A Celebratory Conversation with the Winner of the Lyfebulb and CVS Kidney Care Innovation Challenge

August 30, 2022

A Celebratory Conversation with the Winner of the Lyfebulb and CVS Kidney Care Innovation Challenge

This is the Lyfebulb CVS kidney care innovation challenge fireside chat. This innovation challenge highlighted the sparking of innovation and care to improve quality of life with people with kidney disease. Significant inequalities exist in kidney care and poor prognosis from the diagnosis point as well as transplant access – the gold standard for care – are common. Patient education for those living with kidney disease remains scant and spotty.

This panel includes Dr. Jesse Roach, a key thought leader representing nephrology at CVS kidney care, Jennifer Miller, an executive in CVS kidney care and a judge of the challenge, the winner, Dalton Shaull, CEO of Omni Life, as well as honorable mention, Sharron Rouse, who developed Kindness for Kidneys, a movement aimed at improving education and equity for kidney warriors.

CVS sponsored this innovation challenge to highlight healthcare inequality in the United States. 35% of people with renal end stage disease are BIPOC. They are 1.3 times more likely to develop kidney disease and 40% less likely to receive a transplant or home dialysis. Some inequalities are due to social determinants of health, like diminished access to technology. Finalists were chosen whose innovations support underserved communities and assist patients find resources and improve their care. 

The leaders of each company are personally associated with kidney disease. They are either patients or care partner – for them, the commitment is personal. There were ten wonderful finalists, all of whom represented diverse solutions to address diagnostic, treatment, and support issues. They were asked, how each innovation addresses an unmet need while proving market feasibility and proof of concept.

OmniLife, the challenge winner, is a care provider collaboration tool designed to improve patient care in transplantation and organ failure. It leverages the provider network to increase access to transplant. A clinical decision support tool that analyzes how centers are evaluating patients for transplant is included. This care coordination tool also includes mobile access to track where a patient is at in their journey. 

With the monetary award, OmniLife plans to release a patient referral app. Understanding the organ review process is vital to patient transparency in the care continuum, educating patients on how, and by whom, organ offer decisions are made. In transplantation, there is a surgeon-led intake service that reviews the kidney offer. This software would assist how AI and data is leveraged to optimize kidney allocation decisions. Additionally, in the evaluation and listing process, this transparency ensures that patients with the greatest need are at first in line. 

The honorable mention winner, Sharron Rouse, is a kidney transplant recipient who publicly shares her transplant experience. During her transplant process she saw a need for greater community connectedness to expand conversation with others. On her fifth kidney anniversary, she founded Kindness for Kidneys, whose goals are providing education, resources, encouragement, and empowerment so patients can actively partner with their healthcare teams. 

CVS strives to put the patients’ needs first and meeting the patient where they are. There can be wonderful solutions to patients’ needs but, if those solutions never reach the patients; it’s an exercise in futility. Initial evaluative efforts shone a light on those innovations with the greatest potential to increase connectedness. Within this award process, there were so many connections made within finalists. No one person or organization knows it all; it takes team-based approaches and collaborative thinking to ensure innovation and representation. That is how equitable healthcare becomes possible for everyone.