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By Nikki Cabus

DSS Director of Strategic Innovation Meggie Soliman Wins IGNITE 2024 Award

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Document Storage Systems, Inc. (DSS), a leading provider of health information technology (HIT) solutions for federal, private and public health care organizations, announced that Meggie Soliman, director of strategic innovation at DSS, has been selected as a winner of GOVTECH CONNECTS’ IGNITE 2024 Award.

Document Storage Systems, Inc. (DSS) is a catalyst for health care innovation and digital transformation, helping the Department of Veterans Affairs as a solutions provider, systems integrator, and services contractor. DSS is committed to assisting VA in its High Reliability Organization journey and delivering care quality for Veterans by meeting top initiatives, changing regulatory requirements, and implementing enhanced business transformation across VA enterprise.

The IGNITE 2024 Award, presented by GOVTECH CONNECTS, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, innovation, and impact in their field. Forward-thinking leaders and today’s trailblazers converge to celebrate the future of digital transformation during this dynamic event that invites women and gender-diverse professionals in all career seasons to delve into cutting-edge solutions, learn from visionary leaders, and embrace the innovations shaping digital transformation.

This immersive experience brought together exceptional women in government and industry highlighting the ideas and actions of inspirational leaders who shared their stories of their leadership journey to the top, and the change-making technological advances and digital transformation they are cultivating in government and driving to market in industry.

As the recipient of the esteemed IGNITE award, Meggie Soliman exemplified unparalleled dedication and visionary leadership, setting a standard of excellence for their peers. Specifically, Meggie was recognized for taking a disruptive and forward-thinking approach to innovation development for the federal health care arena.

GOVTECH CONNECTS is the modern liaison between government and industry, forging mission-driven connections between leaders, decision-makers, and influencers across the dynamic tech landscape. Through immersive events, insightful roundtables, and captivating government podcasts, GOVTECH CONNECTS offers a platform to discuss the transformative potential of technology within government. With boundless energy and a passion for innovation, GOVTECH CONNECTS aims to collaboratively identify pathways to achieving common goals, spotlighting emerging technologies and leading the charge in digital transformation and IT modernization.

The awards celebration was held April 18th in North Bestheda, Maryland during the annual Ignite 2024 conference. This year’s theme was “Powerful Women Igniting Digital Transformation.” Attendees and special guests included inspirational leaders such as keynote speaker, Suzi Connor, Chief Information Officer of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services and Jessica Berrellez, Executive Officer of the Office of Digital Transformation for the Food and Drug Administration. The guest list was pretty impressive.

“I am truly honored to be named an IGNITE 2024 Award recipient,” said Meggie Soliman. “The health IT arena is continually evolving in dynamic ways, and DSS continues to be at the forefront as a catalyst for transforming federal health care delivery.”

In addition to being deeply committed to elevating the federal IT arena, Meggie is an educator focused on enlightening current and future leaders about the ongoing digital transformation that impacts every facet of our lives. Meggie is a renowned TEDx speaker on the topic of “Thinking Outside the Block: Unconventional Paths to Innovation” about the power of unconventional thinking for fostering creative approaches for innovation development, especially for women in IT.

“I am so humbled and grateful for the opportunity to sit among amazing women as an IGNITE 2024 Awardee,” Meggie wrote in a social media post. “It was so energizing to see women supporting other women in the tech space. These women are trailblazers truly leading the way for our future and showing young girls what’s possible!!! Thankful for everyone who has led me to where I am today! Thank you, GOVTECH CONNECTS for creating this space!!”

Meggie is also the Chair of South Florida Tech Hub’s HealthTech & Life Sciences Peer Group. She is an ambassador for the organization and the overall mission and vision of building the tech sector, access to education, advocate for blockchain technology, and equal opportunities for women in tech.

For more insight into Meggie’s work with DSS, the local community and her background, check out Meggie’s Q&A writeup here.

By Nikki Cabus

Carewell Secures $24.7 Million in Series B Funding and hires former Chewy executives

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Carewell announced a $24.7 million Series B capital raise to further accelerate its mission of streamlining access to home health products.

Carewell is the No. 1 ecommerce destination for caregiving products. Carewell customers can shop across a wide variety of categories, including incontinence, nutrition, mobility, mom & baby and more. With a team of highly trained customer care experts, over 300+ educational articles, detailed video content, FAQs and descriptive product pages, Carewell takes the guesswork out of caregiving, setting it apart from other online retailers and drug stores.

