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JHF Healthcare Safety Challenge Funds Patient Safety Tech Startups with $60,000

Dr. Arup Roy-Burman, Founder & CEO of first prize winner Elemeno Health

To advance the most promising healthcare safety solutions from around the world, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) funded and conceived the JHF Healthcare Safety Challenge with partner Innovation Works (IW). On April 27th, the challenge culminated in a live finale, with the five finalists competing live for $60,000 in cash prizes.

The 4-month competition launched at the beginning of January received over 125 submissions from 15 countries around the world, showcasing innovative healthcare safety solutions against the backdrop of the world's largest healthcare crisis in a century. Technology innovators at Elemeno Health from Oakland, California won first place receiving $25,000, with Medsix from Boston, Massachusetts and READE.ai from Pittsburgh taking second ($7,500) and third ($2,500) respectively.

A natural and complimentary next step after JHF's health innovation initiative Liftoff PGH 2020, the JHF Healthcare Safety Challenge combined JHF's and IW's expertise in seeking out and supporting the next generation of health innovators, modeled after JHF's Liftoff PGH Ideathon pitch competition and IW and AlphaLab Gear's International Hardware Cup. In a winning combination, the JHF Healthcare Safety Challenge sought to apply the power of technology--whether software, hardware, life sciences or some combination of multiple technologies--to uncover new ideas and address the pressing need for patient safety solutions in the U.S. health system. COVID-19 has made this need especially apparent: a recent report from Press Ganey suggests hospital safety has decreased throughout the pandemic. Healthcare systems have not implemented available solutions at scale – but the JHF Healthcare Safety Challenge participants demonstrated the great potential to apply technological safety advances from other industries to the medical setting.

The five finalists, also including ResTec Solutions from Pittsburgh and Vuetech Health Innovations from Charlottesville, Virginia, pitched their patient safety innovations to a panel of five expert judges: David Motley, Managing Partner, BlueTree Venture Fund; Mary Beth Navarra-Sirio, Senior Vice President Product Management, ConnectiveRX; Ven Raju, Vice President, Technology Ventures, Northwell Holdings and Ventures; Ken Segel, CEO & Managing Director, Value Capture, LLC; and Dr. Karen Wolk Feinstein, President & CEO, Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

"Each of our finalists crossed industry boundaries to apply the potential of technology to advance healthcare safety. We need this kind of bold thinking to address the persistent problem of medical error," said Karen Wolk Feinstein. "We're also working in our Full Court Press initiative on the establishment of a single federal agency solely focused on patient and worker safety to make the steady progress that the National Transportation Safety Board does for its industry. NTSB brings technology solutions and innovations to scale, preventing errors before they happen."

Using a cloud-based solution, Elemeno Health has developed a customized microlearning 24/7 service to provide frontline healthcare teams with immediate point of care training and communication so they can provide safer care at the bedside or in practice precisely when needed. "Our solution gets hospital-specific best practice information into the hands of frontline teams and clinicians at the point of care, when and where it is needed most," said Dr. Arup Roy-Burman, Founder & CEO. "We've seen our easy-to-use bite-sized guides reduce errors, increase efficiency, and reduce staff burnout. Integrating our on-demand support directly into the average workday equips frontline caregivers to deliver the best care possible to every life they touch."

Medsix is building novel sensors for surgical drain monitoring including a software dashboard with predictive analytics for improved patient outcomes after surgery. The device and software can be used both in and out of the hospital to address the needs of patients and providers alike, saving lives and money. READE.ai has developed innovative machine learning software to detect and alert a surgical team of stroke during surgery. ResTec Solutions applies disinfection technologies in healthcare settings much as automatic dishwashers do for dishes. Vuetech Health Innovations employs real-time predictive technology and monitoring to anticipate the risk of falling in hospitals, allowing immediate intervention.

"We see every day how important it is to have new, creative solutions to boost healthcare safety and avoid preventable errors," said Rich Lunak, president and CEO of Innovation Works. "Our criteria throughout the competition has been to seek out the novel technologies that are the most likely to be adopted and have the greatest impact on patient safety. We are looking forward to seeing many of these innovations applied in healthcare settings to improve patient outcomes - a goal that we've learned is difficult to achieve but incredibly necessary."

In addition to the five finalists, the JHF Healthcare Safety Challenge also recognized five kicker prize winners. The kicker prize winners received $5,000 each and were selected based on the potential to apply their technology to health safety. The kicker prize winners include Advanced Robotics Corp from Pasadena, California; Augment Health from Atlanta, Georgia; Hubly Surgical, Inc. from San Francisco, California; Lumis Corp from Pittsburgh; and OxiWear from Arlington, Virginia.

The Pitch Competition was preceded by an April 20 panel with patient safety leaders, who discussed some of the leading innovations to address medical error. Panelists included Dr. Hardeep Singh, Chief, Health Policy, Quality & Informatics Program, Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center; Dr. Gidi Stein, Co-Founder and CEO at MedAware; and Dr. Patricia Dykes, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Program Director Research, Center for Patient Safety, Research, and Practice at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Top ideas include using artificial intelligence to prevent medication errors, building algorithms in electronic health records to identify and predict adverse events, and creating clinical decision toolkits for preventing falls. 

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