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.

Prima-Temp Announces Partnership with Richter

Gedeon Richter Plc. (“Richter”) today announced that it has entered into an exclusive license and distribution agreement with Prima-Temp Inc. (“Prima-Temp”), a US, Colorado based company, to commercialize its innovative medical device, PriyaRing globally, except for the USA and Canada. PriyaRing is an internal sensor that identifies the subtle temperature changes that occur prior to ovulation. The above agreement was complemented by the acquisition of a minority stake in PrimaTemp for a consideration of US$ 5 million.

“We are delighted to have one of the premier women’s health organizations as our new partner” said Dr. Lauren Costantini, CEO of Prima-Temp. “Gedeon Richter is committed to leveraging their women’s health marketing and sales expertise to expand into the digital health space with our innovative wearable women’s health technology. This exciting strategic development will allow Prima-Temp to bring Priya to many more women in need as we commercialize our first innovative product.”

“This agreement further strengthens Richter’s presence in the area of female fertility, as PriyaRing empowers women to take control of their fertility and also brings 21st Century Thermometry to the market. I look forward to working with the Prima-Temp team to develop further highly innovative products in the field of Women’s Healthcare”, said Mr Erik Bogsch, Managing Director of Gedeon Richter Plc.

About PriyaRing:

PriyaRing is an ovulation predictor vaginal ring. The ring measures core temperature of a woman every 6 minutes and sends the data directly through wireless connection to a smart device every two hours. The data is sent to the cloud where it is stored and analyzed based on an proprietary Prima-Temp algorithm. The ring does not contain any active ingredient but a temperature measurement sensor. The device detects the subtle changes in temperature prior to ovulation and sends a notification to the smart device. This allows for easy handling, continuous data flow and an aid in conception.

About Gedeon Richter Plc.

Gedeon Richter Plc. (, headquartered in Budapest/Hungary, is a major pharmaceutical company in Central Eastern Europe, with an expanding direct presence in Western Europe, in China and in Latin America. Having reached a market capitalisation of EUR 3.7 billion (US$ 3.9 billion) by the end of 2016, Richter’s consolidated sales were approximately EUR 1.3 billion (US$ 1.4 billion) during the same year. The product portfolio of Richter covers many important therapeutic areas, including Women’s Healthcare, Central Nervous System, and Cardiovascular areas. Having the largest R&D unit in Central Eastern Europe, Richter’s original research activity focuses on CNS disorders. With its widely acknowledged steroid chemistry expertise, Richter is a significant player in the Women’s healthcare field worldwide. Richter is also active in biosimilar product development.

About Prima-Temp Inc.

Prima-Temp brings new, innovative approaches to many of today’s healthcare challenges through the application of 21st century thermometry. Prima-Temp’s continuous temperature sensors and associated software allow the most precise method to measure true core body temperature, with the potential to address a multitude of applications including the Priya personal fertility sensor, early disease detection, sleep disorders, drug therapy, weight control and exercise. For additional information, visit


Finalists Announced for the 2017 Prime Health Challenge

On October 19th, six startups will pitch their solutions to improve the healthcare industry for a chance to pilot their products with Colorado’s leading healthcare systems, payors, and provider networks.

Early this summer, healthcare innovators from around the country submitted applications to compete in the Prime Health Challenge, the country’s largest digital health pitch competition of its kind.  Over the past 3-months, experts from across the industry have evaluated the proposals through the Prime Health Qualify process and narrowed the list down to six finalists who will compete in the live, shark-tank style event at the Exdo Event Center in RiNo Denver.  Thanks to funding from The Colorado Health Foundation, winners will be rewarded with a share of the $150,000 prize and the opportunity to prove their solutions in real-life clinical settings.

The diverse group of companies is a testament to the immense need for innovation in the healthcare space.  From technologies that improve the quality of the patient-physician relationship to those that reduce the costs of integrating systems, each company is working to solve a unique pain point within the healthcare industry.