This latest round of funding was led by the principals of MBF Healthcare, with participation from existing investors Sageview Capital and Headline among others. In addition, the company has made several senior level hires amidst plans to relocate their headquarters to Miami.

“Family caregiving is becoming an increasingly more common experience in the U.S. with spouses, children, parents, and even grandchildren having to take on a caregiving role overnight without warning,” said Bianca Padilla, CEO and Founder of Carewell.

“Understandably, these individuals can experience significant mental, physical, and emotional stress as they balance their role as caregivers with other responsibilities to work and family, and our mission at Carewell is to help educate, support and advocate for these selfless heroes.”

Co-founder and CEO Bianca helped her mom care for her grandmother they had no clue which products they needed, much less where to find them or how to use them. Online marketplaces were confusing, local shops had limited selection and no discretion, and both experiences lacked empathy. Bianca was shocked there was no What to Expect guide like there is for new parents, so she and her husband and co-founder Jonathan dedicated their lives to creating a solution for family caregivers just like you.

Founded in 2017, Carewell is a source of support for independent caregivers seeking helpful and knowledgeable customer service, educational resources, and affordable, trusted products, including incontinence supplies and nutritional supplements. The funds from the Series B round will fuel Carewell’s growth strategy, bolster the company’s e-commerce technology, and enhance overall customer experience, focusing on improved service and an expanded suite of products.

“As healthcare investors for over 40 years, we have strived to create greater value for our investors when focusing on companies that provide a point of difference to their customers and patients,” said, Mike B. Fernandez, Chairman of MBF Healthcare Plans.

“Carewell’s commitment to providing an exceptional 24/7 customer experience and tailored high-end products at competitive prices sets them apart from competitors and we are proud to support a family-run company dedicated to shaping the future of healthcare and caregiving.”

MBF Healthcare Partners II, L.P. is a leading middle-market healthcare private equity fund based in Coral Gables, Florida. Our strategy is to partner with exceptional management teams while leveraging MBF’s operating experience, domain segment knowledge, and tenured relationships to rapidly accelerate value creation. The partners of MBF have substantial operating experience in healthcare and have held senior management positions in both private and publicly traded healthcare companies. MBF principals have managed and helped build some of the nation’s most innovative and successful healthcare companies. The firm is headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida.

Additional investors in this round of funding include Primetime Partners, Nextview, Florida Opportunity Fund, and Anchor.

Alongside the capital raise, Carewell has also announced the hiring of several senior executives from Chewy.com as part of relocating its headquarters to the Miami area.

  • Samantha Rassner joins as Chief Technology Officer from BEX Realty and previously led software development at Chewy.com, where she was responsible for expanding the brand’s e-commerce technology and pool of tech talent.
  • Jason Klinghoffer joins as Chief Marketing Officer from Chewy, where he led the company’s growth marketing strategy and co-led three capital raises.
  • Mike Pacifico joins as Chief Financial Officer from Chewy. Prior to this he was CFO at Arteza, a DTC arts and crafts brand.
  • Kelli Durkin joins as Vice President of Customer Service, bringing a wealth of expertise in customer experience from previous roles at The Farmer’s Dog and Chewy.

“Mike, Jason, Sam, and Kelli all bring significant ecommerce industry experience and a strong track record of working together from their time at Chewy.com. Their addition reaffirms our commitment to providing affordable healthcare solutions for caregivers, and we are thrilled to welcome them into the Carewell family,” said Ms. Padilla.

By Nikki Cabus

JA Inspire 2024 inspires middle school students in Palm Beach County

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Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast holds their annual JA Inspire visiting three different middle schools this year in Palm Beach County. 

Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast has served 810,727 K-12 students since 1981 throughout Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Hendry counties. The mission is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy through classroom programs and simulations that focus on financial literacy, workforce readiness, and entrepreneurship.

JA Inspire is more than a career fair. In collaboration with the Palm Beach County School District, the event brings together the business community and local schools and is designed to help launch middle school students into their futures: high school, college and beyond. During the JA Inspire expo which is held in-person within multiple middle schools, students participate in hands-on activities, often experiencing equipemt or tools used on the job. The experience is configurable to align with local industry and career opportunities based on the four competencies: creativity, collaboration, commuication, and critical thinking.

This year’s JA Inspire Palm Beach County ‘s 2024 events were held at the following middle schools:

Local companies have the chance to showcase their industry passion, career opportunities, engage with students through hands-on activities, and make a lasting impression on the future workforce of Palm Beach County. On the other hand, students get to connect with professionals from some of the region’s most prominent employers, explore career pathways and learn about the skills needed for in-demand jobs, explore their own interests with a variety of career opportunities, and strengthen their coursework pathway for high school and beyond.

Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast had a goal of impacting 8,600 students in the 2022 – 2023 school year. With support from organizations such as the Glenn W. Bailey Foundation and Wells Fargo, they were able to serve over 146,000 students overall! Over 98,600 students alone were reached through just three programs: JA Inspire, JA Career Speaker Series, and JA High School programs.

“I’m so happy for Junior Achievement [of the Palm Beach & Treasure Coast]. They always have the forsight to make sure they are in the schools making sure students knew all of the things they have needed to know as related to careers, academics, and relationships,” said Marcia Andrews, Palm Beach County School District Board Member.

She added, “When you begin to learn you need to kind of connect the careers with all the things you are learning in math, science, and technology.”

From the marine industry to healthcare and technology, multiple industries were represented. Volunteers gave their time to showcase the career opportunities, advancements in their fields, and the impact you could make in your local communities. One of those volunteers was John Riley III, Co-Founder of AVA Intelligence, South Florida Tech Hub member, Levan Center Cyber Range sales director, and loyal JA volunteer.

“I would like to give a big thank you to Lauren Henderson of Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast for the invitation to participate in another remarkable event for their JA Inspire program,” wrote John in a social media post. “Interacting with the students and addressing their technology questions was a truly rewarding experience.”

Dr. Eugina Smith Feaman, Principal at Emerald Cove Middle School in Wellington, shared “This is a preview for their future. This is an opportunity for them to dip their toe into different careers and different opportunities that they have for their future.

If you are interested in taking part in JA Inspire or future Junior Achievement volunteer opportunities, please visit www.palmbeachtreasurecoast.ja.org for more info on events, donation and speaking opportunities.

 

By Nikki Cabus

ChenMed Names Steve Nelson CEO, Chris Chen Executive Board Chair

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ChenMed announced a leadership change that will help guide the company’s ambitions to provide more seniors with better health outcomes.

Effective February 1, 2024, Chris Chen, ChenMed’s Chief Executive Officer, will transition to the role of Executive Chair of the Board and Steve Nelson, the company’s President, will elevate to serve as ChenMed’s CEO, leading management and operations.

Headquartered in Miami, ChenMed is a privately owned medical and technology company that delivers the high-touch and personalized primary care Medicare-eligible seniors need to enjoy better health. Named a Fortune “Change the World” company, twice-named a “Most Loved Workplace” by Newsweek, and a Certified Best Place to Work® by the Best Place to Work Institute, ChenMed brings concierge-style medicine and better health outcomes to the neediest populations.

ChenMed brands include Chen Senior Medical Center, Dedicated Senior Medical Center, JenCare Senior Medical Center, and IntuneHealth™. Thanks to its leading value-based, healthcare technology organization, Curity™, ChenMed also was recently named “Best Places to Work in IT” by Computerworld.

“My father’s vision for the company and our family’s commitment to bring our model of health care to those who need it most is now enabling hundreds of thousands of people to live healthier, more secure lives,” said Chris Chen.

“Steve Nelson’s expansive knowledge of health care, his skill in executing against a value-based care model, and his leadership values will position him as CEO to help us reach more people who can benefit from ChenMed’s brand of better health and well-being.”

Steve Nelson most recently served as the Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Duly Health and Care, one of the largest multispecialty independent provider groups in the U.S. with more than 1,000 primary care and specialty care physicians and more than 7,000 team members across 150 locations.

Prior to Duly, Steve spent 15 years at Unit­edHealth­ serving in leadership positions in both the Commercial and Government businesses. He served as the CEO of UnitedHealthcare, making the $190 billion division of UnitedHealth Group number one nationally in Medicare Advantage. He oversaw the commercial and government-subsidized health insurance businesses, including Medicare Advantage, which covered over five million seniors. He drove efforts that resulted in increased growth, employee engagement and customer satisfaction.

Christopher Chen added, “I am confident that the combination of strengths within the partnership between Steve and me can accelerate growth to provide unprecedented access to patients around the country who deserve quality, affordable and coordinated care.”

Additional leadership changes will include Mike Redmond, ChenMed’s Chief Financial Officer. He will remain at ChenMed and transition to the role of Special Advisor to the CEO and Board of Directors and Mike Bruff, the company’s Executive Vice President of Finance, will elevate to serve as Chief Financial Officer.

