The Independence Blue Cross Game Changers Challenge
is now accepting applications, and the window to enter closes on July 10. The idea is to link the muscle and financial power of big health care with the energy of startups in an effort to drive change.
"This is a huge opportunity," says Tom Olenzak, who, as a full-time consultant, is helping to run the Game Changers Challenge, which draws on the partnership of IBX, Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs, the Department of Public Health of the City of Philadelphia, Venturef0rth, and ?What If! Innovation Partners.
Applicants have until July to submit proposals aimed at improving the overall health and wellness of the Greater Philadelphia region. New companies, applications, technology, products, programs, and services that promote health and wellness are all welcome to enter. The prize is $50,000 for up to three winners, who will be notified by the end of July.
"Health care legislation has forced people to think about change," says Olenzak. "We've been stuck in an employer based sales model."
While most individuals consider themselves insured by a particular company, insurers are actually built on a B2B model, selling to employers, not employees. That's why customer service at an insurer can be quite frustrating. It's not a detail most people consider while on hold trying to get information about a claim.
Making change in healthcare is daunting, even to a seasoned professional like Olenzak, who's been in healthcare IT for 20 years, and reports that innovation in healthcare has always been the next big market.
Olenzak sees the regulatory process as a barrier to innovation. "There's been a ton of innovation on the care side," but not on the business side, adds Olenzak. "The challenge in health care is that open and transparent transactions are almost unheard of."
With an economy that continues to struggle, and cuts in reimbursement, Olenzak says healthcare focused acclerators are on the rise around the country, and points to Blueprint Health in New York, Rock Health in San Francisco, and Chicago Health Tech.
Here in Philadelphia, Venturef0rth hosted the first ever Startup Weekend Health at the beginning of this month, and there are plans in the works for a Philadelphia based health care accelerator, details of which cannot yet be disclosed.
"Once you start pulling on one thread, you find it's attached to 16 more," says Olenzak of the complicated field of health care innovation. "We're at a stage where we need a larger platform like an insurer or a health system to get involved to make a difference."
Source: Tom Olenzak, IBX Game Changers Challenge
Writer: Sue Spolan
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