Over the past four years, the Prime Health Challenge has qualified over 140 companies and launched 15 pilots across the State.  This year’s finalists include:


AI Health, LLC

The post-acute care industry that supports the path from the hospital to home is fragmented, not well managed and delivers widely different results.  This fragmentation has created significant inefficiencies in the continuum of care.  AI Health has created GettingHome™, a unifying SaaS platform that offers the logistics support needed to manage patients between hospitals and post-acute care settings.


Cliexa platforms enable patients to track their chronic disease activity with scientifically-proven and clinically-validated scoring models, and assists clinicians in making more informed decisions about treatment plans, and enables providers to respond more quickly to new data so their patients will have fewer complications or side effects.


Listen.MD is focused on relieving providers of the burdensome tasks associated with data entry.   The company has created the first artificial intelligence based Digital Scribe™ that allows providers to focus on personal interactions with patients.  Listen.MD’s patent-pending artificial intelligence is similar to a medical scribe but faster and more cost effective.

Nymbl Science

Nymbl has developed a comprehensive system for measuring, tracking and, most importantly, improving balance. The company offers a range of balance tools for health providers, including fall risk assessments, digital balance evaluations and balance training interventions that can be used in a clinical setting or at home.


Redox provides health systems with a platform that acts as a single access point for all cloud-based applications, providing access controls and monitoring while eliminating integrations.  Through this, the company hopes to empowers innovation and ease the burden of EHR interoperability.

Ride Health

Ride Health’s mission is to improve access to care for vulnerable patients. By providing a solution to assist healthcare providers in coordinating transportation for patients who face barriers to care, Ride Health improves the patient and coordinator experience, reduces no-shows and delayed discharges, and avoids hospitalizations through improved access to care, engagement and compliance.

The Prime Health Challenge will be held October 19th at the EXDO Event Center in Denver, Colorado.  Get your tickets at

Physicians and Patients Love OPTIONS App

Physicians and Patients Love OPTIONS App
Preliminary Results from 2016 Prime Health Pilot

The third place finalist from the 2016 Prime Health Challenge, Preventative Technology Solutions, released interim results of their clinical pilot of the OPTIONS App. The pilot measured physician and patient experience and is ongoing through mid-October. Early results reported here are from a primary care pediatric department serving suburban populations.

Acknowledging the limitations of a pilot sample, CEO Scott Fowle stated,

“The pilot results document two critical metrics of improved physician and patient experience. While we know we have a long way to go, this is a positive first step assisting with health care reform efforts.”

Initial findings indicate that OPTIONS saves physician’s time, significantly improves counseling sessions with patients and patient’s enjoy completing the assessment in the app. For a copy of the executive summary of the report click here.

Physicians frequently skip or minimize conversations about sexual risk either because they don’t have time, or feel they can’t get honest feedback. One doctor described the problem this way,

“This is an awkward topic, especially for men and they avoid having these conversations.”

The OPTIONS App incorporates a more precise, evidence-based assessment of adolescent sexual risk supporting early identification of patients at highest risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease or experiencing an unplanned pregnancy.

The app is completed on a tablet before primary care appointments, creating a structured report with the proprietary algorithm. Maximizing critical conversations between patients and their physicians is a significant step necessary to reduce costs associated with STIs and unintended pregnancy.

“All of the physicians who participated in the pilot to date said they would recommend OPTIONS to their colleagues. This high level of confidence is helpful for a small digital health start-up like ours,” said Dr. Lisa Rue, Co-Founder.

More resources and clinic partners are needed to evaluate the other two aims of reduced cost and improved health outcomes. These longer-term outcomes are easier to assess with the soon to be released mHealth follow-up called MyPLAN. Patients who need follow-up can choose to complete it privately on their mobile phones with results reported back to their physicians. OPTIONS digital health technology opens up new revenue streams for clinics assisting with tracking and reporting on these longer-term metrics. Preventative Technology Solutions plans to expand to include a more holistic framework including mental health and substance use assessments each with tailored digital health follow-up.

The final report due in October involves more clinicians and a thorough formative evaluation from clinicians serving urban populations.