ChenMed presently operates more than 130 senior medical centers in 15 states throughout the country and remains dedicated to the founding principle that underserved seniors deserve access to exemplary primary care to keep them healthy and out of the hospital. These leadership changes will build upon the company’s success in serving individuals who have historically lacked access to coordinated health care, as it expands its presence to seniors in more areas of the country who can benefit from the preventive care model that ChenMed provides.

“Having spent more than thirty years in health care, my time within this company this past year has enabled me to witness what true value-based care looks like, and how it can improve peoples’ lives and transform healthcare in this nation,” said Steve Nelson. “ChenMed delivers this care peerlessly, and I am honored to have a partner like Chris Chen.”

To learn more about ChenMed, please visit www.chenmed.com

By Nikki Cabus

ModMed Appoint Joe Harpaz to Co-CEO After 6 Years in Leadership

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Practice technology leader and EHR pioneer ModMed® announced today the appointment of Joe Harpaz to Co-CEO.

ModMed is transforming healthcare by placing doctors and patients at the center of care through an intelligent, specialty-specific cloud platform. With their electronic health records (EHR) and practice management (PM) systems, and patient engagement and revenue cycle management (RCM) services, the all-in-one solution empowers specialty medical practices by providing clinical, financial and operational software solutions. ModMed staff physicians help to develop products and services for allergy, dermatology, gastroenterology, OBGYN, ophthalmology, orthopedics, otolaryngology, pain management, plastic surgery, podiatry and urology practices, as well as ambulatory surgery centers.

Joe Harpaz is a seasoned leader steeped in technology and operational leadership experience who, since 2018, has served as President and Chief Operating Officer at ModMed responsible for helping the company execute against its revenue targets.

During his six years of leadership with ModeMed, he oversaw and implemented multiple strategic initiatives that transformed the company’s go-to-market approach and fueled year-over-year growth, including driving market share with the company’s expansion into new medical specialties and products, and through several key strategic acquisitions.

“I am honored and excited for the incredible opportunity to co-lead this next chapter of ModMed, and to continue to work with our executive leadership team to deliver sustainable value and results,” commented Joe Harpaz.

Working alongside ModMed Co-founder and Co-CEO Dan Cane, and Co-founder and Chief Medical and Strategy Officer Dr. Michael Sherling, Joe will continue to help shape the company’s vision and strategic direction.

“For some time Joe’s contribution and many successes at ModMed have gone beyond go-to-market strategy and operations,” said Co-CEO Dan Cane.

“With his depth of experience in operational excellence, his passion for serving customers, and his longstanding commitment to empowering those around him, we are so pleased to recognize him with this promotion, and are confident in Joe’s continued ability to drive growth and profitability.”

Joe previously worked at Thomson Reuters, where as Managing Director of the Corporate Market, he led the highest-growth business in the company with nearly $600 million in global revenues. Earlier in his career, Joe founded Immediatech and the GoFileRoom cloud workflow solution and was recognized as an industry innovator multiple times in Accounting Technology’s “40 Under 40.” Joe is also a well-known as an industry thought leader and a regular contributor to Forbes.com.

To learn more about ModMed, please visit www.modmed.com.

By Nikki Cabus

A Small Startup with Big Backing is Betting it can Fix Clinical Trials and has Issued a Challenge to Find Out

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Modern Trials®, a startup aiming to transform clinical trial-patient matching, is collaborating with leading healthcare technology provider InterSystems® by issuing a challenge to assess Modern Trials’ EHR-based recruitment relative to current recruitment methods.

Co-founded in 2019 by Dr. Christopher Ochner, Modern Trials aims to match patients with clinical trials that could potentially save their life by connecting patients in need of advanced treatment options through democratizing access to clinical trials. They ingest the healthcare organization’s patient data and then make it searchable for their life science customers, clinical trial managers, in a private and secure manner.

Modern Trials is preparing a $2.4M NIH grant application that requires a healthcare organization partner with clinical trials to execute a Data Use Agreement to test grant aims.The challenge will be a head-to-head comparison to see which method results in more enrollees, more enrollees in traditionally underrepresented groups, more representative samples, and higher completion rates. Financial compensation will be provided to the partner healthcare organization.

“Grants like this are vital to provide the support necessary to determine, with real world data, the best method of democratizing access to advanced therapeutics. Until now, fewer than 15% of patients in need have had access to such opportunities,” Dr. Christopher Ochner told South Florida Tech Hub.

“Modern Trials extends its gratitude to South Florida’s Tech Hub’s ongoing support as we aim to bring these opportunities to all patients no matter who or where they are.”

