BCBSLA’s tech competition aims to prevent social isolation in seniors

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, the New Orleans Business Alliance and Ochsner Health System are looking for startup companies with innovations that can solve social isolation in older adults.

With more senior citizens choosing to age in place and live alone, addressing the prevalence of social isolation has become a global health priority, BCBSLA says.

The 2020 New Orleans Health Innovators Challenge closes on January 15, with applicants competing to win cash prizes and opportunities to pilot programs in some of the region's largest medical institutions.

The New Orleans Health Innovators Challenge was created in 2017 by the New Orleans Business Alliance, BCBSLA and Ochsner Health System to drive healthcare innovation and investment in New Orleans and beyond, the groups say.

"Ochsner Health System and innovationOchsner (iO) are passionate about using innovation to build a healthier, stronger community," says Aimee Quirk, CEO of iO. "We have identified social isolation as an important factor that affects not only quality of life but also health and health outcomes. We are challenging innovators to come forward with creative ideas to solve this issue and help us develop new interventions to save and change more lives and improve individual and population health."

Darrell Langlois, chief strategy and innovation officer at BCBSLA, says the partnership with Ochsner and the New Orleans Business Alliance has helped the health plan discover emerging technologies to improve care for its members. “As we enter the third year of this challenge, we're very excited to learn from those proposing innovative ideas to address social isolation, which is a growing behavioral health need that affects overall health, particularly for our members 65 and older," he says.

“The New Orleans Health Innovators Challenge is an exciting event that gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their meaningful solutions to big problems the world faces today related to health,” says Elnaz Sarabchian, CEO of MedAux, winner of the 2019 Social Determinants Data Challenge, an electronic medical record-compatible solution that interacts with users through text messages. The solution also gathers and analyzes data, maps the data to the EMR and sends alerts to providers.

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