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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