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New Competition Seeks Disruptive Innovations in Health and Health Care

Submitted by: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Categories: Corporate Social Responsibility, Philanthropy & Corporate Contributions

Posted: May 08, 2007 – 11:26 AM EST


$5 Million Available to Support Ideas That Transform Markets, Empower Consumers

May 08 /CSRwire/ - PRINCETON, NJ- May 8, 2007- A competition has launched to find disruptive innovations that could dramatically reshape the health and health care marketplace. The online competition, “Disruptive Innovations in Health and Health Care—Solutions People Want,” is sponsored by the Pioneer Portfolio of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and uses a unique open source competition model developed by Changemakers, an initiative of Ashoka that promotes enterprising solutions to social problems.

The "Disruptive Innovations" competition, which runs through July 18, expects to attract entrepreneurs from within and outside of the health care field whose ideas might lead to new services, tools and choices that consumers want—but are currently out of reach because of cost, complexity, or because the right idea hasn't surfaced. Examples of disruptive innovations that are already transforming health care are home glucose monitors that give diabetics the ability and convenience to get blood glucose readings in seconds in the convenience and comfort of their own homes; and walk-in health clinics in retail stores that enable patients to quickly see skilled nurse practitioners and physician assistants, who diagnose and treat common conditions at lower costs than typical doctor visits.

Twelve competition finalists will be selected by a distinguished panel of judges, including: Margaret Laws, director of the California HealthCare Foundation’s Innovations for the Underserved program; Jason Hwang, Harvard Business School Fellow, Innosight; and RWJF Senior Program Officer Nancy Barrand. Changemakers’s global network of social entrepreneurs then will vote on the competition Web site ( for three winners, who each will receive a $5,000 cash prize from Changemakers. In addition, RWJF’s Pioneer Portfolio will review competition entries and may award up to $5 million to support projects with potential for the greatest impact.

"We are challenging enterprising thinkers to consider how shifts or changes in the marketplace can help consumers manage their health and health care how they want to, where they want to, when they want to," said Barrand. "Changemakers’s open-source competition model provides RWJF with a transparent, interactive way to engage a vast network of entrepreneurs in finding solutions that make sense to consumers and respond to what they value."

This is the second in a series of idea competitions co-sponsored by RWJF and Changemakers. The unique competition model attracts solutions from social entrepreneurs from the U.S. and around the globe. Innovators submit their ideas online and the Changemakers community provides feedback on the problem and proposed solutions throughout the life of the competition. This interactive process is designed not only to catalyze action on important issues but also to connect participants’ solutions with key decision-makers, investors, and health and social service providers.

"RWJF is leading the way in using the Changemakers platform as a tool for surfacing diverse approaches that can point toward comprehensive health care solutions," according to Charlie Brown, Changemakers’s executive director. "Our collaborative series of competitions promises to forge wider, stronger communities of practice that will take solutions to scale at unprecedented rates."

"Disruptive innovation," a term coined by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, describes a technology, process, or business model that enables more consumers in the market to afford and/or have the ability to use a product or service. The change caused by such an innovation is so big that it eventually replaces, or disrupts, the established approach to providing that product or service.

In the health and health care arena, services historically have been designed and delivered with providers' needs in mind. They also tend to be procedure-oriented, treating patients more as passive recipients than engaged participants in the care process. Recasting patients as consumers puts them in an active role and challenges the system to meet consumers’ interests in managing their health and health care in ways that are more affordable, more accessible, simpler, and more convenient.

The Disruptive Innovations competition is the second in a series of three competitions the Pioneer Portfolio is undertaking with Changemakers to find cutting-edge solutions to some of the most pressing health and health care challenges in the U.S. The first competition on ending domestic violence attracted nearly 250 submissions. The third competition begins in June and looks to stimulate innovations in how computer and video gaming can improve health and health care.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change.

The Foundation's Pioneer Portfolio supports innovative ideas and projects that may trigger important breakthroughs in health and health care. Projects in the Pioneer Portfolio are typically future-oriented and look beyond conventional thinking to explore solutions at the cutting edge of health and health care.

For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves.

When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit

Changemakers is an initiative of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. Changemakers focuses on the rapidly growing world of social innovation. It provides solutions and resources needed to help everyone become a changemaker and presents compelling stories that explore the fundamental principles of successful social innovation around the world.

Changemakers is building the world's first global online "open source" community that competes to surface the best social solutions, and then collaborates to refine, enrich, and implement those solutions. Changemakers begins by providing an overarching intellectual framework for collaborative competitions that bring together individual social change initiatives into a more powerful whole. For details on the competition, visit

For more information, please contact:

Liz Wainger For Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Phone: 301-340-6831


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