MedStar Adds Health For America Fellowship to Its Innovation Institute

MedStar Institute for Innovation seeks the next class of innovators to help solve persistent challenges in health care. Applications are currently being accepted for 2016-17 class.

January 27, 2016

Applications Being Accepted for 2016-17 Class

WASHINGTON, D.C. — MedStar Health has expanded its commitments to innovation and education by integrating a fellowship program that is focused on solving persistent challenges in health care today. The Health For America fellowship, co-founded in 2012 by Madhura Bhat, MBA, MPH, and Kapil Parakh, MD, PhD, MPH, as a standalone nonprofit organization, will be absorbed into the MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2), which began mentoring the current class of four recent graduates in business, engineering, public health, and design in September 2015.

The program was designed to tap the nation’s spirit of entrepreneurism to find novel ways to approach complex problems in health care. Applications for next year’s class are now being accepted at In addition, MedStar is recruiting a dedicated program manager to join MI2’s External Alliances team to oversee HFA operations and deepen connections with other MI2 programs and partnerships.

The year-long program brings together an interdisciplinary team of young professionals with diverse skills and perspectives, and immerses them in a healthcare system to focus on solving persistent challenges in today’s environment. During the year, the fellows gain knowledge and experience in design thinking, lean startup methodologies, and other entrepreneurial techniques.

“Health For America has created an incredibly innovative approach to discovering what’s over the next mountain in the treatment and management of chronic disease,” says Mark Smith MD, MedStar’s chief innovation officer and director of the MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2), “As soon as we became fully engaged with the program, we knew that it belonged at MedStar Health full-time, aligned with the mission of MI2 to catalyze innovation that advances health. This also highlights our foundational principle that for health care to be transformed, we must also look outside our own walls—and those of our traditional collaborators.”

Parakh, a co-founder of Health for America, says: “In building the fellowship program, our goal was to instigate new approaches to complex healthcare problems in a sustainable, repeatable way. Through our partnership with MedStar and MI2 we quickly realized the exponential power of joining forces with an organization whose mission and resources will significantly shorten the time to real impact. MedStar Health is the ideal home for Health For America’s promise to be fulfilled.”

The current class of fellows is working with MedStar physicians, patients, nutritionists, and care managers to improve the management, treatment, and experience of patients with type 2 diabetes, which affects more than 30 million people in the United States (almost 10 percent of the population). Previous classes tackled childhood asthma and congestive heart failure, and led to the early development of high impact, cost effective solutions that could improve health outcomes while lowering overall costs.

The work around type 2 diabetes will be further accelerated through MedStar’s founding partnership with 1776, a Washington-based global incubator and seed fund, which provides valuable mentorship in all aspects of company building and product development.
“1776 is excited deepen our partnership with MedStar Health through this integration of the Health For America program,” says Donna Harris, cofounder and co-CEO of 1776. “By aligning MedStar’s healthcare innovation power behind this fellowship, the possibilities for exploration and opportunities for potential impact are significant.”

The current fellows spent three months shadowing practitioners at the MedStar Diabetes Institute and A. I. DuPont Nemours Children’s Hospital, Wilmington, DE, and learning from the experts at MI2, and attending summits and educational events. They are now beginning to develop their ideas and will present three core solutions in early 2016.

About MedStar Institute for Innovation
The MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2) was chartered by Ken Samet, President and CEO of MedStar Health, in 2009 and serves as a catalyst and seed crystal for innovation across the entire MedStar organization. The mission of MI2 is to catalyze innovation that advances health; its mantra is “Think Differently.” MI2’s foundational premises are: 1. A huge amount of untapped and undertapped creative and intellectual energy exists at MedStar; 2. the tyranny of the daily trumps the pursuit of the remarkable (…in the absence of a countervailing force). MI2’s scope includes initiatives in human factors engineering, education and simulation training, information infrastructure, technology development and commercialization, and processes and systems of care delivery. Visit



Ann C. Nickels
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