For more information contact: Dr. Lisa Rue at

A Letter from the CEO of Prime Health

2016 was a momentous year for Colorado’s Digital Health Ecosystem and Prime Health. Our community had significant growth and success. Prime tracked $162 million was invested last year in our Digital Health Innovation community. We evaluated and mentored over 100 ecosystem companies through our Qualify process. Participating companies raised over $40 million post evaluations. Through the Prime Health Challenge, we have committed over $430,000 to fund 15 pilot tests of health innovation products. We had the largest attendance ever at both the Health Innovation Summit and our Challenge. Every major healthcare delivery system in our state now has developed or is developing an innovation center in large part to work with our ecosystem.  With these metrics and others, I made the case at the Prime Health Challenge and in Blog posts that we are the #1 Health Innovation ecosystem in the United States today.

As many of you know, I have been part of the leadership of both Prime Health and 10.10.10, the impact venture generator. Both organizations have grown to now need full time engagement. After serious consideration, I have decided to resign my position as President and CEO of Prime Health effective February 28, 2017 to continue with 10.10.10 full time.

Prime Health’s Board of Directors is committed to enhancing our health innovation ecosystem and our process to rapidly demonstrate clinical efficacy and efficiency for new technology products and services matching needs and qualified technology solutions.

They have initiated a process to identify an interim CEO with the goal of filling the position as soon as practical. The Board seeks to hear from interested parties.  The Interim CEO position announcement has been posted here: In parallel, the board will evaluate if other or additional services should be developed and if greater alignment with other healthcare support organizations might enhance Prime’s role in the ecosystem. Through the process, the Board will determine the best viable long-term plan for Prime Health by either hiring a permanent leader or determining a better long term management solution by May 1st. I will continue to support this transition. If you have questions or suggestions please contact Mike Biselli,

I have appreciated the opportunity to be part of Prime Health’s success over the past 3 years it has been an honor.  I am proud of what we all have created, accomplished and enhanced together.  I believe our ecosystem is poised for greater impact through providing value added services.

The Colorado Office of eHealth and Innovation has asked me to co-chair a State of Colorado Health Innovation Strategic Plan process to drive additional activities to make Colorado the healthiest state nationally and be the #1 health innovation ecosystem.  You will be hearing more about the process over the next few weeks.  We intend to convene our Prime Health Summit in April for the purpose of bringing our community together with the State of Colorado in a public private partnership to discuss how we might develop our plans going forward.  Stay tuned for more information. I look forward to seeing you at the Summit or at our Prime Health monthly meetings. Thank you for all of your engagement and support.
Jeffrey Nathanson


Third Annual Prime Health Challenge Brings New Health Innovations Closer to Reality

$150,000 will be Awarded to “Shark-Tank” Style Competition Winners


On Oct. 19, six top healthcare innovations will compete for $150,000 and the opportunity to test their products with 15 leading healthcare organizations during one of the largest pitch competitions of its kind in the nation.

Prime Health, Colorado’s health innovation ecosystem, will convene over 500 attendees, including investors, entrepreneurs and executives from local community and national health organizations, to watch the “shark-tank” style competition on Oct. 19 at EXDO Event Center in Denver. In its first two years, the Prime Health Challenge has resulted in 12 pilot testing programs of health innovations and over $1 million has been invested in participating companies.

The Colorado Health Foundation funded the inaugural 2014 and 2015 Challenges, and is supporting the Prime Health Challenge for a third year as part of the organization’s efforts to invest in resources and create partnerships that will increase opportunities to improve the health of Coloradans.

“The Foundation is excited to support another year of the Prime Health Challenge and it’s work to bring cutting-edge health innovations into our state,” said Amy Latham, vice president of philanthropy at the Colorado Health Foundation. “This event, the partnerships fostered and results of pilot testing will help us to achieve our mission of improving health for Coloradans by increasing access to quality healthcare.”

Three of last year’s winners have already completed their pilots and are boasting exciting results. EMS Relay is speeding up registration in the ER so that patients can be seen faster. Test Appropriate has determined that cardiac test ordering can be improved in order to save on costs, and Radish Systems has discovered a big value-add by incorporating “Voice with Visuals” for phone and chat health coaching.

