few thousand users where we actually demonstrated value to the user based on strong data science. It led to a 100% increase in visits to PCPs. Now we’re looking at the data to see how it decreased avoidable ER visits.”


“The purpose part is really important in healthcare. Tech people are in general very interested in, “How can I make this better?”” Firdaus describing why Aetna has brought on technical expertise to help solve healthcare problems. “We are the first to admit, we don’t know the future of healthcare. We can test and interate and hopefully have the courage to shut things down that don’t work.”


Read Prime Health’s interview with Firdaus for more insights into how healthcare companies are evolving to meet the needs of today’s heathcare consumers.

The Rise of Consumerism in Digital Health

Prime Health recently spoke with Firdaus Bhathena, Aetna’s Chief Digital Officer, about the rise in consumerism in digital health, and how Aetna is leveraging technology and apps to deliver a hyper-relevant experience to its members.

Aetna is moving from being a healthcare financier to becoming a health and wellness partner for consumers at large. What are the some of the key initiatives that Aetna is implementing to make that shift?

As a healthcare financier, we help our members pay for healthcare and navigate the healthcare system. However, that’s not enough anymore. When you look at a person’s overall wellness, 10% of it is determined by clinical health, 30% of it is determined by genetic factors, and the remaining 60% is based on social determinants. Right now, we’re only addressing clinical health.

“When you look at a person’s overall wellness, 10% of it is determined by clinical health, 30% of it is determined by genetic factors, and the remaining 60% is based on social determinants.”

Your zip code and socioeconomic status is more important than your genetic code.  Overall health is not just a result of not being sick. It is based on a complex combination of environmental and social determinants, including:

·     How is your physical and emotional health?

·     How is your financial health?

·     What are your social connections?

·     Do you have a sense of purpose?

These determinants influence our health trajectories. So, how do we understand them? How do we then enable people to lead happier, healthier, more productive lives? It’s a combination of better understanding of the data, gaining feedback directly from the consumers, and academic insights. For example, Aetna has a research partnership with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to study the determinants of well-being including: physical health, emotional health, social connectedness, financial security, purpose and character strengths. The results of the study will inform future initiatives and allow us to create programs to help improve the well-being of our members.

How does Aetna Digital plan to leverage its deep data assets and technology expertise to deliver an outstanding consumer experience?

We have a mantra here at Aetna, “we need to separate the signal from the noise.” There is a tremendous amount of data and research out there. We need to boil it down and simplify it, so we can help consumers go down the right path. We must provide our members with the information they need to make the best possible decisions for their particular healthcare situation.

“We must provide our members with the information they need to make the best possible decisions for their particular healthcare situation.”

It’s hard to make sense of the huge amounts of data. At Aeta we use artificial intelligence and machine learning to derive insights for Next Best Actions (NBAs) that target a member’s specific health profile. We then explain to consumers why they should take a specific action during their wellness journey.

For example, research shows that people who haven’t visited a primary care provider (PCP) in the past two years are five to eight times more likely to have an avoidable ER-related visit. We can show consumers how to use our digital tools to make an appointment, go see their PCP, and avoid the ER. It’s a win-win for everyone. We did a pilot with a few thousand users where we actually demonstrated value to the user based on strong data science. It led to a 100% increase in visits to PCPs. Now we’re looking at the data to see how it decreased avoidable ER visits. Other NBAs include:

·      Enabling members to better follow their diabetes management plan

·      Enabling members to better adhere to their medication regimen

·      Increasing utilization of tele-health solutions when appropriate

·      Ensuring that members are getting the screenings they need for conditions such as breast cancer and colorectal cancer

·      Enabling members to better follow their discharge instructions after an acute care episode

How will the proposed acquisition of Aetna by CVS benefit healthcare consumers?

