Ana Escalante

Disruptive Innovations Contest Winners

Health CareHere on NextBillion, we have followed the Disruptive Innovations contest from Ashoka very closely, hoping that a new ?disruptive innovation? will provide a good idea or innovation for the BOP. The winners were announced earlier this month and truthfully, I am very disappointed. There were three winners–none of them are international, nor is there one that caters the BOP.

The competition’s objective was to find ’disruptive innovations’–as Professor Clayton Christensen from Harvard Business School refers to innovations that dramatically reshape current trends. This specific competition aimed to find solutions for health and health care marketplace problems. The online competition, “Disruptive Innovations in Health and Health Care-Solutions People Want,” was an initiative from Ashoka’s Changemakers. There were 10 finalists – I blogged about them last month – and three winners were chosen by online votes.A disruptive innovation must be an innovative solution to a problem and it has offer a technology, process or business model that changes the way that products or services are currently available. This can be either by making it more affordable or simpler to use. The potential change caused by such innovations is so dramatic that eventually, the original model is replaced, or ’disrupted.’

The winners of the $5,000 USD grant for “Disruptive Innovations in Health and Health Care-Solutions People Want,” competition are:

Project ECHO: Knowledge Networks for the Treatment of Complex Diseases in Remote, Rural, Underserved Communities (University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center). Using telemedicine and the Internet, specialists and primary care providers co-manage patient populations with chronic diseases in rural areas, as well as other underserved communities across New Mexico.

Family Coaching Clinics: A New Model of Preventive Mental Health Care (UCLA Semel Institute Global Center for Children and Families). Using the same principles as MinuteClinics and RediClinics, Family Coaching Clinics operate in accessible retail environments to make mental health services readily available to families before simple problems become more serious.

Instant Birth Control (Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/Willamette). Using Web tools and multi-media outreach, this 24/7 online program increases women’s access to reliable birth control, eliminating the need for in-person doctor visits for routine contraception and sexual health care.

Health care is an important issue to address. Bad health practices need to be tackled in the United States and in the world. But I do find interesting that from a window of three, the winners only operate in the United States. I find interesting that the HIV initiative that I blogged about did not even make it to the final three winners, considering that it is a very blatant problem in many African countries.

I have one remark for the organizers of the contest: I find very peculiar that the three winners from an online voting competition all serve the country with the highest rate of internet usage, the United States. I am not sure if this is really fair. Perhaps Changemakers should consider that many people that live in the BOP do not have access to the internet, and therefore cannot participate actively in a competition like this one. Because of the digital divide, there is a discrepancy in online voting type competitions. Until the digital divide is crossed maybe online voting is not the fairest way to award grants for projects like global health.