South Florida Tech HubSouth Florida Tech Hub

By Nikki Cabus

Industry leaders and researchers brought together for the FAU Data Science Conference

Read Time 3 Minutes

Back in person for the first time since the pandemic, the Florida Atlantic University Data-Driven Science & AI Conference brought together industry leaders, students, and researchers from multiple industries. This is the fourth conference for the Schmidt College of Science and the first year the conference attracted support from the National Science Foundation!

“The conference was reshaped this year to meet the growth of the Schmidt College of Science as well as the dynamic tech, data and AI community we work with in South Florida,” said William Kalies, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Conference Chair. “The funding provided by the NSF enabled us to conduct this conference again and provide opportunities for our local industry to interact with our researchers and students to spark future collaborations, internship and career opportunities.”

Throughout the day-long event, participants had the opportunity to attend two panel discussions, six themed minisymposium sessions, ranging from the use of AI in chemistry and molecular medicine to the urban applications of data science, enjoy a student research poster competition, learn about opportunities in the community through Tech Hub South Florida, and had multiple opportunities for learning and networking.

Twenty-six students from FAU High School and FAU’s undergraduate and graduate programs exhibited their research at the conference. Three students, Kayla Ahlness, Dawn Raja Somu, and Deepika Regmi, earned recognition for their studies from faculty judges.

The conference included two sponsored panel sessions by South Florida Tech Hub, including the Health Tech panel that discussed, “Digital Transformation and Data-Driven Insight in Healthcare” with leaders in healthcare technology. This panel had a packed room of students, researchers and faculty interested in hearing about “Where We Are and Where We’re Going” in healthtech.

Meggie Soliman, Director of Strategic Innovations at DSS, Inc. opened up the conversation with a presentation and followed by moderating the discussion with panelists, Pete Martinez, CEO of Sivotech Bioinformatics and former IBM executive, Yenvy Truong, Founder of LSM Group, and  Christopher Kunney, Chief of Strategy & Business Development at DSS, Inc.

The Tech Career & Internship Experiences panel discussion paired recent FAU alumni with their mentors to discuss how they secured an internship and their current full-time industry positions. They also answered students’ questions and shared advice.

Panelists included Rich Viens, Chief Financial Officer at PeakActivity and former intern Valeria Tineo, now the Incoming Account Executive of Organizational Business Development at Cleveland Cavaliers, and Lakshamana Sankarakuttalam, Senior Manager IT, Enterprise Intelligence at Office Depot alongside recent FAU Alum and current Master’s student,  Jose Delgado, Software Developer at Office Depot.

The conference featured mini sessions highlighting everything from “The Impact of AI in Financial Market Investment Strategies” to “Topological Data Analysis Algorithms in Robot Motion Planning.” The final keynote talk of the day was Daniel Uribe, MBA, Co-Founder & CEO, GenoBank.io, and active Tech Hub member. His talk was titled “BioNFTs: Enabling Decentralized Consented Genomics in the Metaverse” discussing the biodata provenance journey with an ethical risk analysis of who benefits, who is at risk, and who decides on the biological assets (biosamples + biodata) and the introduction of Biological Non-Fungible Tokens or BioNFTs that resolve in a public blockchain.

This year marked the return to an in-person event for the first time since 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last conference was held virtually in 2020. The last conference was successfully supported by the local Boca Raton company, TechStrong Group and Media Ops, which ensured it could be attended virtually. We are already looking forward to 2023!

Student Kerry-Ann Bartley shares how the M.S. in Data Science and Analytics program in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science provides training in analytic tools, preparing students with transferrable real world skills.

By Riley Kaminer

Member Spotlight | DSS

Read Time 3 Minutes

Business: Health information software development and systems integration company

Launched: 1991

HQ: Juno Beach

Employees: 600+

Website: DSSInc.com

Healthcare is one of the biggest businesses in the United States, making up almost 18% of GDP. For technologists looking to make an impact, the healthtech space may be one of the most ripe for innovation.

Christopher Kunney has worked in information technology with a focus on healthcare for three decades. He is the Chief of Strategy & Business Development at Juno Beach-based DSS, a healthcare software development and systems integration company with over 30 years of health information experience. From DSS’ commercial division, Juno Health to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and other Federal agencies, DSS solutions are used daily by thousands of clinicians and administrative staff nationwide. 

“Data is truly the currency to help understand what determines someone’s wellbeing,” said Kunney. “It’s the info that helps hospitals and clinicians make smarter, more informed decisions.” Smart use of data is critical in the shift towards what Kunney describes as “accountable care” or “incentivizing hospitals and clinicians to prevent you from getting sick, and rewarding such behavior.”

Kunney explained how DSS is leveraging technology and data to solve the industry’s thorniest problems. Take electronic health records (EHR) for example. According to Kunney, “eight out of ten professionals dislike their EHR.” That’s because legacy systems are often very keyboard heavy, which makes entering data an unnecessarily laborious task.

DSS is, in Kunney’s words, “taking a bold step in the hospital EHR market” with its upcoming launch of Juno EHR

“We’re turning the concept of the EHR on its head,” said Kunney. “We’ve built it on the clinicians’ needs, giving power back to the providers with access to the patient data they need when they need it” he explained.

