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.”
Veterans talking Veterans back from the brink: A new approach to policing and lives in crisis https://t.co/tUTatuJ4q8 via @washingtonpost
RT @RiceWBB: PREVIEW: Owls set to face Marquette Friday (1 p.m.) on ESPN2 in opening round of NCAA Tournament.📰 https://t.co/uwyHbcOYYE…
Harris Health System@harrishealth
RT @PasadenaPDTX: ***S.H. 225 is now open***
Social media use for professional purposes by medical students and doctors has risen dramatically. @McGovernMed rheumatology fellow @DrKanikaMonga provides the following Twitter tips, follows, and chats for doctors in training: https://t.co/pwn7YAIVqh #SoMeDocs #MedEd #MedTwitter
RT @BCMAcademyHISD: Our scholar seminar series this month included #doctorsdayoutreach and a celebration of women’s history month. Thank yo…
University of Houston@UHouston
RT @UHCougars: Coog Fans on campus today. Stop by TDECU Stadium and pick up a free 3 pack of @reeses for the @UHCougarMBK being a 3 seed ri…
With the weather growing warmer, springtime is the perfect chance to spend more time in the great outdoors. In these photos from the 2000 Aesculapian Yearbook, students are enjoying some of the country's most beautiful national parks. https://t.co/gGnZ4FFgVY #TBT #Spring https://t.co/5QnlRcqLSb
Baylor College of MedicineBaylorCollegeOfMedicine
From the Labs continues their Women's History Month series showcasing the work of some of our women researchers. #WomensHistoryMonth
Find your own "Joyful Movement" by creating a workout routine that best fits YOU! Check out these tips from UTHealth Dietetic Internship Program @UTexasSPH @msdcenter on how to develop a positive relationship with exercise. https://t.co/TgHmxBwxhg
RT @UTCVSurgery: Fun Fact: March is DVT awareness month! After being treated for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) by Dr. Sheila Coogan, Anthony's…
Find your own "Joyful Movement" by creating a workout routine that best fits YOU! Check out these tips from UTHealth Dietetic Internship Program on how to develop a positive relationship with exercise.
Texas Children's HospitalTexasChildrensHospital
Meet our local champion and Texas Children's Hospital patient, Leigh Ann! We're excited to celebrate #ChildrensHospitalWeek with Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. This week focuses on ensuring children’s hospitals across the U.S. have the necessary funds to care for 10 million kids each year.
CHI St. Luke's Health@CHI_StLukes
Our love for the Greater #Houston community is at the heart of everything we do. Discover our favorite restaurants that inspire health and happiness in our Local's Guides: https://t.co/oegrvNAWh9 #WeHeartHouston https://t.co/X6eiPSBLDY
MD Anderson Cancer Center@MDAndersonNews
@TheRobertDaigle We're so glad to hear that, Robert.
VA to Make New Nasal Spray Drug Available for Treatment-Resistant Depression https://t.co/ZpM3d6KVO6 via @SIERRASUNTIMES