• Home
  • Bio
  • New Orleans Health Innovators Challenge Update: Two Finalists to Compete in the Social Determinants Data Challenge

New Orleans Health Innovators Challenge Update: Two Finalists to Compete in the Social Determinants Data Challenge

Transportation, food accessibility, and zip codes—these are all social determinants that can play as significant of a role as genetics in determining a person’s health and well-being. Healthcare professionals increasingly recognize that disparities in the social determinants of health (SDOH) profoundly affect the management of long-term conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. 

Currently, lack of data capturing creates roadblocks to patient intervention and treatment. To address this need, the New Orleans Business Alliance is partnering with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and Ochsner Health System for the second New Orleans Health Innovators Challenge. This year, the challenge focuses on a digital solution to capturing social determinants data.

Selected from a nationwide applicant pool, MedAux and Phreesia will compete in the New Orleans Health Innovators Challenge Pitch Finale on March 27 for an opportunity to win up to $36,000 in project funding and access to Louisiana’s largest healthcare providers. Register to attend the pitch finale.

The pitch finale presents an opportunity for emerging digital health companies to experience firsthand New Orleans’s premier medical facilities and vibrant entrepreneurial community, while showcasing their innovations to local healthcare decision-makers.

Interacting by Text Message: MedAux

MedAux LogoMedAux is an electronic medical record (EMR) compatible solution that interacts with users through text messages, gathers and analyzes data, maps the data to the EMR, and sends alerts to the service providers. The novelty of MedAux is the use of a collaborative platform that specifically focuses on vulnerable populations.

The platform is fully customizable for measuring any user-reported outcomes, social determinants of health (SDOH), quality of life, patient satisfaction, or sending alerts and broadcast messages to engage with the community members. In this system, EMR integration is completely optional and the platform can launch with or without IT involvement.

Elnaz Sarabchian, founder & CEO of MedAux, created the platform in order to drive change in the healthcare system. “Health is more than healthcare,” said Elnaz. “Social determinants of health and access to care is the key factor to have healthier communities.”MedAux Founder Elnaz Sarabchian

For MedAux, New Orleans is an opportunity for the startup to expand its reach and work with a healthcare system that serves populations facing disparities in the social determinants of health.

“The purpose of the MedAux Tool is to assist your organization, agency, or department in assessing its capacity to address the social determinants of health and ultimately, advance health equity on a population level,” explains Elnaz.

A Platform to Engage Patients: Phreesia 

Phreesia LogoPhreesia engages patients before, during, and after their visit when they are most receptive to messaging about their health. Across 85 million unique interactions per year, their SaaS-based intake and outreach platform activates patients in their care and provides a modern, consistent experience, while offering healthcare organizations a suite of robust applications to optimize staffing, boost profitability and enhance clinical care.

Among these applications, their social determinants of health product helps clients bring patient-reported SDOH data together with electronic health record (EHR) and health plan data. Phreesia facilitates the collection and segmentation of SDOH data at scale, allowing organizations to better understand unmet needs in their community and address them in real-time at both the individual and community level.

Hilary Hatch, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and vice president of Clinical Engagement at Phreesia, where she leads development of clinical programs. She serves as a thought partner for innovative health systems and plans. As the former CEO of Vital Score, a company acquired by Phreesia in 2019, she will present at the pitch finale.

Hilary Hatch Phreesia“As a psychologist, I am passionate about strengthening the humans in health care: priming patients to be partners in their care and easing the burden of providers in addressing the overwhelming unmet needs of patients with complex behavioral health and social needs,” says Hatch.

New Orleans presents an opportunity for Phreesia to connect to an innovative healthcare market that is a national leader in promoting health equity for vulnerable populations.

“Phreesia is excited to partner with innovators in New Orleans and join in the city-wide efforts to reduce health disparities in the community,” explains Hatch. “In partnership with innovative health systems, plans, community organizations and growing healthcare companies in the BioDistrict, we believe we can help connect patients to the resources they need to improve overall health and well-being.”

Hatch contends that while there is consensus in the medical community that social determinants of health account for 80 percent of health outcomes, many healthcare organizations lack a standardized method for identifying and activating patients in real-time.

“Some companies today attempt to use proxy data such as demographics information, internet browsing activity, GPS mapping, and medical records to estimate patients’ risk factors and needs. Phreesia fills the gap in information when it comes to capturing the patient’s voice and following up to support their self-identified needs,” asserts Hatch.

Get to Know Up-and-Coming Companies

Attendees to the New Orleans Health Innovators Challenge will have an opportunity to network with biotech and healthcare entrepreneurs. Click here to register.

In addition to thanking the New Orleans Health Innovators Challenge presenting partners, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and Ochsner Health System, we thank the following partners for their support: Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann, Omega Concierge Services, LookFar, The Warehouse, Propeller, Launch Pad, The Shop at CAC, and New Orleans BioInnovation Center.


Sign up for our newsletter to keep up with the latest events, opportunities, and announcements from NOLABA and the New Orleans business community.
1250 Poydras St., Suite 2150
New Orleans, LA 70113
info@nolaba.org | 504.934.4500