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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and MATTER Select Health Equity Challenge Winners

Dec. 20, 2018

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) named the winners of a nationwide Health Equity Innovation Challenge. BCBSIL teamed with MATTER to seek out creative solutions to address the social determinants of health and help BCBSIL members overcome social, cultural and/or economic barriers to health care.

Bright Pink won the top prize of $15,000, and the opportunity to pilot their solution with BCBSIL. Bright Pink saves lives by helping close the gap for women who face barriers to accessing the information and resources they need to prevent and detect breast and ovarian cancer early.

“Bright Pink is thrilled for the opportunity to partner with MATTER and BCBSIL to democratize access to personalized breast and ovarian cancer prevention for Illinois women,” said Meg Lassar, SVP of Strategy and Advancement at Bright Pink. “We look forward to bringing the expertise and resources of these leading health care innovators to bear on our efforts to empower women to know their cancer risk and manage their health proactively.”

Amah Health was awarded 2nd place, along with $10,000 and a pilot opportunity with BCBSIL. Amah Health uses evidence-based behavior science to stratify and engage Limited English Proficient (LEP) patients to help predict and influence their health behaviors in a culturally and linguistically appropriate way.

“I named AMAH for my grandmother, Yueying (“Amah” means grandma in Taiwanese). My family struggled with managing my grandma’s diabetes and fitting Western medicine into her lifestyle and health beliefs. That’s why I am dedicated to proactively assessing health behaviors of diverse populations to enable better patient experiences and outcomes for more families,” said Yi-am Yang, CEO and Founder of Amah Health.

A student team from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, took 3rd place and received $5,000. Megan Wu and Justine Ly proposed developing predictive analytics using electronic medical record data to identify patients at risk of not showing up to schedule appointments. They envision clinics proactively contacting these patients to address any socioeconomic barriers to making their appointments.

“I am thankful and honored for the opportunity MATTER and BCBSIL has provided us to think critically and tangibly to address systemic issues regarding health equity,” said Loyola team member Justine Ly. “Through the Health Equity Innovation Challenge, we have gained the confidence that our idea originally intended for a medical school project has vast potential to close health care gaps and improve patient outcomes.”

Five finalists were selected to live pitch their ideas to a panel of BCBSIL judges on December 3 at MATTER’s Chicago headquarters.

“It was incredible to listen to so many dynamic ideas aimed at making a difference in the social factors that influence the health of our members and communities,” says Dr. Derek Robinson, chief medical officer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. “We’re excited to align financial incentives with innovation in health equity and look forward to launching pilots with Bright Pink and AMAH Health.”

The three winning teams will also each receive six-month memberships at MATTER.

“There isn’t enough entrepreneurial focus on health equity, so we were thrilled to see the flood of creative solutions proposed in response to the Health Equity Innovation Challenge,” said MATTER CEO Steven Collens. “We look forward to helping the winning teams further develop their ideas at MATTER over the next six months."

The Health Equity Challenge is part of BCBSIL’s broader efforts to impact the issues that are keeping health care out of reach for many people. BCBSIL and Blues plans in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Montana have launched Affordability Cures , a $1.5 billion commitment over three years to accelerate new and existing efforts to find solutions with staying power to reduce health care costs.