November 13, 2020

Our 2017 Innovator Cohort

At Innovations in Healthcare, we believe that the right answers to a lot of the most vexing problems in healthcare delivery are already out there. Our job is to identify and amplify healthcare innovation around the world.

The seven new innovators in our 2017 Innovations in Healthcare cohort are aiming to tackle global problems with simple solutions. While they all have different approaches, the end goal for many is the same: to enhance primary care in areas with poor health outcomes and limited resources. In selecting our 2017 Innovator Cohort, we found that these top organizations illustrate two broad ideas in healthcare:

Shifting from Treatment to Prevention

Health Builders aims to reform inefficient management, build infrastructure, and incorporate technology to enhance primary care servicesfor over two million people in Rwanda. Health Builders facilitates local communities building their own infrastructure so that people can be better served and rural communities can gain the capacity to function as independent enterprises. Health Builders constructs “health centers” for every 25,000 people, and then donates the ownership of the health centers to the government of Rwanda.1 Their goal is to create sustainable local health centers and build revenue-generating systems around the implemented technologies. This both expands and improves primary health care services where they  did not exist before.

Access to resources is not the only deterrent to direct and efficient primary health care. Many established health care systems lack efficiency and organization. AllizHealth is a for-profit venture that mediates this issue by letting patients monitor their own health. AllizHealth digitizes medical record and health data and helps to mitigate risk by compiling and organizing all health-related data: providing tools, trackers, and management for weight, diabetes, and overall wellness. The health assessments store all drug information, vaccinations, and patient and parent history. Implementing mobile application technology, AllizHealth aims to move from curative medicine to preventative medicine, keeping patients informed and interested in their own health. AllizHealth currently acts as a health management platform for more than 600,000 users.2

The importance of accessible resources and efficient care is evident. However, the price of satisfactory primary health care cannot be overlooked. CXA Group is working to create opportunities to improve health care expenditures by reconstructing corporate insurance and healthcare expenses into a benefits and wellness program that allows employees to take control of their own health, select benefits that are best suited to their lifestyles, and get rewarded for pursuing healthier living. Companies that choose to broker CXA Group seek to improve their workers’ health and thus, reduce healthcare costs, shifting employee benefits from treatment to prevention.3

In Mexico, Salud Cercana tackles a similar problem outside of the workplace. Salud Cercana employs micro and community health insurance and has become Mexico's first pre-paid primary health plan for low- and middle-income residents. Salud Cercana uses a voucher system in which a person pays USD $15-20 upfront, and receives USD $60 worth of vouchers in healthcare per month, with additional micro-insurance for emergency cardiac episodes.4 Additionally, like many of the other Innovators in this year’s cohort, they aim to expand usage of technology (mHealth applications) that increase patient-provider communication without the time and cost of a traditional doctor’s visit. Using Mexico’s first digital platform for healthcare, Salud Cercana works toward their mission of creating healthy communities by enhancing primary healthcare.

Putting the Community in the Driver’s Seat

In regions like West Bengal, access to resources, including access to a physician, is extremely limited. In fact, 78% of the Indian population lives in rural areas, but only 2% of medical professionals are working in these regions.5 iKure seeks to minimize the effects of this reality. iKure is a for-profit, health-focused social enterprise that uses new technology to provide accessible and affordable primary health care and preventative services to the West Bengal region of India. They have developed software called Wireless Health Incident Monitoring System (WHIMS) which allows for an extensive monitoring process of prescriptions, appointment attendance, pharmacy stock, and other critical aspects of effective primary health care. iKure implements health outreach initiatives, skills development, and technology intervention in order to improve a health provider's ability to diagnose and treat patients, and connects patients with physicians digitally when a traditional doctor’s visit is not possible.6

Mali resembles West Bengal in its limited access to resources and overall lack of quality healthcare services. Additionally, Mali has one of the highest rates of maternal and child mortality in the world. Muso aims to increase access to resources with the goal of eliminating preventable deaths and ultimately reducing mortality rates in Mali. Muso strives to treat every patient within 72 hours by working proactively. This includes using community health workers to provide doorstep care and rapid-access clinics. In three years, Muso has reduced the child mortality rate in Mali from 15.5% to 1.7% in their area of operations.7

Lastly, our partnership with Solar Ear addresses one of the highest demands in primary health care. Seven percent of the world’s population experiences some level of hearing loss. Worldwide, 642 million people need hearing aids and 400 million of those who need them are living in developing countries. Although this is a significant problem, only 10 million hearing aids are produced each year.8 Solar Ear has executed a program called DREET (Detection, Research, Education, Equipment and Training) which uses the newest and lowest cost technology of hearing aids, all of which are powered by solar energy and are thus rechargeable for no cost at all. Solar Ear manufactures these hearing aids with a workforce of individuals who are deaf, aspiring to democratize and socialize the hearing aid industry in order to lower hearing loss and eventually impact education and break cycles of poverty worldwide.

We are so thrilled to welcome all of these innovators into our network. Learn more about these organizations at our upcoming Annual Forum in Washington, DC, March 20 - 21.  For more information on this invitation-only event, contact Kellie Auman at

Image:  Health Builders