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California-based MedAux wins the New Orleans Health Innovators Challenge

Elnaz Sarabchian Quentin Messer Richard Milani Vendell WashingtonThe New Orleans Business Alliance, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and Ochsner Health System celebrates MedAux as the winner of the 2019 New Orleans Health Innovators Challenge for its solution to the Social Determinants Data Challenge. The March 27 pitch contest was among the featured events during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.

National Competition for Digital Health Innovations in New Orleans Market

Designed to form partnerships, increase investments and encourage high-growth start-ups to locate in New Orleans, the Health Innovators Challenge award gives MedAux access to the state’s largest health systems and their resources, along with startup funding and other in-kind contributions. 

“The New Orleans Health Innovators Challenge is a great opportunity for healthcare start-ups to get an introduction to major health system leaders like Blue Cross and Ochsner,” said Elnaz Sarabchian, the company’s founder and CEO. “They are on the front lines of improving outcomes in Louisiana communities.”

Valuable Connections Lead Businesses to Locate in New Orleans

“We are actually considering New Orleans as a headquarters for our company because of the great opportunities. It is a modern city with a lot of new start-ups coming in,” Sarabchian explained in an interview.

The two finalists, MedAux (pronounced “meadow”), a California start-up with a text-based application, and Phreesiaa New York company with a digital platform, offered compelling solutions to capture data and improve health outcomes for populations that lack access to resources.

MedAux interacts with patients through automated text-messages and navigates them in various stages of care, while providing real-time clinical data.

Discovering New Approaches to Connect with Patients

“The care you get only has a small effect on your health status. More often, things like access to healthy food, clean water and air, and a great education system determine how healthy you are,” said Vindell Washington, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana executive vice president and chief medical officer. “To help us better serve patients and make sure they are getting what they need to be as healthy as possible, we need innovation and new approaches to connect with them outside of doctor’s appointments. Both these companies presented great solutions to do that, and we had a hard time choosing a winner! We’re excited about the potential for working with MedAux to develop their text message application.”

“At Ochsner, we have evolved from a healthcare system to a system that delivers health. We know that health depends on many things including social, economic and environmental factors, and our challenge this year was designed to help us identify innovators with solutions to help us better understand and address these factors,” said Aimee Quirk, CEO, innovationOchsner. “We applaud both finalists for responding to our challenge with forward-thinking solutions and congratulate MedAux for winning the prize. We look forward to these types of collaborative efforts to improve health outcomes and save and change more lives in the communities we serve.”

Finale Event Draws a Crowd

NOLAHI BIo Tech ShowcaseMore than 150 people attended the Health Innovators Challenge, which took place at the Louisiana Cancer Research Center. Seven local health-related start-ups showcased their products in a networking event preceding the challenge. Also in attendance were the winners of the New Orleans Health Department’s and University Medical Center’s Access to Care Challenge, Roundtrip; Lafayette General Foundation’s Real Time Results Challenge, CoHealth; and, Tulane Health System’s Affordable Choices Challenge, Symptify.

“Strong attendance at this event from our healthcare, digital, and business communities shows the robust spirit of collaboration in this city as we build our national reputation for innovation,” said Quentin Messer, Jr., president and CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance. “On behalf of the Business Alliance, I want to thank our partners Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and Ochsner Health System for their support of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in New Orleans.”

Supporting partners of the New Orleans Health Innovators Challenge included: Lookfar, Omega Concierge Services, Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann, LLC, The Warehouse, Propeller, Launch Pad, The Shop at CAC, and New Orleans BioInnovation Center.

About the New Orleans Business Alliance

One of only 62 Accredited Economic Development Organizations worldwide, the New Orleans Business Alliance is the official professional economic development organization for New Orleans. Formed in 2010, the public-private partnership focuses on holistic economic development: attract new business, grow existing businesses, revitalize neighborhoods and facilitate comprehensive workforce development programs beneficial for jobseekers and employers. By pursuing an inclusive economic development strategy, will create the perfect intersection of culture and commerce while delivering New Orleanians enhanced economic security. Visit nolaba.org for more information.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. We invest both time and money in the communities we serve, supporting the health and wellbeing of Louisianians through more than 200 charitable organizations.

With our subsidiaries, HMO Louisiana and Southern National Life, we provide group and individual health insurance plans, life and disability insurance, group voluntary products and administrative services to one out of four Louisiana residents. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana also provides Medicare supplement and Medicare Advantage plans and is a partner in offering the Healthy Blue Medicaid Managed care plan. Louisiana is the only state where we operate, with offices in every major region to serve our customers.

Founded in New Orleans in 1934, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is a tax-paying non-profit health insurer. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

To learn more, visit our website at www.bcbsla.com.   

About Ochsner Health System

Ochsner Health System is Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic, healthcare system. Driven by a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate, coordinated clinical and hospital patient care is provided across the region by Ochsner’s 40 owned, managed and affiliated hospitals and specialty hospitals, and more than 100 health centers and urgent care centers. Ochsner is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Hospital” across three specialty categories caring for patients from all 50 states and more than 70 countries worldwide each year. Ochsner employs nearly 25,000 employees and over 4,500 employed and affiliated physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties, and conducts more than 700 clinical research studies. Ochsner Health System is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


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