Eight teams were selected as finalists at the inaugural Digital Health Pitch Competition hosted by The Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health and the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship. The 2022 competition was held remotely. A panel of six accomplished judges bringing high-level industry, research, medicine and engineering experiences to the competition determined the first, second and third place winners. Audience members were also able to vote on the “audience favorite” award.
Interdisciplinary teams made up of digital health entrepreneurs and researchers competed for the chance to win the top prize of $20,000 and ongoing mentorship, and the audience favorite prize of $5,000. Each team was given 5 minutes to pitch their idea and 4 minutes to answer questions from the judges. Teams were also asked to address some of the audience questions. The Question and Answer section of the competition introduced other interesting ideas to the consideration of entrepreneurs and their ventures. Proposed solutions ranged from an online-based intervention to manage stigma for people with epilepsy, a software to facilitate the analysis of sleep data, a chatbot for parental genetic screening, as well as machine learning and artificial intelligence powered platforms to detect adverse outcomes like postpartum hemorrhaging and heart disease. Teams received insightful feedback on how best to continue to grow and improve their companies and ideas. The judges’ feedback was unique and engaging; it was conceptually accessible whilst allowing for some challenging experimentation and commentary.
The winning venture, called Docs for Health, presented by the Rhode Island-based primary care physician Rahul Vanjani, MD, is a digital health platform that empowers healthcare providers to proactively address patient social risk factors to improve overall health outcomes and provide appropriate support. In addition to the $20,000 funding, Vanjani will receive ongoing mentoring support to help scale up his idea. Vanjani expressed surprise and gratitude and praised the creativity of the other seven digital health ideas.
The audience chose a venture called Formly, which allows underserved patients to take control of chronic pain and rehabilitation journeys by connecting them with physical therapists who asynchronously review recorded videos of their movements and provide personalized instruction.
What was instantly noticeable as we heard the judges, teams and audience discuss the proposed solutions was the hugely engaging and thought-provoking nature of the competition. CDH’s leadership intends for the competition to become an annual event that supports the best healthcare innovators and startups with digital solutions serving communities that need it the most and ultimately creating a better health experience for all people. Congratulations to Docs for Health and Formly!