DETROIT – Henry Ford Innovations, in partnership with Google Cloud and Miracle Software Systems, will launch an international competition hosted in Detroit, inviting entrepreneurs to propose their top ideas for reducing health inequities through the use of digital technology. Henry Ford Innovations is the innovations arm of Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System. 

The winner will receive $75,000 in cash and in-kind support toward developing their digital solution at Henry Ford Health System.

The Digital Inclusion Challenge, which runs through the summer, will kick off May 19, 2021 with a virtual conversation about the need for culturally sensitive and unbiased patient-centric solutions to be developed that bridge the gap between healthcare and technology.

“Through cross-industry partnerships, our ability to adopt technologies designed to end the disparities in health outcomes due to race, ethnicity, or gender increases exponentially,” said Carladenise Edwards, Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of Henry Ford Health System. “We have achieved amazing advances in digital enablement in healthcare, especially over the last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic challenged us to think and act differently on behalf of our communities. But – if the populations experiencing the worse health outcomes aren’t benefiting from those achievements, then our journey is far from over.”

 Added Martina Caldwell, M.D., Medical Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Henry Ford Medical Group:  “That’s one of the most rewarding aspects of this challenge. Not only will diverse thinkers and innovators who are truly committed to our shared health equity mission benefit from this challenge, our patients and the communities we serve will see a tangible benefit from the winning idea.” 

All entries that address digital inclusion will be considered, with the focus on identifying those concepts that address the biggest pain points for digitally excluded patients. Among them:

  • How to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for digitally excluded patients
  • How to make it easier for these patients to learn about their health and healthcare services
  • How to empower care teams to deliver better services to these patients 

“Technology can be a powerful driver for improving access and equity in health,” said Esteban López, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Google Cloud. “It’s important for us all to come together to empower innovation and shape the future of health.”

Entries are due by June 24, 2021. Entrepreneurs, clinicians, engineers, designers, and other innovators are invited to participate. The challenge team also plans to partner with international and Detroit-based organizations to actively recruit women and minority applicants. Twenty finalists will be announced in July 2021. That list will be narrowed in late summer to five, who will then participate in a live pitch competition.

 Those interested in participating in the innovation challenge are invited to attend a one-hour, virtual fireside chat on May 19, 2021. This event will feature a number of speakers including:

  • Dr. Martina Caldwell, Medical Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Henry Ford Medical Group
  • Aaron Wootton, Vice President of Analytics, Henry Ford Health System
  • Dr. Esteban López, Market Lead of Healthcare and Life Sciences at Google Cloud