The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced October 2023 that it will take action to improve the nation’s ability to conduct clinical trials safely, quickly, and equitably and to improve clinical trial access for people in communities across the country as the first initiative within the recently launched ARPANET-H Health Innovation Network.

The goal of Advancing Clinical Trial Readiness (ACTR) is to enable 90% of all eligible Americans to take part in a clinical trial within a half hour of their home. To do so, ACTR will leverage the nationwide capabilities and reach of the ARPANET-H Customer Experience Hub by pursuing activities with a diverse array of stakeholders in order to advance, integrate, and extend clinical trial capabilities that overcome challenges in evaluating new technologies, therapies, and platforms.

“Clinical trials are essential to evaluating potentially life-saving breakthroughs and getting them to patients, including in times of rapid response, such as during national emergencies,” said ARPA-H Director Renee Wegrzyn, Ph.D.

“The Advancing Clinical Trial Readiness initiative activates the ARPANET-H health innovation network as we work with organizations from across the country to advance technologies and insights to create a robust national clinical trial infrastructure.”

Working together with patient volunteers, clinical trials help researchers understand what treatments work, gathering a variety of data to help identify better ways to improve patients’ health. Yet many challenges in conducting clinical trials are slowing the speed at which new treatments can get to patients, such as lack of interoperability across electronic health records, enrollment processes that can lead to non-representative study populations, complex study protocols, lack of access to people living in certain parts of the United States, and the myriad and inconsistent variables involved in running trials in real-world settings, or the cost in running trials in controlled settings.

ACTR will work with groups across the country, including innovators, industry, patients, academia, hospital centers, community health centers, and non-traditional partners, such as retail pharmacies or home health innovators, to build faster, less expensive trials with decentralized processes. The effort will also build trials that operate closer to, or at, points of care and are representative of our nation’s geography, age, gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic groups.

“Recent advances in technologies, including artificial intelligence, digital health technologies, and machine learning — along with open standards — enable new opportunities to increase the speed, improve access, and expand the diversity of clinical trials,” said ARPA-H Resilient Systems Mission Office Director Jennifer Roberts, Ph.D.

“Through this effort, we want to develop novel innovations to distribute common protocols across many more locations so that we can change the current paradigm and open the door to faster, cheaper, and more representative trials.”

Modern Trials offers a strong business justification for data use under the auspice of a National Institute of Health (NIH) grant project. Formal security review, Data Use Agreement (DUA), and Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs) will stipulate that data will be used only to complete project aims and destroyed upon completion (1.5-2y).

Some of the partnership requirements are:

  • Healthcare system with at least 1M patient records in their electronic health record system
  • 1,000 active clinical trials
  • Systems located anywhere throughout the United States

With millions actively seeking answers, Modern Trials is on a mission to connect patients with the life-changing potential of clinical trials. Modern Trials is betting it can fix clinical trials!

Click here for more information on the Modern Trials Challenge and NIH Proposal Partnership Details.

By Nikki Cabus

DSS Wins Third Place in the precisionFDA Veterans Cardiac Health and AI Model Predictions Challenge

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Document Storage Systems, Inc. (DSS) announced it has been named a third-place winner in Phase 2 of the precisionFDA Veterans Cardiac Health and AI Model Predictions (V-CHAMPS) Challenge.

Palm Beach County-based DSS Inc. is a leading provider of health information technology (HIT) solutions for federal, private and public health care organizations. DSS is a catalyst for health care innovation and digital transformation, helping the Department of Veterans Affairs as a solutions provider, systems integrator, and services contractor. DSS is committed to assisting VA in its High Reliability Organization journey and delivering care quality for Veterans by meeting top initiatives, changing regulatory requirements, and implementing enhanced business transformation across VA enterprise.

The V-CHAMPS challenge calls on the scientific and data analytics community to develop and evaluate Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) models to predict cardiovascular health related outcomes in Veterans. Cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure and peripheral artery disease, are the leading cause of hospitalization in the VA health care system, and are a major cause of disability among Veterans.

In 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs published a study that found that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) might be an underlying cause of developing premature cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular health is an important part of Veteran health, therefore the prevention and reduction of risk for heart disease is a key area of focus for the VA.

For Phase 1, the DSS team led by Xiupeng Wei, PhD, was able to meet key criteria in the challenge using the synthetic Veteran data provided and which included a combination of clinical and data science subject matter experts. They were evaluated on innovation in clinical predictors, completeness of data science approaches, statistical metrics, and the exploration of demographics measures. As a result, the DSS team was selected as a Top Performer for Phase 1.