The most important point to be made is that this is a vertical integration as opposed to two companies who do much of the same thing coming together to increase market share. Combining Aetna’s managed care benefits and services with CVS Health’s unmatched local presence, and clinical and pharmacy expertise creates a consumer-oriented, vertically integrated care delivery model that has tremendous benefits for the consumer from a cost, convenience, and access to healthcare standpoint. The goal is to provide high-quality healthcare wherever and whenever the consumer needs it in as cost-effective and accessible a manner as possible. Digital tools will surround the consumer with an always-on health and wellness partner, while connecting the consumer to the appropriate local care provider in a timely and efficient manner.

We want to be the best in the business at understanding consumers’ healthcare needs and health ambitions, and providing personalized solutions tailored to each person’s individual situation.

Aetna Digital recently “sunsetted” its iTriage app in favor of the Aetna Health app. What, if any lessons or best practices from iTriage are you applying to Aetna Digital?

iTriage and other solutions had very powerful concepts built into them. Over time, there’s been an increase of point solutions, and the user experience was becoming disjointed.  We’re not thinking about our app from a feature standpoint anymore. Now we’re thinking about it as a user experience.

We’re asking, “What is this person trying to achieve? What are their health ambitions?” iTriage was doing this within a very narrow domain. We looked at our inventory of digital solutions from the member point-of-view and used Aetna Health to integrate various point-solutions for a better user experience.

We’re asking, “What is this person trying to achieve? What are their health ambitions?”

Considering the next generation of healthcare consumers, what are the key goals you would like to see addressed with technology over the next three to five years?

We need to push interoperability across different systems. Data is tied up in different silos. Healthcare is sensitive to the issues of privacy and security which is limiting the value of the data in these silos. We need private, secure access to data. The future of digital health needs to bring this together. How can we leverage AI and machine learning to access this data in order to fix the healthcare problems that this country faces?

Aetna is using advanced analytics and machine learning to act upon the data we have right now, but it’s still pretty cumbersome. Lag time is a problem in healthcare data. Right now, we don’t receive indication of a health issue until a claim is filed. Connected devices will allow for real-time data direct from consumers, allowing us to find these insights directly from the source.

We’re at a major inflection point right now. Healthcare is a national issue that affects all of us in a personal way. Every patient has a story about a healthcare experience where there was room for improvement. Improving this experience means changing the way we do business and leveraging technology to drastically improve the way patients interact with the healthcare system.

Every patient has a story about a healthcare experience where there was room for improvement. Improving this experience means changing the way we do business and leveraging technology to drastically improve the way patients interact with the healthcare system.


Learn more about Prime Health here.

For Many Startups, the Prime Health Challenge Represents a Turning Point

Matrix Analytics CEO Dr. Akrum Al-Zubaidi pitches at the 2016 Prime Health Challenge.

It’s the highest funded pitch competition of its kind in the nation. Each year, dozens of digital health startups apply for it. Those selected spend the next several months being rigorously vetted by a variety of executives, clinicians, patients, academics, investors, and entrepreneurs.

The companies that make it through this process are then given the opportunity to pitch in front of a crowd of hundreds at the annual Prime Health Challenge. Their pitches are evaluated by representatives from national health insurers like Aetna, major health systems like Centura, and safety net institutions like Metro Community Provider Network (MCPN).

Winners of the Challenge are awarded a share of $150,000 in prize money provided by the Colorado Health Foundation. This money is intended to fund pilots with those payers and providers who have offered to partner with Challenge participants.

For many of these startups, the Prime Health Challenge represents a turning point in their development. We recently spoke with three finalists from the 2016 program to find out how the Challenge helped their companies grow.

A Brain for the EHR

Representatives from major payers and providers applaud the participants of the 2016 Prime Health Challenge.

“Every company that is successful almost dies,” said Dr. Akrum Al-Zubaidi, CEO of Matrix Analytics. “The Prime Health Challenge came at a point when our company almost died.”

Described by Dr. Al-Zubaidi as “a brain for the EHR,” Matrix Analytics uses machine learning and automation to streamline provider workflows and patient management. Its first product,  LungDirect, is a cloud-based solution designed to help clinicians manage pulmonary nodule and lung-cancer screening patients.

According to Dr. Al-Zubaidi, the Prime Health Challenge played a pivotal role in the growth of his company.

