In 2020, NXTUS, a Wichita-based nonprofit which supports entrepreneurship and drives innovation in the region, approached Blue Health Initiatives, part of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, with an innovative idea to help provide solutions for community health challenges throughout Kansas. NXTUS knew it aligned with Blue Health Initiative’s mission to improve health outcomes and quality of life for Kansans.
A collaboration was formed and, together, these two nonprofits completed the first NXTSTAGE Community Health Pilot Competition in August 2021. The results were even better than expected; the pilot competition resulted in three current projects, four future projects, and 19 ongoing collaborations with startups to tackle state-wide health and economic growth challenges.
“We are thrilled we to support the innovative approaches these entrepreneurs are bringing to our state, and the community champions working to solve the big issues impacting their local communities who otherwise might not have the resources, opportunities or technology to get things done,” said Virginia Barnes, director of Blue Health Initiatives. “As the state’s largest commercial insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas is uniquely positioned to help improve the health of all Kansans.”
The positive impact created because of this program means many communities throughout Kansas now have the means to implement technology tools aimed at tackling key issues such as access to health care, seniors aging in place, child-care capacity, diabetes management and alleviating Kansans’ medical debt.
“All 12 finalists offered innovations that resonated with our future-minded pilot partners, and now their offerings are poised to change Kansas communities for the better,” said Mary Beth Jarvis, NXTUS executive director. “NXTSTAGE is all about helping Kansas organizations see the value of innovation and try out promising technologies to achieve key goals, which in this case are to foster healthier Kansans and help our communities grow.”
The Community Health & Vibrancy competition attracted 126 competitors from 28 states and 15 countries and had very diverse applicants and finalists; more than 80 percent had ethnic minority and/or female founders.
NXTUS will continue to run the NXTSTAGE Pilot Competition program at least two times per year, focused on various sectors. It is likely, based on the success of this year’s program and with continued interest from participating partners, that community health will continue to be a primary focus of the NXTSTAGE Pilot Competitions.
To find out more about the competing startups and community health partners, visit the NXTUS website.