Since 2018, Blue KC has partnered with the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) to offer the Healthcare Innovation Prize – a competition designed to promote creativity and innovation while encouraging the next generation of entrepreneurs to help drive the healthcare industry forward.
The annual contest seeks ventures that can improve the patient or member experience through care delivery innovation, digital health capabilities, tools, devices, apps or other advancements that positively impact the value proposition.
Of this year’s entries, two winning teams were selected – Speak IT and MiDoc.
First Place Winner, $15,000: Speak IT
Speak Information Technologies (Speak IT), a voice-enabled assistive technology, was the winner of the first-place prize. Michael Cafiero and Julian Lu – both students at Washington University in St. Louis – developed Speak IT. Currently, doctors and providers have the burden of charting patients, which could include thousands of clicks per day within a computerized system. As such, patients could suffer, as attention can be diverted during their interactions with providers. Speak IT automates mouse clicks within the electronic health record, not only optimizing provider-patient communication but also improving record keeping.
“Speak IT cuts down on the charting workload for providers, allowing them to save time and potentially see more patients. It benefits the patient because they get a better interaction with their doctor, who doesn’t have to be distracted on the computer, and it benefits the hospital because the insurance and billing information will be entered more accurately and thus will save them money on insurance claims,” explains Cafiero.
While Speak IT is positioned around mid-sized to enterprise scale hospitals and physician networks, there is the potential to expand into specialty surgery clinics and other medical operations. “Anywhere that utilizes an EHR (electronic health record), we have the potential to expand into,” notes Lu.
Cafiero and Lu plan to use the $15,000 prize money to hire two part-time software engineers to help expand the functionality of Speak IT and advance the product to its final stage.
Second Place Winner, $10,000: MiDoc
Dr. Linda X. Wu took home second place for her entry, MiDoc, a home medical device that taps into the third dimension of telehealth, the physical exam. The wearable vest includes sensors that listens to a patient’s heart and lungs and delivers a medical grade EKG.
“During the pandemic, I worked in the ER and witnessed many patients who either didn’t need to be there or who waited too long to come in,” Wu explains. “Utilizing MiDoc within telehealth will foster a more accurate, timely diagnosis that leads to better clinical decisions, reduced cost and less stress placed on the emergency room.”
Wu plans to use the $10,000 prize to complete her product design, ultimately allowing her to prove the concept to potential investors.
“The award process has been amazing. Everyone at UMKC has been so kind and responsive to our questions,” says Wu. “And all the judges at Blue KC have been wonderful, providing us with very valuable feedback so that we could improve our design and bring it further. One step closer to making the MiDoc dream a reality.”