Phase 1 was focused on synthetic data and ran from May 25 to August 2, 2023. In this Phase of the Challenge, AI/ML models were developed by Challenge participants and trained and tested on the synthetic data sets provided to them, with a view towards predicting outcome variables for Veterans who have been diagnosed with chronic heart failure. Please note that in Phase 1, the data is synthetic Veteran health records.

For Phase 2 of the V-CHAMPS challenge, DSS won third place for creating predictive algorithms using AI/ML, which were tested used actual Veteran data, producing highly accurate results.

Phase 2 focused on validating and further exploring the limits of the AI/ML models. During this Phase, high-performing AI/ML models from Phase 1 were brought into the VA system and validated on real-world Veterans health data within the VHA.

“We are honored to be named a winner in the V-CHAMPS challenge, and are moving towards using these predictive algorithms for cardiac health in our product suite,” said Michele G. Burst, director strategic innovations, analytics at DSS.

“Our vision is to use these AI/ML capabilities to fully understand and predict Veteran health outcomes, which will have tremendous implications on the future of Veteran care.”

The primary outcome of interest for the V-CHAMPS challenge is a composite of all-cause mortality during a hospitalization and all-cause hospital readmissions. Secondary outcomes of interest are all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality during a hospitalization, hospital readmission for all causes (cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular), and hospital readmissions for cardiovascular causes.

According to the preceisionFDA website, “The V-CHAMPS Challenge showed us that artificial intelligence (AI) models that performed well on the synthetic patient data in Phase 1 also performed well on the RWD during Phase 2, highlighting the potential value of using synthetic data in AI model development. Teams that employed ensemble learning approaches also tended to perform the best. Overall, isolating the clinical features that drove model performance was considered the most critical differentiator in evaluating whether AI models could potentially be valuable aids to clinicians treating patients with cardiovascular conditions such as heart failure. A formal publication is planned to provide more detailed information on the V-CHAMPS Challenge, the challenge process, the lessons learned, and details of the models entered into the challenge.”

The V-CHAMPS challenge is managed by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Innovation Ecosystem (IE), the Digital Health Center of Excellence (DHCoE) at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the FDA Office of Digital Transformation (ODT)’s precisionFDA, and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Learn more about the V-CHAMPS Challenge winners and the challenge outcomes here.

By Nikki Cabus

Delray Beach-based Cyrno Therapeutics secures funding for smell loss treatment

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Cyrano Therapeutics, Inc. announced that it has secured a $9.0 million Series B financing to advance the development of CYR-064 as a potential first-ever treatment for post-viral smell loss.

Hyposmia, including post-viral hyposmia, is an increasingly prevalent and serious chronic sensory condition for which there is no approved drug therapy and limited treatment options. Hyposmia causes significant impairment in quality of life for many sufferers. Moreover, in older individuals, hyposmia is associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment and mortality. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 8 million individuals in the US and Europe suffered from long-term post-viral hyposmia. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in dramatically increased prevalence, with an estimated 40 million individuals in the US and Europe currently suffering from long-term post-viral hyposmia.

Delray Beach-based Cyrano Therapeutics is a private, venture-backed clinical stage regenerative medicine company. Since their foundation, the company has been working diligently to develop therapies for people struggling with the loss of smell (hyposmia) and taste.

Co-lead investors participating in the financing include the Florida Opportunity Fund managed by DeepWork Capital and existing investors Lumira Ventures and Remiges Ventures.

DeepWork Capital invests professionally managed committed venture capital in growth-oriented, early-stage companies in the technology and life science sectors. They partner with visionary entrepreneurs building disruptive companies and work closely with other investment groups taking a hands-on approach with its portfolio companies

Cyrano intends to use the proceeds from its Series B financing to advance FLAVOR, its Phase 2, double-blind, randomized clinical trial of CYR-064, an intranasal theophylline spray therapy to treat patients who have lost their sense of smell following recovery from a viral infection. The FLAVOR Phase 2 trial will be conducted at up to 15 sites in the US and the Series B financing is to fund the trial through data readout.

According to Cyrano’s website, “The Cyrano team has developed a unique, proprietary intranasal product to restore function in patients with a chronic loss of taste and smell. This is a condition affecting at least 14 million people in the US and a similar number in Europe, having a significant impact on safety, quality of life and well-being. Currently no marketed therapy exists and aside from the Cyrano product, none are in the pipeline. Cyrano has established the IP estate with the assistance of Wilson Sonsini. Key patents have been issued.”

