By Dalton Shaull, President and CEO, HealthTech Solutions
Organ transplant is a complicated, time-sensitive process that relies on numerous phone calls and faxes per donated organ. This inefficient communication contributes to over 50 percent of available organs being wasted when a significant portion could be transplanted. Meanwhile, 22 patients die each day in the U.S. waiting for a life-saving organ; over 120,000 people continue to wait for a major organ transplant; and the average wait time is five+ years.
These are deeply personal issues for me, since I experienced a near-fatal automobile accident and received an experimental transplant at Mayo Clinic as a result. After my recovery, I co-founded a company, HealthTech Solutions, with Eric Pahl while we were students at the University of Iowa. The goal of the company was to deal head-on with the issues stemming from the decentralized and complex communication inherent in organ referrals, offerings, allocation, procurement and transplantation.
We developed our first product, TXP Chat™, a secure app designed to facilitate efficient and streamlined communication between organ procurement and transplant centers, and clinicians and coordinators. Then we entered 12 innovation competitions to market ourselves, attract interest and win prize funding.
We went to the Medical Capital Innovation Competition (MCIC) kind of wide-eyed, not knowing what to expect. But since winning second place in MCIC’s Collegiate Competition we were introduced to different fundraising opportunities in the Greater Cleveland area through BioEnterprise and JumpStart We raised more than $1 million in seed funding and received a $250,000 SBIR Phase One Grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue developing and commercializing our products.
MCIC was different than the other competitions we entered, in that it connected winning companies to major health systems and transplant centers. The Northeast Ohio organizations we were connected to through MCIC continue to be a catalyst for our important developments and relationships.
MCIC also taught us to think bigger on applying our technology to other needs and larger markets outside transplant such as Artificial Intelligence applications to support better decision-making during the transplant process; and blockchain verification for exchanging healthcare information.
If we have one major piece of advice for collegiate teams applying for the competition it would be that you need to be prepared to simplify your message for a very diverse audience. Sometimes teams will undervalue and forget to tell their story in order to talk numbers and market; but you need a strong story that people can emotionally connect with. Don’t overlook the power of a great story!