Health for America (HFA) started as a standalone nonprofit in 2012, co-founded by Madhura Bhat, who holds an MBA, an MPH, and an MA in Communications, and Dr. Kapil Parakh, a cardiologist who currently works at Google and leads efforts on improving the search experience around health. Their goal was to accelerate the pace of health innovation, while shaping the next generation of leaders who otherwise may not have an opportunity to innovate in such a focused and meaningful way early in their careers. They also wanted to give this rising talent the right educational foundation in health broadly, as well as human-centered design and lean startup methodology.
In January 2016, MedStar Health expanded its commitments to innovation and education by making HFA an ongoing fellowship program within 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,” says Mark Smith, MD, chief innovation officer of MedStar Health and director of MI2. Read more in the related press release.
Since its inception, HFA has shaped the early careers of 17 innovators in collaboration with 1776 and other supporters, building and engaging with a nationwide network in the process. Over the years, fellows have developed a wide range of health solutions, including a game design challenge to benefit children with asthma; a low-cost remote monitoring solution for individuals with congestive heart failure; a unique food delivery and education service serving people with type 2 diabetes; and stroke care innovations that address wake-up stroke and patient education and wellness challenges.
HFA was honored with the Dewey Winburne Community Service Award at South by Southwest® in 2013, among other awards the fellows have won for their work.