“This Series B financing enables us to advance what we believe to be a first-of-its-kind treatment for patients suffering from long-term smell loss due to a viral infection,” said Rick Geoffrion, President and CEO of Cyrano Therapeutics, Inc. “Smell loss correlates to functional loss of taste, which can both diminish quality of life and present significant health and safety risks, thus underscoring the urgency in advancing this important therapeutic. We also plan to conduct exploratory research for patients with Parkinson’s disease, 95 percent of whom often experience loss of smell and flavor as the first symptom of the disease.”

Jackson Streeter, MD, Venture Partner at DeepWork Capital, stated: “Cyrano Therapeutics represents an important investment for DeepWork and the Florida Opportunity Fund as we seek to identify and cultivate emerging biotechnology companies in Florida that combine executive and scientific expertise with therapeutic opportunities that offer the potential to address significant, unmet medical needs. We look forward to supporting the entire Cyrano team as the company advances CYR-064 through the FLAVOR Phase 2 trial.”

The number of patients experiencing long-term smell and flavor loss has increased 10-fold in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to more than 40 million patients in the US and Europe. Thirty percent of those suffering from smell loss will experience a hazardous event such as food poisoning or the inability to detect hazardous fumes. There is currently no FDA-approved drug therapy to treat smell loss from any cause.

By Nikki Cabus

Successful Ft. Lauderdale-based Enhance Health acquires local JET Health Solutions

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JET Health Solutions, the sister company of Ft. Lauderdale-based OZ Digital, recently announced they were acquired by Enhance Health. 

Established in 1997, JET Health Solutions is the healthcare product division of IT systems integrator and consulting firm OZ Digital Consulting. The company is a premier Enhanced Direct Enrollment (EDE) platform and has been equipping healthcare payers and providers with the technology tools they need to surge ahead of the competition in a rapidly changing healthcare marketplace such as break-through automation systems for both payers and providers that boost productivity, improve operational efficiencies, accelerate sales, and bolster the bottom line.

Enhance Health is a digital health insurance brokerage and care navigation platform. The acquisition reinforces Enhance Health’s commitment to serving its members and scaling its operations effectively through technology. Enhance Health was founded in 2021 by industry veteran Matt Herman and backed by Bain Capital Insurance and has experienced rapid growth due to the record number of Americans enrolling in ACA health plans in 2022. Enhance Health has grown its membership base to hundreds of thousands, and is rapidly expanding into other insurance business lines.

Enhance Health has gained much visibility through recent partnerships such as NASCAR, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and the recent official partnership agreement with the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium.  The multi-year partnership provides wide-spread visibility for the rapidly growing insurance organization between two offices in the Fort Lauderdale area.

“Enhance Health is committed to helping as many people as possible in South Florida access quality healthcare through great health insurance, often at little or no cost. The partnership with the Miami Dolphins will help us spread the word and ultimately get more people covered, given the team’s widespread popularity and dedicated fan base,” said Matthew Herman, CEO and President of Enhance Health.

“We are thrilled to announce the acquisition of JET Health Solutions. Since Enhance’s founding, we’ve been committed to leveraging technology in new ways to simplify the enrollment process. JET’s advanced EDE platform improves our already best-in-class member and agent experience.”

JET Health Solutions’ flagship product, JET Insure is the enterprise-class online private exchange and marketplace quote-to-card insurance automation platform that empowers health plans to sell multiple lines-of-business — individual/family ACA (on/off-exchange), small group, large group, fully/self/level-funded and specialty products — faster and more profitably, all on a single system leveraging all sales channels including brokers and direct to consumer sales. JET Insure is a single platform for all your insurance products sales, and policy management needs.

With hundreds of thousands of members enrolled in Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans as well as Medicare Advantage plans, Enhance Health has established itself as a trusted partner in the healthcare industry. The acquisition of JET empowers Enhance Health to fully own the enrollment process, enhancing its capabilities and expanding its services with one of the few CMS-certified Phase 3 EDEs available in the market.

“Joining forces with Enhance Health is an exciting opportunity to drive meaningful change in the healthcare industry,” said Asad Shamim, Founder and Managing Partner of JET Health Solutions. “Together, we are well-positioned to revolutionize the enrollment process and improve healthcare access for individuals and families across the nation.”

With partners such as Microsoft, Xamarin, Mulesoft, and IBM, JET Health has successfully equipped healthcare payers and providers with cutting-edge tools to excel in the ever-evolving healthcare marketplace.

