I first met Pronoy Saha about three years ago after making the painful trek (during rush hour) from Marin in the SF Bay Area’s “North Bay” to Palo Alto in the “South Bay” to attend a Meet-Up called the Health Technology Forum.  At the time, I was making a conscious effort to transition out of the world I had been working in for the past 15 years – the world of health insurance, health plans, and managed care –  and into the nascent, but effervescent arena of digital (or mobile) health.

After attending a number of meetings and getting to know Pronoy well enough to complain, I started to whine about the white-knuckle, bumper-to-bumper drive and asking if he couldn’t hold a just a few meetings in San Francisco instead.  It turns out I wasn’t the only one making the request and eventually Pronoy was able to hold every other meeting at the San Francisco offices of Pillsbury Law, a welcome venue change for those of us in the northern part of the Bay Area.

Fast forward to today.  The Health Techology Forum now has 4500 members with 13 chapters in 5 different countries:  San Francisco, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Diego, New York City, Atlanta, Washington DC, Austin, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver, London, Bangalore, and Manila.  They have held close to 100 events world-wide, and some of them, like the upcoming Innovation Conference have become “must attend” events in the health tech space.


A Chat on TDWI Radio

I had a chance to chat with Pronoy on my radio show today, so I asked him about his passion.  He said he wanted to use technology to drive improved access to health care globally.  He used his personal experiences living in a 3rd world country for his first 21 years combined with his 20+ years of experience in the US working in technology.  He believed that applying technology to the health care domain could improve care for the underserved.

He felt if he could create a platform that would marry clinicians with researchers and technologists, the service providers and entrepreneurs would also come to innovate.  This past weekend, the Health Technology Forum organized a Hackathon that did just that in the difficult but critically important arena of Mental Health.  I had a chance to attend as a judge.  Even though it was Mothers Day Weekend, there were 11 teams competing for the $15,000 prize and a chance to incubate at San Francisco General Hospital

Here are the winning teams:


1st Place Winners: Only One

Raj Manickam, Deepesh Kurupath, Julie Price, Rhonda Shrader, Jean-Ezra Yeung

Conceived and developed entirely during the Code-a-thon, Only One is a fun, functioning mobile app to pre-screen adolescents for depression/anxiety. Screening is required under the Affordable Care Act, but can get overlooked because of time/cost constraints.  Now, teens can use their own words to respond to scenarios mapping directly to a widely-used, validated manual screening tool (PHQ-9).  The app uses natural language processing to score responses and provide an instant flag to pediatricians (email, portal or QR code) so that precious time during annual wellness visits is maximized.
2nd Place Winners: Living Mentally Well
Kevin Hines, Arthur Klein, Ryan Prince, Jacob Sauage, Doug Marks
The Main ingredients making the LIVING MENTALLY WELL APP are unique because it was fully motivated by the personal experiences of  Kevin Hines who suffers who a serious mental illness and had jumped of the Golden Gate Bridge only to survive. Ever since he  has followed these 10steps included in the app to keep him stable mentally most days. Through the app, if your Personal health/mental heath is in danger, the doctor of family gets automatic voluntary updates about the progression of mental health  as part of the personal protector contacts initiative. The app allows one to check in to make sure patient stays safe and reconnects to make sure regimented 10 steps is followed. If not it lets the patient schedule an appointment to go over strategy an goals.This technology can have an impact on a wide range of people
3rd Place Winners : Happy Friends
Jean Rintoul, Angelo Hizon, Vincent Fang, Dickson Tam, Deborah Paterson
Happy Friends is gamified emotional intelligence for autistic kids. Imagine being able to break down the wall between the autistic child and the caretaker allowing happier relationships for all involved. Happy Friends leverages innovations in wearable biosensors with our custom engineered game to enable communication with the autistic child. We collect analytics on the child’s preferences opening up new levels to your relationship with your child.
4th Place Winners: Care Connect
Ranjana Saxena, Rajeev Saxena, Rohan Saxena
CareConnect is a Mobile Patient Portal with engagement tools chat, audio/video messages and live conferencing. It allows for effective screening followed by cost-effective treatment action and ensures follow up for compliance through customized notifications and reminders. 
  • Honorable Mention  – MoodLearner (Judith Mayer) – A personalize exercise routine based on geolocation.
  • Honorable Mention for Serving a Vulnerable Population-  CareByte (Jenny Liu)  – A communication platform for patients with Schizophrenia
  •  Honorable Mention for Best Inspiration –  Dance4Healing, Amy Li


A Few Words about the Health Technology Forum “Innovation Conference.”

Before I close, a few words about the upcoming Health Technology Forum “Innovation Conference.”  The theme is “Pathways to Sustainable Health.”  There are more than 75 speakers including keynoter, Dean Ornish MD of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute at UCSF; Stefano Bertozzi, MD, PhD, Dean of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health; Geoffrey Clapp, CEO of Better, and Eric Bing, Director, Global Health at George W. Bush Institute [I am reading his new book, Pharmacy on a Bicycle, right now.]   To read about more speakers click here and to see the agenda here.

An added bonus of attending this interesting conference is that all of the competitors in the Hackathon (described above) are invited to attend and the top four winners will be demo’ing at the meeting.  Fun.

To hear all of this in Pronoy’s own words, click here – enjoy!



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