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On Thursday afternoon, AHIMA20 general session attendees decided that Candlelit Therapy, a virtual mental health clinic, had the best pitch in answering the question “How might we use health and human data to identify social determinants of health to improve patient outcomes and healthcare systems?” at AHIMA’s second annual Pitch Competition. Candlelit Therapy won the top prize, $5,000, and the second-place winner, Augmented Intelligence, received $2,500.

Candlelit Therapy’s platform was designed specifically to reach women of color before, during, and after pregnancy, which the company’s founders believe will help address disproportionate maternal mortality rates of Black women and reduce health disparities among black women and families. According to Candlelit Founder and CEO Lauren Elliott, the data they collect and use directly impacts social determinants of health. The company aims to build a new standard of care rooted in cultural competence, evidence-based therapy, and technology. Its virtual services include mental health screenings before or during pregnancies, one-on-one therapy consults, personalized care plans, virtual communities of other moms and group therapy options, and a portable mental health record.

Candlelit Therapy’s platform was designed specifically to reach women of color before, during, and after pregnancy, which the company’s founders believe will help address disproportionate maternal mortality rates of Black women and reduce health disparities among black women and families. The data they collect and use directly impacts social determinants of health. The company aims to build a new standard of care rooted in cultural competence, evidence-based therapy, and technology.

Candlelit Therapy Founder and CEO Lauren Elliott

The Candlelit team includes perinatal-trained mental health providers, health equity advocates and clinical advisors from the nation’s leading medical institutions. According to their pitch, Candlelit’s services are designed to help providers intervene before a crisis situation develops by offering a continuum of care that doesn’t exist expressly for people of color.

Candlelit’s focus on placing tools in the hands of moms moves the discussion closer to how health and human data is used to improve patient outcomes and healthcare systems,” said Pitch Competition judge Julie Pursley, MSHI, RHIA, CHDA, FAHIMA, director of health information thought leadership at AHIMA.

For this year’s competition, which is a joint effort between the Chicago-based health technology incubator MATTER and AHIMA, AHIMA20 attendees listened to five pre-recorded pitches from five different startups on Wednesday afternoon.

Those finalists also included:

  • Augmented Intelligence, the competition’s second-place winner, an artificial intelligence (AI) software technology company that creates products for health and social services organizations to empower staff, improve performance management, and drive compliance by putting narrative data to use.
  • ClaraPrice, which won the third place, earned $1,500 in prize money, develops software that helps providers comply with the 2020 OPPS Final Rule for Hospital Price Transparency.
  • CareSignal, which creates evidence-based, condition-specific remote patient engagement programs to support over two dozen chronic and behavioral health conditions for rising-risk patients and members.
  • HuddleMD, a platform that takes a holistic approach to understanding each patient that includes factors like social determinants of health (education, economics, community context, etc.) as they relate to congestive heart failure.

A panel of judges evaluated the five finalists and narrowed the field down to two finalists, which AHIMA20 attendees voted on during Thursday’s AHIMA Day general session.

Round one judges were:

  • Julie Pursley, MSHI, RHIA, CHDA, FAHIMA —director of health information thought leadership at AHIMA
  • Tim Stettheimer, PhD—vice president of education at the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME)
  • Kwaku Owusu—CEO and founder of DrugViu, the 2019 AHIMA Pitch Contest winner
  • Steven Collens—CEO of MATTER

The Pitch Competition is open to university researchers, students, entrepreneurs, and existing startups of all stages with ideas to advance healthcare using health data and information. Submissions can range from a napkin sketch to on-market products. Entrants and their solutions were evaluated on their ability to meet the following criteria:

  • Ability to clearly articulate the “challenge statement” as follows: How might we use health and human data to identify social determinants of health to improve patient outcomes and healthcare systems?
  • Quality, feasibility, and scalability of proposed solution or technology
  • Differentiation of solution within the competitive landscape
  • Capability of participant to develop and execute solution
  • Extent to which a partnership with AHIMA can advance a solution—or a description of why AHIMA would be an optimal partner
Further Reading

Journal of AHIMA: Focus on Social Determinants of Health
Journal of AHIMA: Population Health Platform Wins AHIMA’s First Pitch Competition

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