Disruptive Tech Solving Healthcare’s Biggest Challenges; Who won The Challenge 2017?

For the opening event of Cleveland Clinic Medical Innovation Summit 2017, the crowd was packed with people passionate about healthcare and the IT that drives change – from clinicians and senior leaders to researchers, software developers, students, investors, IT and marketing experts.

Four entrepreneurial leaders presented 7-minute pitches and answered tough questions from a panel of six judges, all experts in identifying and investing in tomorrow’s cutting-edge health IT.

The four CEOs competed to win The Challenge, now in its fifth year of presenting dynamic, high-potential early stage companies. This year, Cleveland Clinic, HIMSS, and HealthXL joined forces to find companies best-positioned to push health IT to the next level.

The Challenge winner receives expert guidance from an esteemed team of clinical experts at Cleveland Clinic and exhibitor passes to Innovation Live at HIMSS18 in Las Vegas March 5-9, 2018.

Judge for Yourself: The Four Pitches

Wout Brusselaers, CEO of Deep6 AI

Clinical trials with human subjects are critical in testing whether a new treatment is safe and if it works. But finding patients is often a roadblock, with 86 percent of trials failing to recruit sufficient patients. Woot Brusselaers founded Deep 6 AI to solve the challenge of “too few people in clinical trials, resulting in lives lost and drugs not developed. We cannot cure cancer, but we can empower those who can.”

Using artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing, his company’s mission is to create “infinitely searchable” data to identify more patients for clinical trials exponentially faster and boost revenues from trial sponsors.

In a lung cancer study, Deep 6 AI challenged themselves to beat a clinical trial that took doctors six months to find 23 patients right for the trial. Deep 6 AI identified 58 patients in just eight minutes. They are now running pilots at nine sites and engaging physicians to sign up patients and working on hospital portal access for patients.

Bruce Ettinger, CEO of Frame Health

Patients who don’t understand or follow their provider’s treatment plan have resulted in the healthcare industry’s most expensive problem, one that the CDC says costs U.S. healthcare more than $900 billion per year. Frame Health developed a cloud-based software solution to help physicians analyze a patient’s personality traits and how likely they are to follow a care plan.

Capturing key data in a 7-minute personality test, Frame Health connects the findings to mobile messages tailored to the patient to improve compliance on everything from picking up prescriptions to following physician orders. CEO Bruce Ettinger says the goal is to have the technology “sitting in the Electronic Health Record” and extending out from there to other applications.

Powered by Hogan, “the world’s largest personality database,” Frame Health’s tag line is “We know patients because we know people.” They’ve completed paid deployments and pilots with Cedars-Sinai and Kaiser Permanente, and partnered with Wanda Health to improve patient care outcomes and lower costs. Frame Health raised $100k in first round investing.

Onri Shor, CEO of Medisafe

For patients with a serious illness or recovering from major surgery, the long list of medication and complex dosing can be overwhelming. More than 147,000 Americans take daily meds and 700,000 suffer from emergencies due to issues with their meds. Medisafe tackles the $300 billion challenge of medication non-adherence.

Medisafe CEO and co-founder Onri Shor started the company after his own father, a diabetic, died from a medication overdose. The cloud-based platform uses mobile devices to help patients, families and caregivers track and manage meds and improve results. Medisafe engages with both consumers and provider markets.

“We are the first to offer a personalized solution for medication management,” says Shor. “We use data to match the intervention to the person and the situation.” Medisafe cites significant adherence improvements in patients and provides custom-tailored solutions for pharma, payers and providers.

Elli Kaplan, CEO of Neurotrack

Ask anyone about Alzheimer’s disease and you’ll likely hear a personal story of how it touched a family member or friend. Alzheimer’s has become the greatest healthcare challenge of our generation, with 1 in 3 people affected by age 80 and $1.2 trillion in costs projected by 2050 with an aging world population. It’s a disease with zero easily accessible diagnostic tests to assess early risk – and zero drugs to prevent it.

In December 2004 Elli Kaplan’s son was born on the same night her grandmother with Alzheimer’s died in a hospital room just a few miles away. “It was this auspicious moment where these two souls were passing each other. I wanted to build something in healthcare and work on a really hard issue and there’s nothing harder than Alzheimer’s,” says Kaplan.

With two neuroscientists at Emory University, she formed Neurotrack, raised capital and moved to California to further develop a computer-based cognitive test identifying people at risk of Alzheimer's disease 3-6 years before symptoms appear. The test uses proprietary eye-tracking technology to detect signs of declining memory. Neurotrack then helps the user adopt lifestyle changes to keep memory sharp – diet, exercise, brain games, sleep and stress management.

Neurotrack aims to enable more cost-effective and well-powered clinical trials and eventually serve as an annual screening test for Alzheimer’s. Their online assessment is covered by some health insurance plans or consumers can make a $99 credit card payment. Neurotrack has partnered with clinicians, research universities including Harvard, Stanford and Brown, and raised $11.59 million in 4 rounds from six investors.

And the winner is…

Judges and audience both chose Elli Kaplan’s Neurotrack as the 2017 Challenge winner, with comments like “It addresses a huge problem…meets a big need… there aren’t tools out there like this.”

One of the judges, Emma Cartmell, is a HIMSS board member and leads her own venture capital firm investing in digital health and IT companies. She was most impressed by the massive economic impact of Alzheimer’s and exponential growth in the disease by 2050.

“It is something we need to start addressing today. Sadly, there’s no cure. Some medications work and some don’t. Trying to keep your brain healthy for as long as possible is the key,” says Cartmell. “I don’t know of any other companies that’ve made the progress that Elli’s has made in this space. That was exciting to me. I’m already brainstorming on delivery systems specializing in Alzheimer’s where I can introduce her and she can fulfill the potential of the market.”

Cartmell also pointed out Neurotrack technology can be applied to other neurological issues such as multiple sclerosis, autism, Parkinson’s, ADHD and others that are underrepresented and need attention.

The Challenge judging panel included:

John Brownstein, PhD, Chief Innovation Officer, Boston Children’s Hospital

Emma Cartmell, Founding Partner, Cartmell Venture Capital LLC

Alex de Winter, Director, Healthcare Ventures, GE Ventures

Alexander Grunewald, Global Head, Healthcare Innovation Investment Strategy, J&J

Amy Merlino, MD, Enterprise Chief Medical Information Officer, Cleveland Clinic

Kristin Milburn, Strategic Partnerships Head, Digital Acceleration Lab, Novartis