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VOL. 132 | NO. 44 | Thursday, March 2, 2017

MMDC Competition Winners Aim to Improve Medical District Efficiency

BY MICHAEL WADDELL, Special to The Daily News

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MedHaul and Sparco Projectpedia were the winning ideas from the recent Memphis Medical District Collaborative (MMDC) Operation Opportunity business plan competition, and the entrepreneurs behind the concepts will now work with EPIcenter to cultivate them into successful ventures.

Erica Plybeah’s startup MedHaul was one of two winners in the Memphis Medical District Collaborative’s recent Operation Opportunity business plan competition.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

The competition invited Memphis-based innovators, entrepreneurs and existing companies to help solve operational challenges within the supply chain of the Memphis Medical District, with the overall goal of strengthening purchasing and procurement relationships among small businesses and the major hospitals and universities in that area.

The MMDC, EPIcenter and U3 Advisors partnered on the competition; participating medical district institutions include St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital/ALSAC, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Regional One Health, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Baptist College of Health Sciences, Southern College of Optometry and Memphis Bioworks Foundation.

“In general, we were overwhelmed by the quality of ideas and applications,” said EPIcenter president Leslie Lynn Smith. “The winning companies really demonstrated what we were hoping to find by holding this competition – local innovators who can solve specific challenges within the medical district and deliver a local solution. When institutions with purchasing power like those in the medical district are able to choose local businesses as suppliers, the whole region benefits.”

MedHaul is envisioned as a shared-ride medical service to help health care providers achieve better continuity of care by providing innovative medical transportation solutions which, in turn, positively impact hospital metrics such as avoidable readmissions and length of stay.

The software application will help area institutions better manage transportation for patients. MedHaul’s holding company, Segue Medical Solutions, will also offer non-emergency transportation service for patients and consulting services in health information technology, health care quality and project management.

Erica Plybeah, MedHaul co-founder and clinical informatics project manager at Memphis Bioworks Foundation, wants to improve the patient experience at discharge. She initially looked at the experience from the perspective of a new mom leaving the hospital after giving birth and having to get into a potentially dirty cab to go home.

“That’s where I came up with the idea for a more quality transportation service,” Plybeah said. “One organization in the medical district stated that they didn’t have a way to manage their transportation, so that’s how the idea came about for the software application.”

The company’s biggest goal is transportation management.

Plybeah researched the area’s non-emergency transportation companies and found many are mom-and-pop shops with small fleets.

“There are actually a lot more of them than many health care providers think, but there isn’t really a way to manage all of them,” she said. “I wanted to create an application where these mom-and-pop providers still have a way to be competitive and still have a way to get business from St. Jude, Methodist, Regional One, or the area’s other health systems.”

Sparco Projectpedia is a new online project management tool that will assist institutions in managing burst staffing and supplier relationships. Unistar-Sparco Computers Inc., a nearly 20-year-old IT, hardware, software and development company, submitted the winning idea.

“This platform development for the health care market will give us an opportunity to expand our market into health care and grow our footprint in software development,” said Unistar-Sparco president SooTsong Lim. “By knowing their challenges, we came up with a solution that is customized to what they want and will make them more efficient.”

With burst staffing, medical institutions often need to hire people for a quick project or to organize volunteers quickly to provide support for fundraising initiatives or mailings.

“Dealing with projects and events, they needed a database that could talk to other databases in terms of projects and suppliers for charity events,” said Eduardo Perez, director of operations for Unistar-Sparco.

Each winner will be assigned to one or two medical district anchor organizations to help further develop their concepts, and EPIcenter will assist in providing valuable resources and mentoring.

“We’re thrilled to provide customized support to the winners, such as access to resources, business planning assistance, and connections to partners and mentors – all at their specific stage of business growth,” Smith said. “Our goal with coordinating this support, as with all of the programs within our entrepreneurial ecosystem, is to give these business owners and innovators the greatest chance of success and maximize the economic benefits to their customers.”

PROPERTY SALES 49 123 2,388
MORTGAGES 77 171 2,778
BUILDING PERMITS 174 284 6,352
BANKRUPTCIES 32 72 1,859