The 2016 finalists were selected from 30 initial contestants using Prime Health Qualify, an online evaluation tool designed specifically to assess health innovations. The contestants also received two months of mentoring and pitch coaching.

“The Challenge is the largest collection of healthcare organizations considering hosting pilot tests of health innovation products anywhere in the country. Our Prime Health Qualify process assures these innovations have been assessed and curated as the top companies and products. The Challenge is our galvanizing annual event. It brings together all stakeholders to quicken the pace of adopting new innovations. Every sector of healthcare is represented with our host institutions. We believe this is a key indicator we are building the leading health innovation ecosystem in the nation here in Colorado,” said Jeffrey Nathanson, chief executive officer of Prime Health.

The healthcare organizations participating in the 2016 Challenge include large hospital and healthcare systems such as HCA/HealthONE, National Jewish Health, Kaiser Permanente, Centura Health, Denver Health and SCL Health as well as community health organizations such as Northwest Colorado Health and Doctors Care (see complete list here).

The six competing companies include Clinical Trial Site SolutionsdBMEDxMatrix AnalyticsMedical Simulation CorporationPreventative Technology Solutions and Quantant Technology.

The 2016 Prime Health Challenge is funded by the Colorado Health Foundation and the following sponsors: DaVita, Medical Group Management Association, Twentyseven Global, Physician Health Partners, Colorado Community Health Alliance, CGI, Garlic Media Group, Colorado Technology Association, Catalyst HTI, Anabliss and Valid Eval.

Prime Health Welcomes Startup Health into the Colorado Health Innovation Ecosystem

On Monday, Startup Health announced that it was opening its second regional affiliate, Startup Health Colorado, in partnership with Children’s Hospital Colorado, CU Anschutz, and UCHealth. The offices of the new affiliate will be located on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, where Startup Health Colorado will work with its partners to develop and launch at least 30 health-tech startups.

At Prime Health, we have admired Startup Health since the founding of our organization. Over the past few years, I’ve personally attended several Startup Health events, and have had the opportunity to speak with Steve Krein, the CEO of Startup Health, on many occasions.

In fact, when Prime Health was exploring how to become a standalone organization, we studied the Startup Health model of innovation acceleration. We were eager to see if that model was something Prime Health should emulate.

However, it quickly became clear that with Colorado home to organizations like TechStars, House of Genius, and the Unreasonable Institute, accelerating innovation wasn’t going to be a challenge for our ecosystem. So, to provide Colorado’s health-tech startups with a competitive edge, we decided to help them overcome a major hurdle to the adoption of innovation within the healthcare system: the demonstration of clinical efficacy.

This decision led to the creation of the annual Prime Health Challenge, a three-month-long process in which clinicians, executives, technologists, and other relevant stakeholders come together to evaluate the health-tech startups in our ecosystem. Using Prime Health Qualify, our online evaluation platform, these judges assess the companies that have applied for the challenge, searching for innovations that are ready to be integrated into the healthcare system.

This evaluation process is part of our Value Integrator Model (VIM). Over the last four years, it has enabled the startups in our ecosystem to secure pilot opportunities, forge new partnerships, and obtain millions of dollars in funding. It has also distinguished us as a digital health organization, granting Prime Health a unique position within the health innovation value chain, while allowing us to collaborate with the generators, incubators, and accelerators in our ecosystem.

Startup Health is no exception. Last year, Florida Hospital asked that we send nine of Prime Health’s qualified companies to participate in their National Council of Presidents Innovation Challenge. Startup Health was also asked to send nine companies from its portfolio. For the duration of the challenge, our startups shared the stage with Startup Health’s, each doing their best to drive the adoption of innovation in one of the nation’s largest healthcare systems.

Additionally, two of the finalists from previous Prime Health Challenges, RxRevu and Test Appropriate, have joined Startup Health’s portfolio. As members of Startup Health, they will gain access to an international accelerator network, similar to TechStars, which will significantly help them in their mission to transform healthcare through innovation. It is my hope that a similar opportunity will be extended to this year’s finalists, just as a I hope that Startup Health’s portfolio will apply to future Prime Health Challenges.

