Harvard Announces Finalists In Its Inaugural Health Acceleration Challenge


Harvard University has announced four finalists in its inaugural Health Acceleration Challenge. The challenge was organized by the Forum on Health Care Innovation, a collaboration between Harvard Business School and Harvard Medical School. The challenge called on digital health entrepreneurs, regardless of whether they ever attended Harvard, from anywhere in the world to nominate startups that had already developed and implemented their solutions in at least one health care organization. Specifically, judges were looking for “proven ideas that, if more broadly disseminated, could move the needle on cost, quality or access.”

Applications were accepted through September 29. In total, 478 startups entered the contest. From September 29 through October 20, each startup’s idea was opened up to public comments and questions. At the end of this period, judges created a short list of startups that they then engaged in more serious discussions. Short-listed startups were asked to show evidence of their solutions ability to improve outcomes, or curb costs. Startups were also expected to brief judges on their scale-up plan.

On November 20, the judges had whittled their initial pool of 478 applicants down to four startups with proven solutions and a sound scale-up plan. The four finalists are:

Bloodbuy, a Dallas, Tx-based startup that was developed at the Texas Medical Center in Houston. The company’s solution helps streamline logistics and inventory management of blood products for both hospitals and local blood centers.

I-Pass, is a startup focused on implementing handoff communications tools that it says can improve medical errors by 23 percent and preventable adverse events by 30 percent. The team’s work was the subject of a 2013 study published in JAMA, which involved a nine-site three-year pilot program.

Medalogix, a Nashville, TN-based startup building an analytics and patient record search platform to help care providers identify near end-of-life patients that would qualify for hospice services, and then takes ownership of the administrative tasks associated with transferring care responsibilities to a local hospice agency. After using Medalogix for six months, a home care and hospice agency in Atlanta large increased their hospice eligibility identification by 62%.

Twine Health, a Cambridge, MA-based startup, is building a patient engagement platform that it hopes will help reduce the $1.65 trillion the US spends on chronic disease management every year. The platform pairs patients with coaches who work together to create disease-specific goals and care plans.

The four companies will split a $150,000 cash prize for being selected as finalists. The money is intended to help them scale their ideas up. What will likely be far more valuable to the companies though, is that each will have a case study written about them by Harvard Business Review. The case study will attempt to clearly and effectively outline the service they are providing, and the potential impact they might have for prospects. Each company will also be invited to present at the 2014 Forum on Health Care Innovation.

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