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CHCF Makes Second Investment in Asthmapolis

The California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) today announced a second investment in Asthmapolis, the FDA-cleared mobile health solution designed to improve the care of people with asthma and COPD, advance understanding of symptoms and triggers, and help them achieve control of these diseases.

Asthmapolis uses a novel combination of smartphone applications and snap-on inhaler sensors that track when and how often patients use inhaled medications. The platform, available in both English and Spanish, is designed to help individuals with their daily preventive medications, manage asthma by revealing insights about their use of rescue medications, and provide personalized feedback to improve their ability to successfully manage the disease.

Users receive ongoing educational outreach through email, text, mobile apps, and phone calls with a certified asthma educator. People may also opt to share information about their medication use with their health care provider, giving them the ability to monitor whether their treatment is truly controlling symptoms.

“Knowledge is power,” said Margaret Laws, director of the CHCF Innovations for the Underserved program, which manages the CHCF Health Innovation Fund. “And Asthmapolis empowers people with asthma or COPD and their medical team to harness knowledge for better self-care and treatment.”

“We need patients to tell us about the severity of their symptoms, how often they have sudden attacks, and what triggers their attacks so we can modify their treatment plans accordingly,” said Dr. Rajan Merchant, an allergy, asthma, and clinical immunology specialist at Dignity Health. “With the Asthmapolis sensor and software application the patient’s inhaler becomes a diary — recording, analyzing, and reporting data in real time — which helps providers monitor their patients and helps patients practice informed self-management.”

Since receiving FDA clearance in July 2012, Asthmapolis has launched care coordination programs with payers such as Amerigroup Florida/WellPoint, providers such as Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in New York and Dignity Health in California, and retail pharmacy and public sector initiatives through the City of Louisville.

The CHCF investment in Asthmapolis, which now totals $1,047,000, is directed at helping to serve the underserved in California. “We are pleased that Asthmapolis has developed a low-cost solution that can provide patients with education through email, text, mobile apps, and personalized outreach by certified asthma educators,” Laws said. “We believe there is tremendous potential for patients to benefit from technology that empowers them to better understand and manage chronic conditions.”

“We look forward to working with CHCF on our joint mission to bring better health to communities across California,” said David Van Sickle, CEO and co-founder of Asthmapolis. “With effort and enthusiasm we are together turning the corner on respiratory disease among these populations and closing the gaps in asthma care that have raised costs and led to millions of days of preventable suffering.”

About Asthmapolis

Founded in 2010, Asthmapolis aims to improve the management of chronic respiratory disease for patients and health care professionals. Backed by the California HealthCare Foundation and other investors, Asthmapolis is now working with organizations like Dignity Health to demonstrate how mobile technology can empower patients, improve health, and lower health care costs. For more information, visit

About the California HealthCare Foundation

The California HealthCare Foundation works as a catalyst to fulfill the promise of better health care for all Californians. The CHCF Health Innovation Fund supports entrepreneurs with businesses that have the potential to significantly lower the cost of care or improve access to care. To learn more about the Innovation Fund and our current investments, visit

June 12, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 5 blogs containing over 11,000 articles with John having written over 5500 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 18 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

California HealthCare Foundation President Mark Smith to Step Down

Founding leader of Oakland philanthropy will depart in late 2013

Dr. Mark D. Smith, who has led the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) since its founding, plans to step down as president and CEO at the end of year, the foundation announced today.

“It has been a great honor to lead the California HealthCare Foundation in its mission to improve the quality of health care for all Californians,” Smith said. “I leave the foundation knowing it is well positioned to continue this important work.”

During his tenure, Smith focused CHCF on catalyzing efforts to improve health care quality, promote greater access, and reduce the cost of care for the state’s most vulnerable and underserved residents. The Oakland-based philanthropy makes grants totaling approximately $37 million annually from a fund of $700 million. CHCF has granted over $500 million since Smith became the founding president and CEO in 1996.

“Mark Smith’s remarkable leadership over the last 16 years has focused the California HealthCare Foundation on a vision to improve the health care system where it matters most: in the clinics, the hospitals, doctors’ offices, and wherever Californians go to find care,” said Ian Morrison, PhD, chair of the CHCF Board of Directors. “While he recognized that the problems in health care are huge, Mark and his team were smart and innovative in targeting the foundation’s resources where they could most make a difference.”

Smith, 61, a physician and expert on state and national health policy, will continue his work as a member of the clinical faculty at the University of California, San Francisco, and as an attending physician at the Positive Health Program for AIDS care at San Francisco General Hospital, where he has practiced since 1992, including during his tenure at CHCF.

Under Smith’s leadership, CHCF focused on improving the way health care is delivered and financed in California through a number of initiatives, including:

Promoting research and policy analysis. From its founding, CHCF has supported sound decisionmaking using evidenced-based research and nonpartisan policy analysis. CHCF has become a prolific publisher on issues of quality, access, and the financing of care covering both the commercial and public sectors.

Promoting transparency. The foundation has made significant investments in supporting transparency in health care delivery through publicly reporting quality data on hospitals, nursing homes, and long term care facilities, and building public websites that allow consumers to compare local facilities and provide health care leaders with benchmarks for improvement.

Improving clinical care. Smith focused attention on innovative ways to improve care delivery, including being an early proponent of using information technology at the point of care, challenging providers to deliver high-quality and cost-effective care, and promoting disruptive innovations like retail clinics and process redesign. He has also championed redefining the scope of work among clinical team members, to help ameliorate the need to train more doctors to do work that lower-cost members of the clinical team can deliver safely and effectively.

