20 Nov 2014
Finalists Announced in Harvard Business School-Harvard Medical School Health Acceleration Challenge

BOSTON—The Forum on Health Care Innovation, a collaboration between Harvard Business School (HBS) and Harvard Medical School (HMS), announced today the four finalists in its Health Acceleration Challenge, which focuses on taking compelling, already-implemented health care solutions and helping them to grow and increase their impact through powerful networking and funding opportunities.

Bloodbuy, I-PASS, Medalogix and Twine Health emerged as finalists from a group of nearly 500 applicants from 29 countries and 43 states (meet the finalists here). They will share $150,000 in prize money now, with an additional $50,000 going to the eventual winner, who will be named a year from now, after the four finalists have pursued their dissemination plans. All of them will give presentations at an invitation-only conference of senior industry leaders and experts to be held next April on the Harvard Business School campus in Boston, and they will also become the subject of an HBS case study.

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The funding for the Health Acceleration Challenge was provided by a generous gift from Howard E. Cox, Jr. (MBA 1969), a former general partner and now advisory partner in one of the country’s first and most successful venture capital firms, Greylock Partners, and a member of both the HBS Healthcare Initiative Advisory Board and the HMS Board of Fellows. During his long and distinguished career, Cox has been involved in the funding and development of many successful healthcare ventures.

At the Challenge’s launch last August, applicants were given five guiding directives: improve quality of care, lower care delivery costs, and expand access to care, while demonstrating real value and the ability to scale to create broader impact. The ensuing applications represented 25 different health care categories, with practice management solutions (22%), personal/consumer health tools (13%), and illness diagnosis/prevention (12%) representing the largest categories.

Each application was reviewed by at least four of the Challenge’s more than 40 judges, comprising senior medical and business professionals. In addition, the Challenge was staged on an Open Forum platform that hosted more than 20,000 website visits. The Forum, operated by the HBS Digital Initiative and designed to foster collaborative online communities focused on solving vexing social problems, functioned as a virtual laboratory for contestants to vet and refine their entries in real time. As a reward for their participation, ten individuals who provided a considerable amount of thoughtful commentary will be invited to the April forum.

“Health care delivery often suffers from extreme fragmentation and localization. This Challenge is a step in trying to change that,” said Cara Sterling, Director of the HBS Health Care Initiative. “It’s exciting to see innovations dealing with all different parts of the health care value chain. These ideas, and many others we received, have the potential to make a great impact on the U.S. health care system if scaled up in a dramatic way.”

The HBS-HMS Forum on Health Care Innovation is led by a steering committee composed of Sterling as well as MBA Class of 1961 Professor of Management Practice Richard G. Hamermesh and Albert J. Weatherhead III Professor of Business Administration Robert S. Huckman, all from Harvard Business School, and from Harvard Medical School, Dr. Barbara J. McNeil, Ridley Watts Professor and founding head of the Department of Health Care Policy, and Joseph P. Newhouse, John D. MacArthur Professor of Health Policy and Management.

About the Finalists:

Bloodbuy notes that blood is a core commodity of health care. For this reason, the Dallas-based company built a cloud-based platform that addresses the uneven geographic distribution of available blood supply in real time, enabling price transparency and greater efficiency in a critical health care market.

“We’re truly honored to be a finalist in the Harvard Health Acceleration Challenge,” said founder Chris Godfrey. “It serves as a tremendous point of validation for both our technology and our mission. To be among the four finalists is an accomplishment we are very proud of.”

I-PASS, based in Boston Children’s Hospital, uses a multifaceted approach to improve the exchange of information among health care providers by standardizing the patient hand-off process at every change of shift. It has already yielded a 30% reduction in medical errors resulting from patient transfer. The enterprise is led by the I-Pass Executive Council, a group of six individuals from a number of hospitals across the country, including Boston Children’s/Harvard Medical School, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children/Drexel University College of Medicine, and the Benioff Children’s Hospital/University of California San Francisco.

The company’s lead executive, Dr. Christopher P. Landrigan in Boston, noted that “Being a finalist means we will be able to support the necessary infrastructure to develop a dissemination strategy and tap into the expertise of the Harvard Business School in doing so.”

Medalogix's goal is to help provide better quality of life at the end of a patient’s life. The Nashville-based company does this by leveraging predictive analytics to identify patients that are eligible for hospice and then implementing a workflow that allows clinicians to help patients better manage the hospice decision and transfer process, minimizing associated difficulties and costs for all those involved.

"The Challenge’s focus on discussion and idea-building was unique and valuable,” founder Dan Hogan said. “The inclusion of Medalogix among the group represented in the Challenge has been undeniably humbling. After working with our heads down for years, this has been one of the first times that we, as a group, have taken time to realize the work we’re doing is having the impact on patients we hoped it would.”

Twine Health, based in Cambridge, MA, is a collaborative care app that allows patients and their doctors to co-create treatment plans for chronic disease, including access to motivational coaches and virtual support. The app’s efficacy has been proved over six years of research at the MIT Media Lab and is currently demonstrating markedly improved outcomes at one-third the cost of regular treatments.

"The field of digital health can be filled with buzzwords and noise,” said Dr. John Moore, Twine cofounder and CEO. “The Acceleration Challenge aims to cut through this noise and provide a megaphone for validated solutions that improve outcomes and cut costs. Twine Health is extremely excited about how being a finalist will propel our collaborative care platform to its next level of scale so that it can impact many more lives."


Christian Camerota

Jim Aisner