Dr. Garth Graham on Technology and Medicine Combining Forces

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If you think you can’t change the world, think again.

A few days ago, I spoke with Aetna Foundation’s President, Dr. Graham, about the link between technology and healthcare. This was perfect timing because the Aetna Foundation is hosting the Healthier World Innovation Challenge, a grant for brilliant ideas and dreams in the healthcare field. Having recently explored the  the topic of international development, Dr. Graham and I spoke about the reality of what can be achieved and how to do so in a way that works for the communities that will receive the benefits of the Aetna Foundation grants.

YouTube video

You can listen to his response to each question below:

In your own words can you describe Aetna Foundation’s Healthier World Innovation Challenge and how you came up with this?

In your past role, you helped the Bush and Obama administrations tackle healthcare inequality. How do you use this experience to bring about change in underserved communities while working for a different organization like the Aetna Foundation? 

What are currently the most encouraging solutions that combine healthcare and technology?

How do you feel these and future technologies will be received by the underserved communities (i.e. often great solutions like “Playpump” are implemented in communities that don’t express any desire to adapt these or fit the culture)?

When you improve something, you change it in ways you couldn’t have expected. What are some positive or negative outcomes you will look out for when choosing who to award the grant to? For example, communities in India cut off their water supply so they could be classified as “slums” and be eligible for slum-upgrading funding.

How will you determine whether the solutions are a success after the three years of funding and support provided by the Aetna Foundation? How will you approach scaling up the solution to work in more communities if it is successful?

Let me give you the low down on this awesome opportunity to make an enormous difference.

To sum it all up, the Aetna Foundation offers up to USD 4.5 million in grants designed to improve chronic health outcomes in underserved communities using readily available technology. They are looking for six (6) deserving organizations to award up to $750,000 each over three consecutive years and will have the full support of the Aetna Foundation and partner organizations.

Underserved communities, such as low-income, minority, and remotely located populations, suffer from an all-time high of chronic diseases. The two leading killers are heart disease and diabetes. These are two of the top 10 leading causes of death among African Americans and Hispanics. The Aetna foundation grants remind us that in 2015 we have so much opportunity to change the healthcare field, and the changes are right under our fingertips. We should take advantage of the technological conveniences available to us to make a difference, especially when it comes to healthcare. According to the Aetna Foundation, “1 in 3 mobile users have used their mobile device to research health information, and 90% of patients want to self-manage their healthcare using technology. This includes accessing medical information, refilling prescriptions, and booking appointments online.”

If you belong to a similar community and have an idea to help, this is your chance to make a difference. Spread the word or sign up. Great things come from tiny sparks of ideas, and you can accomplish something life-changing if you take the first step.


Learn more about the Healthier World Innovation Challenge here.

Challenge: Up to six organizations will receive up to $750,000 each over three consecutive years, and have the full support of the Aetna Foundation and partner organizations. Challenge innovations will be implemented locally through pilot solutions in specific communities, and scaled nationally if proven effective.

< strong>Purpose: The Healthier World Innovation Challenge will create solutions that will empower members of underserved populations to take control of their health with real-world solutions that fit into their everyday lives through technology they are already using.

Eligibility: All non-profit and community organizations with a 501(c)(3) status and state and local government agencies are eligible to enter the Healthier World Innovation Challenge.


  • Innovative use of developed technology in real-world interventions
  • Potential impact on underserved populations with high chronic disease prevalence
  • Demonstrated credibility and influence in their targeted communities based on the types and quality of partnerships and coalitions being presented
  • Engagement of community partners to help drive measurable health outcomes
  • Ability to track positive health change over a three year period through evidence-based approaches
  • Ability to scale for use across platforms in different community settings

Interested in entering? To join the Healthier World Innovation Challenge, click hereOrganizations interested in entering the Challenge can download information on Jan. 5, 2015.

Key deadlines:

  • 16, 2015, 5 p.m. EST – Deadline for receipt of Letters of Inquiry
  • March 20, 2015 – Notification of invitation to submit a full proposal
  • April 27, 2015, 5 p.m. EST – Deadline for receipt of full proposals
  • May 25, 2015 – Notification of awards
  • June 22, 2015 – Grants begin

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Jason Batansky

Jason Batansky is a 34-year-old entrepreneur/blogger who has been in constant motion since he graduated college in 2010. His three online businesses have allowed him to travel and live throughout South America, South East Asia, and Europe, while working here and there wherever he found reliable Wi-Fi access and motivation, two elements necessary to running online businesses that can be difficult to obtain simultaneously in the world. Jason lives in Miami Beach.

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