Winning whistlestop tour of the US

1 June 2010


Respiratory nurse Wendy McNaughton and IT specialist Murray Speight with their winning online tool GASP on-screen behind them.

A winning idea to improve asthma management has won nurse Wendy McNaughton a whistlestop marketing tour of the United States.

The online GASP asthma management tool, developed by McNaughton and IT specialist Murray Speight for Harbour Health, is one of ten finalists in the $800,000 Focus on Health innovation challenge.

McNaughton, respiratory programme manager for the Harbour Health primary health organisation, is passionate about helping more asthmatics to be symptom-free. The aim of the GASP tool is to standardise and speed up asthma clinical assessment and provide personalised best practice advice to the clinician for improving asthma management for each patient (see feature p.8).

The challenge was developed by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to help launch New Zealand health innovations into the United States.

More than 100 entries were whittled down to initially 20 semi-finalists and then 10 finalists. The finalists all had access to expert advice on marketing and developing their product or service, before hitting the road in late May for a roadshow tour to tout their wares in San Francisco, New York, Washington DC and Boston.

McNaughton says the roadshow involves them giving Dragon’s Den-style short “pitches” about GASP to potential investors or buyers.

The challenge, whose major sponsor is the Health Research Council, is being judged by a panel of five US and two New Zealand judges who will announce the winners in late June following the roadshow.

The grand prize winner will receive $37,000 worth of cash prizes and a further $55,000 worth of ‘in-kind’ prizes from New Zealand and US sponsors out of the total $800,000 worth of cash and ‘in-kind’ prizes.