A health IT startup launched last year by four recent Johns Hopkins graduates and one soon-to-be JHU graduate was one of four firms to win a $100,000 top prize Monday in the InvestMaryland Challenge, a state-run competition to help promising new companies in the life sciences and high tech industries.
The competition, run by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, had 260 entries, The Baltimore Sun reported. Healthify took first place in the General Industry category, open to companies anywhere in the U.S. if they open a location in Maryland. Healthify, based in New York, beat out two other finalists—a wholesale food distribution website with a focus on local, sustainably-produced items; and an ad technology company.
"We are incredibly excited and honored to win," Manik Bhat, Healthify's CEO, wrote in an email. "We will be putting the money towards hiring design and web-development talent in Maryland to keep improving our product. ... We believe product development will never end. We want to keep pushing ourselves to build the best product for our customers and the patients we want to help."
Healthify aims to give doctors a more complete picture of their patients, with a focus on social and environmental factors that can affect health but might not come up during a routine visit. By completing a short, electronic questionnaire, patients provide doctors with potentially relevant information about how much stress they are under, for example, or whether they have enough money to pay their energy bills.
More, from Healthify's website:
Sixty percent of our health is affected by our social needs. Our access to food, mental health services, and community resources all play a pivotal role in improving our health outcomes. As a team, we saw these issues time and time again while working in Baltimore clinics and were dissatisfied by the status quo. Groups that are financially at-risk for patients don't have the tools or data needed to manage these needs or hit expanding quality measures under the [Affordable Care Act]. This inability results in an additional $85 billion a year. If we are serious about quality and value in healthcare, then we must be serious about how we address the social determinants of a patient. This is why we started Healthify.
Healthify's team is made up of four members of the JHU Class of 2012—Bhat, Head of Product Alex Villa, COO Eric Conner, and CIO Jimmy Corines—along with JHU senior Dan Levenson. Bhat said the team is currently rolling the platform out to about 20,000 patients in upstate New York and Maryland, and they hope to have 30,000 patients on the platform by the end of the year.
The other InvestMaryland Challenge winners were:
Life Sciences: Bethesda-based Brain Sentry, which has developed a helmet-mounted impact-detection sensor that indicates when the athlete wearing it should be evaluated for concussion.
IT Hardware and Software: Gaithersburg-based ClickMedix, which created a mobile-health platform designed to help doctors patients in parts of the world where medical care is scarce.
Cybersecurity: Frederick-based Luminal, which focuses on cloud-computing security and infrastructure.