DENVER, Colo. – During the 2016 Prime Health Challenge on Oct. 19th, the founders of six digital health startups pitched their technologies to representatives from 15 major healthcare organizations, including Centura Health, Kaiser Permanente, and HCA. Standing before an audience of hundreds, each entrepreneur attempted to convince the gathered payers and providers to pilot their innovation.
“We have six finalists who will be presenting in a pre-selected, random order,” Leah Brash, Prime Health’s chief development officer, explained at the start of the event. “These finalists will be telling you about their companies, the problems they’re trying to solve, and the products they’ve created to solve those problems.”
The six finalists that pitched on Wednesday had been chosen from among the 30 health-tech startups that had applied for the Challenge through the use of a comprehensive selection process known as Prime Health Qualify. Enlisting the expertise of dozens of clinicians, executives, investors, and technologists, Prime Health Qualify rigorously assesses digital health startups in search of innovations that are ready to be adopted within the healthcare system.
“Our organization serves as a health innovation integrator,” Jeffrey Nathanson, the president and CEO of Prime Health, told the audience. “We regularly convene our ecosystem to discover the needs of its members, and then we work with them to rapidly identify and qualify new technologies that meet those needs.”
Assessing Sexual Risk
The first startup to present was Preventative Technology Solutions, the maker of a smartphone app designed to help clinicians identify adolescent patients who are engaging in high-risk sexual behaviors. According to Dr. Kathryn Lusczakoski, the company’s co-founder, studies have shown that teens are more inclined to respond honestly to questions about their sexual behavior when those questions are delivered through a smartphone app.
“We could identify 30-50% more high-risk youth in a primary care setting by doing better, more tailored assessments,” Dr. Lusczakoski said as she described the app’s benefits. “We could reduce the 106 STDs and teen pregnancies that appear on average in a clinic each year.”
Denver Health offered to pilot the startup’s sexual risk assessment technology. At the end of the pitch competition, Preventative Technology Solutions received $25,000 from the Colorado Health Foundation to fund the pilot.
Tracking Lung Cancer
“I’m an interventional pulmonologist, and by the time most pulmonary nodule patients get to me, it’s too late,” admitted Dr. Akrum Al-Zubaidi, the founder of Matrix Analytics. “The truth is that if you’re diagnosed with lung cancer, five years later you’re probably dead. But it doesn’t have to be this way.”
Alongside his team, Dr. Al-Zubaidi has developed Lung Direct, a digital health platform that allows clinicians to track lung cancer patients throughout the healthcare system. (The Cleveland Clinic is already using Lung Direct to monitor the progress of 5,000 patients as part of a 20-month pilot of the platform.)
In partnership with National Jewish, SCL Health offered to pilot Lung Direct. Matrix Analytics received $50,000 from the Colorado Health Foundation to fund the pilot.
Sharing Medical Images
“Hospitals rely on efficient image sharing to provide the best patient care and maintain operational efficiency,” said Chris Lee of Quantant Technology. “The problem is that medical image sharing between hospitals is a mess.”
According to Lee, with most cloud-based image sharing solutions difficult to integrate into clinical workflows, many physicians are still using CDs to store their medical images. His company’s technology, Quantant Share, resolves this issue by providing clinicians with a HIPAA-compliant image viewer that allows them to quickly, easily, and securely share images with healthcare providers anywhere.
Doctors Care, a Littleton-based safety-net clinic, offered to pilot Quantant Share.
Improving Sepsis Treatment
“About a year ago, a forty-year old attorney and mother of two was gardening and scraped her hand,” said Mike McCall of Medical Simulation Corporation (MSC). “A couple of days later, she visited her primary care doctor with shoulder pain. He diagnosed her with a pinched nerve, prescribed anti-depressants and sent her home. Three days later she came back. Her arm was swollen and she couldn’t move her fingers. She was diagnosed with sepsis and admitted to the emergency department, where she died.”
According to McCall, sepsis is the most common condition in US hospitals and the number one cause of readmissions. Through a combination of data analytics, performance improvement measures, and technology-enabled clinical training, MSC’s Integrated Sepsis Management Solution seeks to reduce the incidence of sepsis by teaching healthcare professionals how to work together to prevent it.
Enhancing Bladder Scans
“Roughly 25% of patients that go into hospitals will at some point have a catheter placed in them,” said David Shine, the co-founder of dBMEDx. “These catheters have a 5% daily risk of infection. The longer a catheter remains in you or your loved one, the greater the risk it will get infected.”
While a 2010 study concluded that regular bladder scans can reduce the chance of infection by 75%, most bladder scanners are complex and difficult to use. To solve this problem, dBMEDx has developed a bladder scanner that is simpler, faster, and more affordable than its competitors.
Both Centura Health and SCL Health offered to pilot the technology. dBMEDx received $75,000 from the Colorado Health Foundation to fund the pilot.
Streamlining Patient Education
After a procedure, patients are often overwhelmed by the amount of information they have to remember. Clinical Trial Site Solutions created IDR, a patient engagement app that organizes this information in a convenient and easy to understand care plan, to empower patients to take control of their care.
“We asked patients, ‘How would you like to have the information presented to you,” explained John Hibben, the founder of Clinical Trial Site Solutions. “I would like it to come in a concise format,’ they told us. ‘I would like to carry it on my phone.’ So we created a mobile app.”
Health One and Swedish Medical Center offered to jointly pilot the technology.