Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Mount Sinai among top innovative companies

Though the healthcare industry is often seen as slow to adopt new technologies and reinvent itself, some major organizations are listed alongside names such as Uber, Apple and Buzzfeed in Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies of 2016.

Included in the magazine's list of top innovators by sector are a major health insurance company, well-regarded-health systems, a wearable technology vendor, a new philanthropic foundation and a retailer that has fashioned itself into a one-stop-shop healthcare provider.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association makes the cut as one of the top companies in the data-science sector "for learning from 106 million patients and $350 billion in claims" via the database it unveiled last year called Axis. BCBSA plans to create a tool that allows patients, providers and employers to compare cost and quality data for procedures in different areas, Fast Company notes, and it is working on creating Web services that would allow anyone to access the data.
  • Mount Sinai Health System also earned recognition in the data-science category thanks to its recent project ImmuNet, created with the help of Princeton University. ImmuNet allows researchers with limited computational knowledge to discover disease patterns using data from more than 38,000 public experiments. The project, Fast Company says, may help the medical community better understand the immune system.
  • Fitbit made Fast Company's overall top-50 innovative companies list because the maker of the popular fitness tracker not only ignited the trend of wearables, but also "remains the leader in the category it invented" even with the rise of smartphone apps and smartwatches that promise similar functions.
  • Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory was named one of the healthcare sector's top innovators for "building the bionic man, one arm at a time." More specifically, its Revolutionizing Prosthetics program developed the Modular Prosthetic Limb, which is the first prosthetic arm that an individual can operate by thinking about moving.
  • CVS Health was the third-ranked most innovative company, overall, thanks to its efforts to grow its customer base with services that defy expectations, such as its Minute Clinics. But it's also delving into the tech realm, working with IBM to use Watson's artificial intelligence system to predict which customers will need clinical interventions.
  • The Parker Foundation netted recognition in the healthcare category for the billionaire-backed organization's innovative approach to making donations. Instead of soliciting grant applications, the foundation finds a problem in the public health, life sciences or civic engagement sectors, then sets about solving it--either by granting funds to an existing organization or creating one.

To learn more:
- here's the top 50 innovators list
- check out the top companies by sector