Outside the walls of the Hilton Austin Hotel on Monday, March 16, the streets were buzzing. Participants of this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive became a frenetic blur of motion, barely distinguishable among the crowd as badges jostled up and down on their chests, bouncing back and forth between hotel conference rooms that hosted a multitude of events and exhibitions. Inside, at the first ever Impact Pediatric Health Pitch Competition, an event that brought together the nation’s top four pediatric institutions to evaluate a broad swath of digital health and medical technology startups, a quieter moment was taking place.
As innovators from across the country—all focused on improving children’s health—presented their pitches, one in particular stood out from the crowd. Kezia Fitzgerald, the chief executive officer and co-founder of CareAline Products, made a reserved, yet impassioned, plea for her product: a cloth sleeve and wrap that prevents hospitalized children from dislodging central lines that deliver medication for conditions such as cancer.
“Currently, there have been over 3,000 patients that have benefited from our products,” she noted during her presentation. “We believe that CareAline should be the standard of care in all hospitals.” Fitzgerald was prompted to innovate the simple solution out of necessity when her infant daughter was undergoing chemotherapy for neuroblastoma. Her stirring story, combined with the elegant ingenuity of her product, tugged at the heartstrings of the event’s emcee: billionaire entrepreneur, “Shark Tank” member and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban.
“As an individual entrepreneur, I know it’s rough—you work hard to get your product out there,” empathized Cuban after a brief moment of solemnity upon learning that Fitzgerald’s daughter, Saoirse, had passed away in 2011. That atmosphere evaporated almost instantaneously when Cuban pledged to buy a batch of CareAline’s products and brand them with the Dallas Maverick’s logo, replacing gravity with the roar of cheers and applause. He also offered to make introductions to Dallas hospitals to help solicit sales for CareAline.
In addition to garnering Cuban’s support, CareAline was awarded the top prize from judges representing the participating institutions—Boston Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Texas Children’s Hospital—as well as participating venture capital firms. The four children’s hospitals were focused on attracting the most innovative digital health and medical technology startups dedicated to making and keeping kids healthy.
“Capacity for real change was certainly an important criteria when judging these competitors,” reflected Michael Belfort, M.D., Ph.D., obstetrician and gynecologist-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital. “Given the changing landscape of health care over the next five to ten years, I like seeing companies that are coming out with a device, drug or product that is going to be affordable, can be easily implemented, and has the potential to make a major impact.”
Accounting for roughly 25 percent of the U.S. population, the pediatric market presents significant potential for new companies and products. “The pediatric market is hungry for innovations,” said Brian Lang, chief city architect for Energizing Health Houston and the event’s producer. “We’re focused on treating sick kids and helping them get well, in addition to keeping them healthy and safe day-to-day throughout their life.”
Lang describes the pitch competition as an expression of the importance of building collaborations between large organizations and small entrepreneurs, helping companies pitch to venture capitalists while achieving visibility and exposure to pediatric institutions—and by extension, access to patient populations.
“Kids are more than our future, they are our ‘now’,” he concluded. “Kids are some of our highest users and early adopters of technology. With the increase in big data wearables and global connectivity, it’s imperative that we capitalize on these trends with the goal of improving children’s health.”
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VA program using telemedicine to improve care of critically ill patients in regional hospitals appeared to reduce transfers to ICUs at larger facilities without compromising patient survival, researchers said. https://t.co/3shlLvcRbn via @HealthLeaders
Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is @USArmy Veteran Joe Lopez. https://t.co/XNJFhMYYlM
RT @RiceUNews: Thanks to @MarkBermanFox26 and all the other #Houston media for visiting campus Thursday when we introduced @RiceBaseball's…
U.S. Department of Veterans AffairsVeteransAffairs
Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Joe Lopez. Joe served from 1955 to 1987. Joe was born and raised in Fresno, California and enlisted in the Army straight out of high school in 1955. He attended basic training with the 8th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado and attended Airborne school in Fort Campbell, Kentucky right after completing basic. He was trained as an infantryman and a paratrooper. Joe’s first assignment was with the 21st Infantry Brigade, 24th Infantry Division in Munich, Germany and in 1958, he was reassigned to the 327th Airborne Infantry, 101st Airborne Infantry Division at Fort Campbell. In 1961, Joe was chosen to attended Special Forces and Communications training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Upon graduation, he was assigned to Delta Company, 7th Special Forces Group in the Canal Zone, Panama and he participated in various classified assignments throughout South and Central America. In 1965, he returned to Fort Bragg and was assigned to the 6ht Special Forces Group and the year after was sent on an assignment with the 11th Corps on South Korea and was wounded in Dak To and was evacuated to Yokohama, Japan. After he recuperated, he asked to be sent back to Vietnam instead of going home and was assigned to C-3 Mobile Strike Force, 111th Corps. Joe was then reassigned to the 10th Special Forces Group on Germany in 1967 and spent two years participating in covert missions in Europe. He was then deployed to Vietnam once again in 1969, when he was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 11th Corps at Kontum, South Vietnam. Joe was injured a second time in 1970 during a fire fight in Dak Seang, Vietnam and was eventually sent home to recover at the Womack Army Hospital in Fort Bragg. Joe became tired of the daily routine and activities and requested to become the Training NCO of the 7th Special Forces Group and was able to become the First Sergeant of the Headquarters and Support Company, 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg. Joe was able to attend the US Army Sergeants Major Academy Sergeant Major Course in January 1974 and was subsequently assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group in Canal Zone, Panama once again and participated in covert missions until 1984. He retired soon after in 1987. Thank you for your service, Joe!
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How we’re leading the way in #thyroidcancer treatment: https://t.co/MgHQp9I0Dd #endcancer
RT @davidleebron: Here’s the sequel. Gorgeousness from the opposite perspective at the end of the day. https://t.co/TOID4qgnLF
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RT @UH_MVP: Come volunteer next Saturday, take some time out of your summer to give back to our Houston community! https://t.co/wIdQtK3LmX
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Today @Ppisters, @svargheseCHRO and other MD Anderson senior leaders set the pace for the President’s Fitness Challenge Row, Ride, Run. Next week, all employees are invited to form teams and try to beat Dr. Pisters’ time. #endcancer https://t.co/kHPILjnwi2
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