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Congratulations to our eCare Application developers and team at Wake Forest Baptist Health for advancing to the final round of the National Innovation Contest! The eCare Application team will pitch their idea for solving the “Inventor’s Dilemma” for cost-lowering health care technology before a distinguished panel of health care entrepreneurs, executives and venture capitalists.

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Pictured: Pamela Duncan (WFBH), Bruce Rollman (University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine)
Rica Abbott (WFBH), Scott Rushing (WFBH), Mysha Sissine (WFBH)

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Pictured: Pamela Duncan (WFBH)

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Pictured: Scott Rushing (WFBH)

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Pictured: Rick Freeman (iSalus Solutions)


In October 2015, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a Viewpoint paper that identified several obstacles to developing cost-lowering health care technology in the United States.  It described the central barrier as the inventor’s dilemma.  The authors stated, “The inventor’s dilemma is that creating a product that improves health is not enough.”  To succeed, the product “must also be able to generate a healthy return on investment (and) the surest way to generate (it) is to increase health care spending, not reduce it” (JAMA. 2015;314:1447-48).

Among the solutions proposed in the JAMA Viewpoint to help solve the inventor’s dilemma was the use of prizes to entice creative thinkers to develop novel strategies that address this issue.  Contests offering incentive prizes have long been used to encourage a wide variety of non-traditional participants and approaches, and to attract public attention to the problem at hand.  Prominent examples include the Longitude Prize offered by the British Navy to develop an accurate chronometer for navigation at sea; the Orteig Prize to the first aviator to fly non-stop between New York and Paris awarded to Charles Lindberg; and the Netflix Prize to develop a software algorithm that substantially improves the accuracy of predictions about how much someone is going to enjoy a movie based on their past viewing preferences.

In 2014, the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of Pittsburgh launched the Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh).  PInCh contests are designed to: (1) incentivize multidisciplinary teams to solve clinically relevant problems; (2) select high-value proposals through a novel review mechanism; and (3) support highly innovative projects with funding, project management, and resources.  Now entering its third year, PInCh and its spin-off competitions have been a popular success.  However, entrants have been limited to teams comprised of University of Pittsburgh faculty members.

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