Louisiana Blues name MedAux as winner of SDOH data challenge

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, Ochsner Health System and the New Orleans Business Alliance have chosen MedAux as the winner of the 2019 New Orleans Health Innovators Challenge.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, Ochsner Health System and the New Orleans Business Alliance have chosen MedAux as the winner of the 2019 New Orleans Health Innovators Challenge.

The award gives MedAux—a company that helps hospitals securely capture and centralize social determinant data—access to the state’s largest health systems and their resources, along with startup funding and other in-kind contributions.

The pitch for a solution to the Social Determinants Data Challenge was among the featured events during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, and was designed to form partnerships, increase investments and encourage high-growth start-ups to locate in New Orleans, the organizations said.

MedAux’s platform for standardizing social determinants of health (SDOH) interacts with patients through automated text-messages and navigates them in various stages of care, while providing real-time clinical data.

“Most healthcare organizations collect information on the social determinants of health in the form of paper questionnaires or interviews with patients, which results in unstructured, unsystematic, non-standardized data across healthcare systems,” says Elnaz Sarabchian, CEO of MedAux. “Unsystematic data collection leads to scattered data across various EMRs and prevents targeting populations. Getting a better handle on the data can yield a significant return on investment and improve community health.”

MedAux sends standardized text message questionnaires with hard-to-reach patients in mind, according to Sarabchian. There is no app to download, no logins and no account verification required. Patients can also receive questionnaires in their native language. The company has achieved a 96 percent engagement rate with the product and has so far integrated with Epic, Cerner, Centricity and Allscripts. It takes “about four minutes” for patients to complete the questionnaire, she says. MedAux also uses advanced intelligence to determine the best engagement method for each patient.

“Healthcare is a big space,” said Richard Milani, chief clinical transformation officer at BCBSLA. “It’s in constant change and it’s in constant need of innovation. Being the largest healthcare provider in the state, we recognize that we want to be on the cutting edge; we want to provide the best possible care and health opportunities for our patients and for patients across the world, frankly. And so, it’s important for us to sponsor events like to be able to demonstrate our commitment to innovation in healthcare.”

Somesh Nigam, senior vice president, BCBSLA, said the Blues plan is hoping the surge of entrepreneurial energy will help Louisiana boost its healthcare rankings. The Louisiana Blue serves 1.8 million citizens across commercial, Medicare and Medicaid.

Darrell Langlois, senior vice president of BCBSLA said it’s all about social determinants this year. “Innovation is one of our core values,” he added, noting that today’s rapid pace of change in healthcare makes this one of the most exciting times in history.

Aimee Quirk, CEO Ochsner, said the health system has a long history of innovation from its founding. “The last few years we have really invested a lot, specifically around digital health, advanced analytics, and ultimately, personalized health, and we know that we need partners to do that, and that’s why we work with Blue Cross and many others across the national ecosystem.”

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.

Quirk said the SDOH Challenge received 20 applications this year.

According to Quentin Messer, CEO New Orleans Business Alliance, the challenge, now in its second year, has more than doubled in the number of respondents and had its first international respondent.

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