“It allowed us to really focus our message,” said Dr. Al-Zubaidi. “Then it gave us the exposure we needed to get to the point where we could build a sustainable business.”

At the 2016 Prime Health Challenge, Matrix Analytics received pilot offers from SCL Health and National Jewish Health. The company was awarded $50,000 by the Colorado Health Foundation to fund the pilots.

“The exposure helped us secure a deal with HealthONE, where all of their hospitals will be using our product,” said Dr. Al-Zubaidi. “The Cleveland Clinic also expanded us from their main campus to all of their sites.”

 “After the Prime Health Challenge, Mark Cuban invested in us.”

Better Tools for Nurses

dBMEDx CEO David Shine was awarded $75,000 by the Colorado Health Foundation at the 2016 Prime Health Challenge.

“Oftentimes the newest technologies aren’t necessarily directed at nurses,” said David Shine, CEO of dBMEDx. “It’s an area that’s ready for technologies that simplify their lives.”

According to Shine, dBMEDx builds technologies that allow providers to take more accurate measurements. Its flagship product, BBS Revolution, is a next-generation bladder scanner that quickly lets clinicians know whether or not a patient needs a catheter.

“Catheters can cause infections,” Shine explained. “If you can avoid putting a catheter in someone, the risk of getting an infection from that catheter drops to zero.”

As the first-place prize winner of the 2016 Prime Health Challenge, Shine was awarded $75,000 by the Colorado Health Foundation. The money funded pilots with Centura and SCL Health.

From Shine’s perspective, the clinical data produced by the SCL Health pilot was a game-changer for his company.

“Clinical data is so important for a startup,” said Shine. “Collecting it is usually quite hard, but because of the Challenge we were able to interface with these large entities quickly and easily.”

Since participating in the Prime Health Challenge, dBMEDx has completed its pilot with SCL Health, and is preparing to start clinical trials with Centura. The startup also recently gained a distribution partner in the elderly care industry that has allowed it to more than double its sales.

“The data from the SCL Health pilot showed the benefit of our product,” said Shine. “We’ve used it many times with our partners and salespeople, as well as to help nurses justify buying our technology.”

Early Identification of Risk for Teens

Preventative Technology Solutions Co-Founder Dr. Kathryn Lusczakoski pitches at the 2016 Prime Health Challenge.

“We create medical technology solutions that provide tailored risk assessments and prevention services,” said Dr. Lisa Rue, co-founder of Preventative Technology Solutions. “Our solutions target three big problem areas in adolescent health: sexual risk, mental health, and substance abuse.”

An audience favorite at the 2016 Prime Health Challenge, Preventative Technology Solutions specializes in the rapid and efficient assessment of at-risk youth. The company’s OPTIONS app consists of a survey regarding mental health, sexual behavior, and substance abuse risk that can be completed prior to an appointment. Once it’s filled out, the survey instantly creates a structured report for clinicians.

“We want to solve these problems that have been polarized traditionally,” said Dr. Rue. “We want to break down the silos and do some good work with digital health technology.”

According to Dr. Rue, the Prime Health Challenge helped her startup improve its pitch, its business plan, and its understanding of its customers. The introductions and connections that resulted from participating in the Challenge have been especially helpful for the company.

“It really was a launchpad for us,” Dr. Rue explained. “The Challenge launched us directly into an ecosystem that is rather vibrant and collaborative.”

Preventative Technology Solutions recently completed a pilot with UCHealth that examined physician and patient satisfaction with its app. The company also received an evaluation of OPTIONS from Denver Health, which it used to improve and further refine the product.

“Since we took the stage at the Prime Health Challenge, we have also decided to develop a license agreement with cliexa,” said Dr. Rue. “We realized that we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel and develop our own platform when cliexa had this wonderful platform available.”

The 2018 Prime Health Challenge will bring together business leaders and industry experts to evaluate early- to growth-stage companies oriented towards achieving the “Triple Aim” of enhanced patient experience, improved population health, and lower costs with a focus on underserved populations. If you are interested in participating as a judge, mentor, or host institution, please apply here.