Healthbox is joining RockHealth in expanding to Boston. The Chicago accelerator announced yesterday at its Investor Day that applications are now open for a class that will run from August to October.
At the grand finale for the first class of entrepreneurs, 10 companies presented ideas that ranged from inventing hand-washing 2.0 to using conversation analysis to reduce readmission rates to turning a doctor’s paper billing process into a smartphone app.
Healthbox founder Nina Nashif said that two of the most disruptive forces in healthcare are the availability of data and the increase in consumerism. She has been watching the Blue Button initiative as an example of both trends.
“I think it’s one step in the right direction, having more access to information about your care,” she said. “Of course, it’s one thing to provide the data, another to make it accessible.”
The National chief technology officer Todd Park was the keynote speaker at the event and took the stage before the 10 companies presented their business ideas. He said that when the Blue Button project was first launched, some officials thought success would be 25,000 people downloading their health records.
“Since the program started, 750,000 people have downloaded a copy of their data multiple times each,” Park said. He added that after the initiative launched and started to gain traction, people in the private sector started calling. “They asked if we were allowed to do that, could we allow people to download a copy of their own data? And we said, yes, yes we can.”
In addition to establishing an East Coast presence, Nashif said that Healthbox is also planning to work with local professional organizations focused on the healthcare industry.
“In Chicago, there are lot of professional organizations for women, but they are all in silos and don’t always connect,” she said. “We are going to continue to build the ecosystem and bring people together.”
Many presenters thanked the Healthbox mentors for helping them to pivot to stronger ideas and to learn business lessons that would normally take years to master.
Nashif said that Healthbox initially set up a small group based on existing connections and then rounded out the group after the accelerator companies were selected.
“We wanted deep areas of expertise in important areas as well as geographic diversity,” she said. “This program really is about supporting the industry, so it was important to have a national group of mentors.”
Healthbox also found an interesting way to open and close the event: First, Jonthann Mann performed his original Healthbox theme song and then a second composition that recapped all 10 companies and their products. Sing it with me now, “Connect, innovate, groooowwww!”