NOLABA Launches Health Innovators Challenge
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and Ochsner Health System Seek Solutions to Improve Diabetes Care

Nov. 16, 2017

NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA) joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, Ochsner Health System and the City of New Orleans today to launch the inaugural NOLA Health Innovators Challenge (NOLAHI) at the New Orleans Jazz Market.

NOLAHI is a groundbreaking initiative designed to connect the city’s leading local healthcare stakeholders with the best high-growth startups by encouraging entrepreneurs to submit digital health solutions to any of three challenge statements submitted by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and Ochsner Health System, Tulane Health System and Lafayette General Foundation. NOLABA’s vision is for these connections to accelerate business activity in New Orleans and empower innovators and investors to leverage New Orleans’ unique and growing health tech ecosystem to solve critical health challenges.

NOLAHI is powered by MedStartr technology, a leader in enabling healthcare crowd challenges. The deadline to submit custom solutions at is Jan. 15, 2018. Then, industry experts will review the applications, and the MedStartr platform will analyze applicants on more than 100 metrics, including product-market fit. People interested in healthcare innovation can also vote for their favorite startup solutions by visiting the NOLAHI website and joining the online community.

The challenge will culminate at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) in March 2018 when finalists will pitch their tailor-made solutions. Selected finalist(s) are eligible to receive a cash prize of up to $36,000, as well as the opportunity to receive in-kind prizes, such as free co-working space, a spot on a startup accelerator program, and more items, subject to availability.

“NOLAHI is another proof point that economic development matters because people matter,” said NOLABA President & CEO Quentin L. Messer, Jr. “More than the promise of attracting the most creative digital health companies to New Orleans, NOLAHI’s potential to transform health outcomes of patients throughout the state is why NOLABA is so honored to be a part of this initiative.  Economic growth can and must positively impact lives. With our partners, collectively, New Orleans and all of Louisiana are taking a large step to ensure positive impact reaches more of our friends and neighbors through healthcare innovation.”

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and Ochsner posed a joint diabetes care challenge. Diabetes is among the leading causes of death in Louisiana.  In 2000, 6.6 percent of Louisiana adults had diabetes, which rose to 11.6 percent by 2013, according to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS, 2013).

“Our mission at Blue Cross is ‘to improve the health and lives of Louisianians,’ and in keeping with that, we are proud to partner with Ochsner and the New Orleans Business Alliance to be part of the NOLA Health Innovators Challenge,” said Dr. Vindell Washington, chief medical officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. “We are excited about the potential for digital health solutions that will engage and empower patients while leading to more effective information sharing among payers and providers.” 

“At Ochsner Health System, innovation is part of our mission and we believe in the power of innovation, entrepreneurship and new thinking to lead to better health outcomes in our communities,” said Aimee Quirk, Chief Executive Officer, innovationOchsner. “Diabetes is a major concern in the communities we serve and we will continue to seek out and implement innovative new ways to care for our patients so they can live their best lives.  Through NOLAHI, we, together with our partner Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, have a unique opportunity to engage some of the brightest and most creative minds to work alongside us to improve our region’s health.”

To read their full challenge statement, visit

Tulane Health System’s challenge statement focuses on patient navigation, and the Lafayette General Foundation is seeking digital health solutions around interoperability.

Rebecca Conwell, Senior Advisor for Economic Development to Mayor Mitch Landrieu, said NOLAHI is an example of New Orleans’ incredible strides in healthcare innovation.

“This challenge allows us to leverage New Orleans’ emerging digital tech industry with the priority of being a health innovation hub,” Conwell said. “We’re bringing the two together now in a way that allows us to put together all of our talents.”

NOLABA thanks its other partners supporting NOLAHI: Stone Pigman Walther Wittman LLC, Capital One, LookFar, Propeller and The Warehouse.

About the New Orleans Business Alliance:

A public-private partnership between the business community and city government, the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA) is the official economic development organization for the city of New Orleans. It was formed in 2010 at the behest of Mayor Mitch Landrieu and a coalition of business and civic leaders to employ the best practices in economic development to reposition New Orleans as the ideal intersection of commerce and culture. Its 17-member Board comprises a cross-section of New Orleans leaders, including Mayor Mitch Landrieu and business professionals from varied industries. NOLABA earned Accredited Economic Development Organization status from the International Economic Development Council in April 2017. Visit for more information.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana:

 Founded in New Orleans in 1934, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is a private, fully taxed mutual company, owned by policyholders—not shareholders. It is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and is governed by a Louisiana Board of Directors.

The company and its subsidiaries provide group and individual health insurance plans, life and disability insurance, group voluntary products and administrative services to Louisiana residents. With headquarters in Baton Rouge and eight district offices around the state, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to improving the lives of its customers by providing them with health guidance and affordable access to quality care. Learn more on the company’s website at or visit its social media hub to connect via Facebook, Twitter and more.

About Ochsner Health System:

Ochsner Health System is Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic, healthcare system. Driven by a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate, coordinated clinical and hospital patient care is provided across the region by Ochsner's 30 owned, managed and affiliated hospitals and more than 80 health centers and urgent care centers. Ochsner is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Hospital” across four specialty categories caring for patients from all 50 states and more than 80 countries worldwide each year. Ochsner employs more than 18,000 employees and over 1,100 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties, and conducts more than 600 clinical research studies. Ochsner Health System is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.