Note from Mike: I was at this event earlier this week. I’m really excited to see the amazing work these firms are doing to fight diabetes. I’ve talked before about the cost of treating chronic conditions. I’m amped about new tech that can help doctors and health plans like Blue Cross stop some of the tragic results of diabetes. These advances can save money and improve lives at the same time. Here’s more about the event and the winner.
The New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA) joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and Ochsner Health System to present Alertgy with $36,000 on Tuesday as part of the inaugural New Orleans Health Innovators Challenge. Alertgy will now work within the New Orleans medical community to further develop its solution – a wearable, noninvasive, real-time blood glucose monitoring and alert system that works with a smartphone application.
“This is an incredible endorsement and validation that the need I’ve been telling people about is a valid need,” said Alertgy President Marc Rippen, who founded the company in Melbourne, Fla. “Working with Blue Cross and Ochsner will help us move the company forward and get this product tested and out to market as soon as possible. This is the kind of traction that makes a difference.”
Diabetes is among the leading causes of death in Louisiana, inspiring Blue Cross and Ochsner to look for true innovations in determining three finalists and the eventual winner. In 2000, 6.6 percent of Louisiana adults had diabetes, which rose to 11.6 percent by 2013, according to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
“As a national and global healthcare destination, Ochsner continues to transform care and deliver innovative new ways to address chronic disease, like diabetes that create value and improve health,” said Aimee Quirk, CEO, innovationOchsner. “We are proud to partner with Blue Cross who shares the same vision in supporting entrepreneurship to drive positive change in the healthcare industry. We also applaud all of the finalists for bringing forward-thinking solutions that can make a difference for our patients and the community.”
The other two finalists were Bonbouton (New York, N.Y.) and DIASYST (Atlanta). They were chosen from a pool of national applicants by an elite group of judges and online crowd voting.
“Blue Cross was eager to partner with Ochsner on this challenge because we both recognize that digital technology and innovation will be critical to changing the way healthcare is delivered in our state,” said Dr. Vindell Washington, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana chief medical officer. “We’re very encouraged by the solutions we’ve found through NOLAHI, and we thank New Orleans Business Alliance for the opportunity to seek new ways of engaging patients with diabetes and help them stay on top of their care.”
NOLABA also revealed the winners of two other NOLAHI challenges during a fireside chat on Tuesday. Medspace (San Diego, Calif.) won the Navigator Challenge by Tulane Health System, which sought digital solutions for patient navigation without adding full-time employees. SimplyVital Health (Bloomfield, Conn.) won the Interoperability Challenge by Lafayette General Foundation, which focused on finding innovative solutions to improve access to healthcare data through blockchain.
“Congratulations to Alertgy and all the NOLAHI finalists,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., NOLABA President & CEO. “Launching NOLAHI was a great experience partnering with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, Ochsner Health System and other healthcare delivery partners to connect the New Orleans region to digital health innovations that enhance treatment of diabetes, among other challenges facing healthcare providers and payers. Economic development matters because it transforms people’s lives, and today’s NOLAHI represents another step forward in our collective efforts to change lives through a growing, diversified economy. We look forward to engaging with Alertgy to create more economic benefits for the New Orleans region over the coming weeks and months.”
NOLAHI, a groundbreaking initiative to connect the city’s leading healthcare stakeholders with the best high-growth startups in the nation, helped kick off the 10th annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week at The Shop at the Contemporary Arts Center. In addition to winning the cash prize and pilot opportunity, Alertgy also wins free co-working space to launch its company presence in New Orleans, along with legal and consulting services.