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March 28, 2017 | Tom Ballard

Personal obstacles in finding treatment drove founding of Utilize Health

The TENN 3(EDITOR’S NOTE: The eight teams that comprise the fourth cohort in Launch Tennessee’s “The TENN” master accelerator program bring the curtain down on the experience at a pitch finale set for tonight at Well Placed Smile, 907 Gleaves Street in Nashville. To register, click here. Ahead of that event, we are running short profiles on each of the teams.)

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Entrepreneurs are driven by different reasons to build a new enterprise. For some, it’s the technology or idea that they love. For others, it might be personal.

The latter is certainly the driver for Jessica Harthcock, Chief Executive Officer of Utilize Health. Her story stems from an accident while practicing gymnastics that left the then 17-year old paralyzed from the waist down.

“The doctors said I would never walk again,” she told those who attended one of two events in Knoxville last month during “The TENN Road Show.” In spite of the diagnosis, Harthcock walked to the front of the room to pitch her company that is focused on helping others with one of the biggest challenges she faced in overcoming the odds: coordination of care.

“It’s difficult finding resources . . . a care path in the post-acute setting,” she explained in describing her journey to find the proper rehabilitation resources. Those challenges led her to launch the company that combines digital tools and concierge services to reduce care costs and improve patient health.

As noted on its website, “Utilize Health is dedicated to helping those with complex health conditions navigate their course of care. We focus on the whole patient by assisting them with medical, social and environmental needs. Our concierge services empower both patients and their care team to make informed healthcare decisions therefore maximizing patient health.”

The start-up currently focuses on individuals in six areas: stroke, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, and muscular dystrophy.

A quick tour of the website shows these patient-focused resources:

  • A facility finder that identifies the most appropriate resource provider for the individual based on answers to a questionnaire.
  • A library to find out more information about the conditions that Utilize Health serves as well as various types of therapy and equipment used for rehabilitation.
  • Something called the “Utilize Health Patient Advocate Program” which consists of clinicians who act as an individual’s concierge to assist in a variety of ways including gathering research, working with insurance companies, and helping with transportation needs.
  • An online forum that connects individuals with similar health challenges.

“We primarily sell to health plans,” Harthcock added.

Thus far, the Nashville-based company has raised $2.2 million and is planning to raise another $5 to $7 million.

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