Training new leaders. The foundation initiated the CHCF Health Care Leadership Program at UC San Francisco in 2001. The two-year, part-time fellowship has trained 355 clinicians in management and leadership skills required to lead the state’s health care institutions in a rapidly changing and challenging environment. The program’s alumni now occupy leading positions in hospitals, clinics, medical groups, and government throughout the state.

Fostering innovation. The $10 million CHCF Health Innovation Fund helps accelerate innovation in care delivery by investing in new and emerging companies focused on lowering costs and improving access to care. While supporting improvements to the health delivery system, CHCF also has focused on the rise of alternative care delivery models such as retail clinics and the adoption and effective use of information technology.

Modernizing enrollment. CHCF has been a leader in promoting more efficient and consumer-friendly ways for eligible Californians to enroll in public programs. In 1999 the foundation supported the development of the first web-based eligibility and enrollment application in the United States, which it licensed at no cost to the State of California. More recently CHCF led the successful national public-private development of a first-class user experience design to streamline enrollment under the Affordable Care Act (C. The foundation has also recently focused on supporting the implementation of the ACA in California, and continues to monitor and report on its progress.

Supporting health care reporting. Recognizing the important role that the media has in promoting improvements in health care, CHCF has devoted significant resources to supporting health care journalism. Since 1998, the foundation has produced California Healthline, a daily digest of news, analysis, and opinion on the state’s health care system. In 2009, the foundation established the CHCF Center for Health Reporting at the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, which collaborates with media across the state on in-depth, explanatory journalism on critical health care issues.

“Mark has built a strong staff that is set on a steady course, focusing on the medical delivery and financing systems in California, with an emphasis on quality improvement, increasing both access and efficiency, and addressing the unsustainable cost of care to individuals and society,” Morrison said. “The board expects the foundation to continue building on its successes in these areas.”

“There is still a lot of work to be done. While I will assist the board and staff in making a smooth transition to a new leader, I will also continue to look for ways to make our health care system work better for the people of California,” Smith said.

A native of New York City, Smith earned his bachelor’s degree in Afro-American studies at Harvard (1979), his medical doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1983), and a master’s in business administration with a concentration in health care administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (1989).

Prior to joining CHCF, Smith was executive vice president at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. He previously served as associate director of the AIDS Service and assistant professor of medicine and of health policy and management at Johns Hopkins University. He has served on the board of the National Business Group on Health, the performance measurement committee of the National Committee for Quality Assurance, and the editorial board of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

He was elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences in 2001 and recently completed service as the chair of an IOM committee on “The Learning Health Care System in America,” which issued its report Best Care at Lower Cost in September 2012.

Smith will continue serving as CHCF’s president and CEO until a new leader is in place, which is expected by the end of 2013. The search for Smith’s successor will be conducted by the foundation’s board of directors. Inquiries should be directed to Carol Emmott of Russell Reynolds Associates at or 415-352-3363.

About the California HealthCare Foundation

The California HealthCare Foundation works as a catalyst to fulfill the promise of better health care for all Californians. We support ideas and innovations that improve quality, increase efficiency, and lower the costs of care.

February 1, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 5 blogs containing over 11,000 articles with John having written over 5500 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 18 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Healthbox Announces Strategic Partners, Opening of Applications

Leading Healthcare Organizations to Provide Early Support to Healthcare Startups

CHICAGO, August 2011 – Healthbox, a business accelerator for healthcare startups that was introduced by Sandbox Industries in May, today unveiled a diverse group of healthcare organizations as strategic partners. Additionally, Healthbox launched its website and simultaneously opened applications to the program, set to begin in Chicago in January 2012.

Healthbox strategic partners represent national players in the provider, payer, investor and retail spaces. They include BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, Walgreens, Ridgeview Medical Center, the California HealthCare Foundation, Merrick Ventures, and a number of successful healthcare investors and entrepreneurs. Strategic partners will provide Healthbox participants with invaluable mentorship, guidance, beta site testing, and access to their broad customer bases.

“We are thrilled to partner with Healthbox on this exciting endeavor,” said Paul Brown, Managing Director of BlueCross BlueShield Ventures I and II. “We see the program as a valuable conduit into the next generation of healthcare startups that are bringing innovative solutions to the marketplace.”

The Healthbox website also launched today with further details about the program.  Each of the 10 participants will receive $50,000 in seed capital and access to a broad group of mentors, including industry visionaries, leading investors, and successful entrepreneurs.  The 3-month program will be hosted in a collaborative workspace in Chicago from January to April of next year.

“Given the dynamics of the industry, building a healthcare technology startup poses a lot of challenges,” said Sandbox Managing Director Nina Nashif, who founded Healthbox. “The market needs a platform that provides critical support for early-stage healthcare companies that are not yet ready for venture capital.”

Healthbox is now accepting applications, which will remain open on the website for approximately eight weeks. Additionally, Healthbox leaders and mentors will host networking events in September and October in key cities around the country – including San Francisco, San Diego, Minneapolis, Nashville, Boston, New York City and Chicago – in order to promote the program and encourage applications.

For additional information about the Healthbox program, applications and upcoming events, visit

About Sandbox Industries

Chicago-based Sandbox Industries is the exclusive fund manager for BlueCross BlueShield Venture Fund, a corporate venture fund sponsored by the BlueCross BlueShield Association. Sandbox creates and invests in businesses, searching for ideas with the potential to change markets, and then leveraging its expertise, resources, experience, and contacts to transform them into successful enterprises. A non-traditional blend of venture capital alongside a business incubator, Sandbox represents a new model for business development – one that helps rather than harasses entrepreneurs – and is redefining the way great ideas are generated and transformed into successful companies.

September 5, 2011 I Written By