Verizon Powerful Answers Award – Healthcare Winners

The Award carries a total of $10 million in cash prizes.

By Debi Lewis on January 3, 2014

When Verizon announced its Powerful Answers Award nearly a year ago, the company challenged innovators, developers and entrepreneurs to create ideas that would leverage Verizon’s cloud, broadband and wireless networks to deliver great solutions and social good. The Award carries with it a total of $10 million in cash prizes and the potential to collaborate with Verizon’s network experts.

More than 1,300 entries, three rounds of judging and lots of great conversation later, the 15 winning ideas were announced last month. On Jan. 8, 2014, the winners in the three categories – healthcare, sustainability and education – will be in Las Vegas at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show as Verizon reveals the prize amounts for each company and the culmination of the Award program.  

The winners in the healthcare category address a variety of issues, including allowing healthcare providers to visualize the network of care around patients; how to identify and treat diseases early through a combination of big data, biotechnology and telemedicine; and a solution that monitors patients on the anticoagulation therapy warfarin. Other winners focus on how to address hearing loss in developing countries with better screening techniques and an app that does portable vision examinations in a low-cost, non-invasive manner. 

Factor 14 – Poor management of the anticoagulation therapy warfarin is responsible for 40,000 deaths and more than $8 billion in healthcare expenditures in the United States every year. Factor 14 is developing the first fully integrated warfarin management solution. By combining an easy-to-use sensor, wireless data transmission and an intuitive user interface, patients and healthcare providers will have the ability to efficiently and accurately make warfarin dosage adjustments, helping to produce improved patient outcomes and substantial savings to insurers. Using proprietary technology developed at the University of Michigan, a painless, one-step blood coagulation sensor is being developed that can be operated by users of all ages in the convenience of their own homes or on the go.

Freenome – A core problem in detecting disease is that everything is symptoms-based. If a person has an ache or a cough, doctors make assumptions and spend money trying to extrapolate what illness he or she may have. Recent advancements in biophysics prove that nanotechnology empowered to data-mine and monitor biomolecules in real time is possible and will revolutionize healthcare. Freenome has begun to answer the biocompatibility, biophysical, cellular and big data questions surrounding this technology platform in order to engineer the device to provide an innovative and cost effective solution for monitoring patients and populations over time.

Portable Vision Examination – There are more than 500 million people worldwide suffering from refractive error-related visual impairment, and a majority of these people do not have access to sufficient medical attention. Notably, most of the cases are in developing countries given the high cost of medical devices and the scarcity of trained medical professionals. In the United States, vision disorders are the fourth most common disability and the most prevalent handicapping condition during childhood. The Smart Aberrometer is a portable vision examination device that, with a single snapshot, will be able to measure refractive errors of the eye and generate prescriptions – all without patient interaction. The pocket-sized and low cost Smart Aberrometer uses a smartphone’s flashlight and camera, combined with an add-on microlens array, to improve the way people get their vision evaluated.

Seratis – Seratis is bringing healthcare providers, who are highly dependent on care coordination and information exchange, out of the pager era and into the 21st century with a suite of smart communication and workflow management tools. Through a patient-centric mobile platform, doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers will be able to visualize the network of care providers around each patient, helping them to communicate more easily and request and share patient-specific care data. With an emphasis on patient safety and satisfaction, Seratis utilizes innovative analytics tools that promote collaboration among medical professionals and ensure that every team member is on the same page.

Solar Ear – Millions of young children with hearing loss in developing countries don’t have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Their hearing is not screened, and they are excluded from education and isolated from society because they show learning difficulties. Solar Ear focuses on screening these populations, where there is very limited access to hearing testing, hearing aids and hearing-care facilities. The earlier the child gets care for his or her hearing loss, the earlier the child learns to communicate and integrate into a public school. 

To see the other winners, click here.