As patients, we have power. We have the ability to use our experiences to shed light on the constant uphill battles we face in all facets of life as we take on inflammatory bowel disease. We have the opportunity to serve as patient advocates and leaders in our respective health communities and be a voice for those who suffer in silence. As advocates, we can share the challenges and the triumphs. We can articulate where the roadblocks are, where we struggle and come up with lifechanging solutions—not only for ourselves, but countless others.
This is where Lyfebulb and United Health Group come in. They recently launched the first-ever Innovation Challenge for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The Challenge will recognize and award top patient entrepreneurs developing innovative ideas for better management of IBD using healthcare information technology, medical devices, consumer products or services. Get this—the top three winners receive $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000 respectively!
I had a chance to chat with Lyfebulb’s, CEO and Founder, Karin Hehenberger, M.D., Ph.D. about the Innovation Challenge for IBD. Karin says, her main mission is, “to reduce the burden of IBD, by accelerating the pace and adoption of innovation in the disease state, while raising awareness for the conditions.”
Karin is a chronic illness patient and advocate herself. Quite simply—she gets it. She lived with Type 1 Diabetes for nearly 20 years before she decided to share her story. Complications of her diabetes led her to need a kidney and pancreas transplant. Through these challenging life experiences, she found her passion for making a difference.
“My intense personal experiences enabled me to realize key insights. I started thinking about how many daily issues I had lived with as a person with T1D and came to the realization about how my own patient journey and professional expertise, could help drive research and innovation.”
In years past, Lyfebulb has held these types of challenges for diabetes and cancer. Past winners invented everything from a clever solution to ensure injected insulin was still potent and had not gone bad due to storage issues to creating a natural and better bone replacement device for those battling cancer who have experienced bone deterioration.
Much like those diseases, IBD impacts all areas of life. Karin believes there is still much we can do in the IBD space when it comes to awareness and education. It’s her hope this Innovation Challenge for IBD will help raise the level of attention on the complexities and challenges facing those of us in the patient community.
How to apply
You are eligible if:
- You work on innovative ideas and concepts for better care and management of IBD using healthcare information technology, medical devices, consumer products or services; and
- You, or a family member of loved one, live with IBD; and
- Your idea is something other than a pharmaceutical or diagnostic innovation.
Click here to apply. The deadline to apply is Thursday, June 7 at 11:59 P.M. ET.
Lyfebulb and UnitedHealth Group will gather all submissions and will review them for eligibility.
The judging panel will look for evidence in the following categories:
- Patient Entrepreneur story
- Degree of innovation
- Impact on patient needs
- Feasibility of development and implementation
From the submissions, 10 finalists are selected to present at the Innovation Challenge in late July. All finalists are flown to the summit in Minnetonka, Minnesota and treated to two days of interactions with other finalists, the jury and with Lyfebulb and UnitedHealth Group employees during one on one meetings, group meetings, presentations and meal gatherings.
If you are chosen to attend the Innovation Challenge summit, you will pitch your idea in front of the jury and audience composed of Lyfebulb, UnitedHealth Group members and invited guests. Best of luck to all the applicants. As a Crohn’s patient of nearly 13 years—thank you for going above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of others!