PHRQL a Finalist in $100K Data Design Diabetes Challenge-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, May 24, 2013

PHRQL a Finalist in $100K Data Design Diabetes Challenge

Diabetes affects 8.3% of the U.S. population and cost the country $245 billion in 2012 according to statistics by Fast Company. With entrepreneurs and health professionals tackling the issue from every perceivable angle, PRHQL, a startup spun out of Carnegie Mellon University in 2011 is hoping the answer to diabetes management lies in a data-driven approach. PHRQL is currently vying for a $100,000 prize as a finalist in the 2013 Data Design Diabetes Challenge sponsored by pharmaceutical company, Sanofi US.

PHRQL, which stands for Personal Health Recording for Quality of Life (pronounced freckle) is a software development firm based in Pittsburgh, Penn. founded by Tepper School alum, Paul Sandberg, and CMU Silicon Valley (CMU-SV) Software Management program alumni, Kumaril Bhattacharya. Their user-friendly and evidence-based application, Connect & Coach, enables pharmacists and dieticians in retail grocery, pharmacy and hospital settings to perform Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) and Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT).

Kumaril, who graduated from CMU-SV in 2009, spent the second year of his part-time Software Management program working with a team on a mobile application for juvenile diabetes in the Enterprise Innovation class. As CMU-SV Professor Stuart Evans noted, “it was clear Kumaril had a passion for the domain and enthusiastically drove the team to develop a prototype during the same time PHRQL was hatching in Pittsburgh.” After graduating during the early stages of PHRQL, Evans connected Kumaril to his co-founder at the Tepper School. “Back then, they didn’t have a person with a mobile focus and enterprise software experience, so we all linked up,” Kumaril. “We’ve made tremendous amounts of progress since then.”

“Our mission from the very beginning has been to improve the quality, cost and effectiveness of healthcare delivery,” says CEO Sandberg. “Our core belief is that open and accessible data can make healthcare better for everyone,” adds Kumaril.

PHRQL’s team explains that those innovating in the healthcare space also have to decide what to do with the data: “What matters for healthcare professionals at the end of the day is evidence and outcomes,” Kumaril explains. “So we took a software based on evidence – or data – and made sure it produced outcomes both for the population and for business owners’ bottom line.”

The healthcare world is quickly catching on to PHRQL’s take on providing a solution to the diabetes management. PHRQL is one of five finalists in Sanofi US’s 2013 Data Design Diabetes Challenge and will demo their product in front of judges at the Health Datapalooza IV in Washington D.C. on June 3. The winner will be announced the following day.

Already PHRQL’s involvement in the competition has garnered several features in the Pittsburgh Business Times and yielded interest from more than 18 retail grocery stores to implement their software. The startup contracted with the Giant Eagle supermarket chain headquartered in Pittsburgh last year and has since seen more than 5000 counseling sessions between dieticians and shoppers conducted using Connect & Coach.

As the PHRQL team fine tunes the PHRQL product and pitch in preparation for Health Datapalooza with the rest of the team, CMU-SV alum Kumaril reflects on his experience in Silicon Valley and its impact on his current work: “When I first came here in 2009, I was a naïve student that just wanted to do something good. This program and its faculty taught me the entire business side of innovation to add to my engineering knowledge. I can’t say enough how much the practical business advice I received has helped me co-found a startup that we hope will have a real impact on healthcare.”

See a demo of Connect & Coach.

*Update 6/4/13: Connect & Coach is the 2013 winner of the $100K Data Design Diabetes Challenge!

Pictured above (from left): Professor Stuart Evans, Kumaril Bhattacharya, Professor Gladys Mercier