This cloud-based system will centralize information and seamlessly integrate with third-party services. Because it’s a SaaS product, Kunney says that the “capital outlay for acquisition of our product is lower” compared to that of legacy providers.

This is an enticing selling point for hospitals that work off a very tight margin, said Kunney. “When they purchase as a service, it means that they don’t have to compromise: scale up as you need and scale down as you don’t.”

Another one of DSS’s most recent innovations under the Juno Health division, Juno RxTracker, automates and simplifies the ePrescribing process. Kelly Kavooras, Chief Marketing Officer at DSS, says that this product is especially important for meeting eprescribing mandates for controlled substances like opioids. It enables healthcare providers to check a patient’s medical records across different systems to avoid bad interactions, while also enabling prescriptions to be efficiently and effectively submitted to pharmacies.

Kunney explained that “Covid brought out the gaps and weaknesses of legacy systems.” He believes that “tech still has a long way to go to support clinical efficiencies” and thinks that DSS can play a major role in addressing the biggest healthcare challenges of our time.

“We’re starting to anticipate the direction of the industry, develop tools that help field those gaps, and help drive the market down the path for disruptive care,” he said.

Hailing from Atlanta, Kunney is “very encouraged and very excited by the healthtech market in South Florida.”

He continued, “we’re staying very involved in the tech community to support the narrative that South Florida can become a healthcare tech hub.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | Meggie Soliman & DSS Inc.

Read Time 4 Minutes

Business: DSS is a health information software development and systems integration company, providing solutions at VA medical facilities nationwide, as well as in the private sector.

Year founded: 1991

CEO: Mark Byers

Headquarters: Juno Beach

Employees: 600 nationwide; 304 in Palm Beach County

Corporate values: Family, Agility, Synergy, Teamwork, Pioneers, Quality.

Website: dssinc.com

 

The COVID-19 pandemic is playing havoc with clinical processes and administrative workflows in hospitals worldwide at a time when the healthcare institutions have one focus: saving precious lives. So DSS Inc., a healthcare technology company, is on the front lines of tech, implementing and updating its software applications to support locations battling the novel coronavirus.

DSS was founded in 1991 in by three brothers who had a passion for software, Mark, Ron and Joe Byers,  in their Colorado garage. They won their first contract ever from the West Palm Beach division of the Department of Veteran Affairs a few years later. DSS started with one product and now the company has 600 employees working in offices across the U.S., including its Juno Beach headquarters.

Today, DSS provides 70-plus software applications to improve veteran healthcare in VA hospitals nationwide. “We develop applications across the healthcare spectrum – billing, administrative, clinical. We have several applications in every VA hospital today,” said Meggie Soliman, Director of Strategic Innovations, Applications.

Pivoting to the Private Sector

DSS also now has a commercial division, and is developing an EHR (Electronic Health Record) application. It’s important because one out of five EHR implementations fail today, Soliman said. “Clinicians are developing the EHR so it is for clinicians by clinicians. We want to make sure we are the forefront of usability and technology and we are really excited about it and will be launching soon.”

Patients , particularly veterans, are at the center of DSS’s mission.

“That’s been a big gap in the healthcare world and it something DSS does very well – we are engaging clinicians very early on in the process and making sure they are part of our building of cutting edge technology applications,” Soliman said.  ” It is not just about having cool technology and nice apps but it’s about making sure you are patient-first.”

Soliman has been with DSS for six years. She earned her master’s degree in biomedical informatics and worked at a clinical research company in Miami and a big pharma company in New Jersey before joining DSS. At DSS, she started as a product owner and moved into project management operations and now is directing strategic innovations for applications.

A typical day for Soliman involves working with customers and clinicians, and brainstorming with the team. “We have a family culture, an open collaboration … brainstorming is really our art.”

Soliman also enjoys collaborating with the greater tech community, for instance her recent work with Palm Beach Tech Association and the Chamber of Commerce. “I feel we can make bigger strides if we all work together.”

At one recent event, the topic was the millennial impact on the workforce in South Florida. “As a millennial myself in leadership, I believe that organizations need to adapt and adjust to the needs of the millennial to attract that workforce. … [Millennials] are more about working for a purpose and that is really important for organizations to have that in their messaging and in their mission.”

Building an Innovative Team

As for hiring, DSS looks for collaborative team members who are creative and open-minded, said Soliman, who is currently looking for a data scientist and engineer for her team. “I look for those innovators who really love to collaborate and think outside the box and challenge themselves.’

She said what’s most special is DSS’s family values — “the openness our leadership has for providing environments for us to truly innovate. We are very patient centered, and that gives everyone purpose, they know at the end of the day their work is impacting a patient’s health.”

That’s clearly evident as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. DSS has a product that provides customized surveillance alerts and reports to clinicians, streamlining their workflow, for instance. It also has consult tracking and a chemotherapy manager that have been implemented for COVID-19.

“I am passionate about all that DSS has to offer because it truly is coming from an amazing place,” Soliman said. “The end product is coming from working with clinicians and our innovators, the end result is going to be cutting edge. I stand by that.”

Industry leaders and researchers brought together for the FAU Data Science Conference
Member Spotlight | DSS
Member Spotlight | Meggie Soliman & DSS Inc.