With the launch of Startup Health Colorado, we foresee our collaborations with Startup Health increasing. Just like the addition of 10.10.10 Health, the Boomtown Health-Tech Accelerator, and Innosphere’s digital-health incubator program only strengthened our regional health-tech cluster, we believe that Startup Health Colorado will bring a range of new assets to our state that will benefit everyone in the health innovation value chain.

As we continue to convene the members of our regional ecosystem, from payers and providers like Kaiser Permanente, Aetna, and HCA, to health innovation assets like Colorado Biosciences Association, Innovation Pavilion, and Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, it is my hope that Startup Health will join us. There is an urgent need for solutions to the healthcare system’s problems, and if we work together, I am certain we will be able to meet that need as quickly and as safely as possible.

So, on behalf of Prime Health, let me say, “Startup Health, welcome to Colorado!” We look forward to collaborating to make Colorado the leading health innovation ecosystem in the nation.

Jeffrey Nathanson
President & CEO
Prime Health

Announcing the Finalists of the 2016 Prime Health Challenge

On Monday night, the 14 companies participating in the semi-finals round of the 2016 Prime Health Challenge pitched their products before a panel of 25 judges. Each was given six minutes to present, followed by a four-minute question-and-answer session. By the end of the evening, six companies had been chosen to continue onto the finals round of this year’s Challenge.

Two weeks before this event, the founders of the 14 companies that had been selected as Challenge semi-finalists gathered at INDUSTRY for a speed-mentoring session. Over the course of the session, each founder met with a series of domain-area experts that included physicians, clinical researchers, and product development professionals.

These mentors offered the founders insights into how to improve several key components of their presentations, such as clinical requirements, IT integration, and study design. This mentoring session was intended to give the founders everything they needed to sharpen their pitches before Monday night.

But it was also part of a larger project.

At Prime Health, our focus is to become the number one health innovation ecosystem in the United States. To attain that ranking, we are benchmarking ourselves by more than just institutional capital invested in a geographic region.

We believe that the engagement of the healthcare system in the innovation process is vitally important if new products and services are to be quickly and safely integrated into clinical practice. For that reason, we have tried to recruit as many clinicians, executives, academics, administrators, and policy-makers as possible to serve as judges and mentors in the 2016 Prime Health Challenge.

By giving the members of the healthcare system a way to direct the course of innovation within their industry, we’re connecting the startups in our ecosystem with the insights they need to develop and iterate products that providers want to adopt. More than any other metric, we believe that engagement of this kind is the most accurate indicator of a thriving, dynamic, and productive health innovation ecosystem.

The finalists we chose on Monday night were all powerful examples of why this is the case.

The Finalists

Many of the startups in this year’s Challenge are led by entrepreneurs who are bringing new technologies into the healthcare industry. Throughout the 2016 Prime Health Challenge, these entrepreneurs have received advice on how to present the positive clinical impact of their innovations to healthcare providers.

After hearing the 14 semi-finalists pitch on Monday night, the 25 members of our health innovation ecosystem who had been chosen to judge them used Prime Health Qualify, our online evaluation platform, to identify which companies possessed the clearest understanding of their product, their market, and their pilot proposal. Those companies were:

Clinical Trial Site Solutions


Matrix Analytics

Medical Simulation Corporation

Preventative Technology Solutions

Quantant Technology

As finalists of the 2016 Prime Health Challenge, these six companies will have the opportunity to prepare for a “speed-dating” event on September 29th. At this event, the founders of each company will meet with representatives from major healthcare institutions who are interested in learning more about their products.

On October 19th, the finalists will compete on stage at the EXDO Event Center in Denver, Colorado. Before an audience of hundreds, they will try to convince the representatives who they met at the speed-dating event to pilot their products. The top performing companies at the event will win a share of the $150,000 in pilot funding that has been provided for the Challenge by the Colorado Health Foundation.

