Wireless Health Summit Showcases Incentive Prizes as Tool for Change

About 275 technologists and healthcare industry executives are gathering in downtown San Diego tomorrow as the Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance (WLSA) convenes its Seventh Annual Convergence Summit at the Grand Hyatt.

“The overarching theme of the summit this year is ‘How do we move from innovation to institutional and personal adoption of the tools and technologies for wireless health?’” says WLSA CEO Rob McCray. Tomorrow’s agenda consists of all closed-door sessions for WLSA members, while McCray says the agenda for Wednesday and Thursday, which has no restrictions but is nearly sold out, puts an emphasis on the imperative for adopting technology innovations that meet healthcare needs and help to reduce costs.

In Wednesday’s opening session, for example, McCray says Leslie Saxon of the USC Keck School of Medicine is highlighting some of the practical aspects in determining who pays as institutional customers adopt wireless healthcare innovations. David Sayen, regional administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid in Californa, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, and other Pacific islands, will talk about using innovation to wring more care from existing programs.

The 2012 summit also may go down as the year of incentive prizes in wireless health.

The parade of prizes begins Wednesday with the selection of a winner from three finalists named in early April as part of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Connected Care Challenge, a competition that was created to help bridge the gap in coordinating patient care among different healthcare practices. Each of the finalists received $50,000 to help advance their respective technologies for improving patient care in the gray area that exists between different healthcare providers. The winner will get an additional $100,000.

McCray says he hopes J&J’s challenge also will help to prod change, as a provision of the Affordable Care Act requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reduce reimbursement payments for certain patients who are readmitted to hospitals within 30 days of a prior hospitalization. In addition to providing cash awards for entrepreneurs, McCray says the challenge is “trying to create reasons for competitors to collaborate.”

On Thursday morning, the WLSA has arranged for Peter Diamandis, the founder and chairman of the X Prize Foundation, to announce plans for its next competition. Diamandis also is on the schedule later Thursday for a panel discussion about the use of prizes to spur innovation that includes Qualcomm Chairman and CEO Paul Jacobs and McCray of the WLSA.

The WLSA says it also received a record 160 applications for its own prize competition, the fourth annual iAwards for Wireless Health, which is intended to recognize new wireless technologies in healthcare that are both innovative and have had a recognized impact. The field has been winnowed to 12 finalists in three categories—best consumer experience, clinical application, and operational effectiveness—and a winner will be announced at the summit Thursday.

Although winners of the WLSA competition receive no cash, McCray says, “one of the companies we’ve showcased before [as a 2011 iAward winner] is announcing a significant new venture capital investment.” McCray didn’t say which 2011 iAward winner is making the announcement, but Pittsburgh, PA-based BodyMedia, which makes a wearable sensing device for assessing metabolic activity for weight monitoring, raised $2.7 million of a planned $10 million investment round, according to a regulatory filing in March.

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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