From the beginning of this year’s Challenge, our intention has been to accelerate the adoption of highly effective innovations within the healthcare industry. After comprehensive analysis and lengthy deliberation, our judges have chosen these six finalists as the companies best qualified to fulfill our ecosystem’s mission, the enhancement of the healthcare delivery system through innovation.

How well an ecosystem accomplishes this is the only metric that should matter.

Jeffrey Nathanson
President & CEO
Prime Health

How We Chose the Semi-Finalists of the 2016 Prime Health Challenge

Last week, something remarkable occurred. On the evening of Tuesday, August 23rd, 47 members of our health innovation ecosystem, including physicians, entrepreneurs, technologists, executives, administrators, and investors, gathered at INDUSTRY to judge the applicants of the 2016 Prime Health Challenge. It was the single largest gathering of judges in the Challenge’s three-year history.

Now, let me be clear. We did not hire these judges. They were volunteers. And while they came from different parts of the ecosystem – with some representing the payer organizations, and others representing the healthcare providers, and still others representing the innovation community – they had all agreed to be judges in this year’s Challenge for the same reason.

They understand that our healthcare system is in dire straits. They recognize that something needs to be done. And they believe that the process we’ve developed for evaluating health-tech startups can ensure that necessary innovations are integrated into the healthcare system sooner rather than later.

Before gathering on Tuesday, the judges spent a week evaluating the startups that had applied for the Challenge. We tasked each judge with the assessment of up to five companies, which we matched them to according to their areas of expertise. With the help of our online evaluation platform, Prime Health Qualify, the judges analyzed their startups according to several key metrics, including industry attractiveness, technology validation, and potential market size.

By Tuesday, the judges had all reached their own conclusions about the readiness of the startups to be integrated into the healthcare system. They had entered their evaluations into Prime Health Qualify, which had aggregated them, generating a composite score for each company. Importantly, the Prime Health Qualify platform had also identified areas of disagreement between the judges.

Those areas of disagreement became the focus of our discussion on Tuesday.

Objective, Repeatable, Scalable

We’ve known for years now that the digital transformation of the healthcare industry is going to be a slow process. Prime Health Qualify is an attempt to accelerate that process.

By enlisting the members of our health innovation ecosystem in the evaluation of new technologies, we’re developing as comprehensive an assessment as possible. By using our platform to then aggregate those evaluations, we’re trying to reach a level of accuracy and objectivity that an individual judge wouldn’t be able to achieve on their own.

And by giving our judges a chance to discuss areas where their assessments diverged, we’re ensuring that nothing is overlooked in our evaluations.

This last point is critical. Every insight our judges can bring to the evaluation of these companies matters, because what we’re doing has never been done before. Prime Health Qualify represents something entirely new to health innovation: a standardized, repeatable, and scalable means of evaluating new digital health technologies.

After two hours of discussion on Tuesday, we completed our first round of evaluations for the 2016 Prime Health Challenge. Of the more than forty companies that had applied, fifteen were chosen to advance to the semi-finals round. Those companies were:

Bear Systems
Doctor Speak
Lung Direct
Medical Simulation Corporation
Nymbl Science
Orderly Health
Preventative Technology Solutions
Quantant Technology
Sleep Shepherd
Symbia Allergy
TOMR2 Development

Though all of those who applied for the 2016 Prime Health Challenge will be able to use their evaluations to improve their presentations, this year’s semi-finalists will enjoy the added advantage of doing so within the Prime Health Qualify process.

They will be matched with mentors who will help them sharpen their pitches, demonstrate clinical efficacy, and refine their understanding of the healthcare market. Those who reach the finals round of the Prime Health Challenge will be able to meet with healthcare providers and payers interested in piloting their solutions. And they will have the chance to pitch their innovations to those providers and payers in front of an audience of hundreds on October 19th.

Most importantly, they will join the ranks of those companies that have already been evaluated using Prime Health Qualify. In the past two years, the companies we’ve assessed have collectively raised $34 million. We expect the startups in this year’s Challenge to experience the same benefits.

And it all begins with our judges.

Jeffrey Nathanson
President & CEO
Prime Health