“Integrating an EDE into our technology stack solidifies Enhance as the leader in the digital health insurance space,” said Jeff Tang, CIO of Enhance Health. “Fully integrated with our CRM and other agent systems, this platform will fundamentally change the way we interact with our members through streamlined agent workflows, actionable data, and enhanced data security.”

By Adam Elitzur

Modern Trials and InterSystems Collaborate to Transform Clinical Trial Recruitment

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Modern Trials®, a startup aiming to transform clinical trial-patient matching, is now collaborating with leading healthcare technology provider InterSystems®.

Currently, clinical trial recruitment is accomplished by either relying on doctors to refer the patients they think will meet trial eligibility criteria or by patients responding to a trial advertisement. Neither of these methods are very effective, as there are over 50,000 active clinical trials that each have very specific eligibility criteria. The collaboration between Modern Trials and InterSystems aims to solve this issue.

 

The Birth of Modern Trials

Founded in 2019 by Dr. Christopher Ochner and Dr. Alexander Logsdon, Modern Trials aims to match patients with clinical trials that could potentially save their life by connecting patients in need of advanced treatment options through democratizing access to clinical trials.”

Dr. Logsden, a practicing clinician often experienced his patients desperately seeking, but unable to find, appropriate clinical trial opportunities. Dr. Ochner had been working in research administration, running clinical trials and noticed companies spending tons of money trying to promote these trials and desperate to find patients. The two parties were continuously missing each other.

Dr. Ochner had the unfortunate experience of his own mother, Mae, being diagnosed with stage IV cancer. After frantically searching for clinical trials that were both clinically relevant and immediately available, he continuously come up empty handed. Dr. Ochner had to find her a clinical trial fast and rightfully assumed it would be easy because he works in the field. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

“I spent a month and I couldn’t get it done for my own mother,” Dr. Ochner told South Florida Tech Hub. “And that’s having been in the industry 20 years. I said to my Co-Founder Logsdon, “You were right, this system is broken and we need to fix it.”

That was the birth of the Miami-based Modern Trials.

Modern Trials sits at the intersection of health care and life science, partnering with healthcare organizations who have the patients in need of additional treatment options. They ingest the healthcare organization’s patient data and then make it searchable for their life science customers, clinical trial managers, in a private and secure manner.

 

How can InterSystems help?

InterSystems delivers high performance, cloud- first data platforms that solve data interoperability, speed, and scalability problems for large organizations globally through unifying disparate data into a single, complete view to enable better business outcomes. InterSystems’s IRIS for Health – Community Edition enables interoperability between EHRs and health applications, which enables utilization of data across distributed systems. This product arguably makes InterSystems the mac daddy of EHR data integration. What is EHR data integration you ask?

Modern Trials needs to search for patients who meet specific trial eligibility criteria (sometimes 50 or more) from EHR data. This data comes from many different healthcare organizations which means it comes in different formats and structures, and uses different standards, units, conventions and terms. However, for that data to be useful, it must be all made completely uniform. This monumental task is a major challenge when trying to utilize health records from different sources, particularly at scale with millions of records.

It’s incredibly complex and the reason that getting your medical records where and when you or your provider need them seems impossible. InterSystems IRIS for Health – Community Edition is built to do exactly this. Modern Trials will use it to ingest very large amounts of data from different sources (and therefore in disparate formats, structures, etc.) so that it winds up neatly and uniformly formatted on their database. This enables their customers to search that data and get accurate results. Ochner states; “For Modern Trials, this is key; it makes it possible to query this data so the right patients can be found and presented with potentially life-saving opportunities.”

InterSystems, a provider of next-generation data solutions that support mission-critical applications and drive digital transformation, has been the information engine powering some of the world’s most important applications in business, government and healthcare since the 1970’s. Some of their largest healthcare customers are Epic and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Their products have received global industry recognition from Forrester, Gartner and KLAS Research and they have a 45-year history in the digital health sector working with the largest and most successful providers, payers, health networks, and health IT companies in the world. In fact, InterSystems is the world’s most popular data platform for healthcare, with more patient records managed on its technology than any other company. Of particular relevance to Modern Trials, InterSystems has an expansive network of EHR data and numerous healthcare organization clients that could benefit from clinical trial matching services.

The collaboration between Modern Trials and InterSystems aims to solve the previously insurmountable issue of bringing the right patients together with the right trial opportunities, largely facilitated by the EHR data integration enabled by InterSystems. “When we go through all the EHR data, we can pre-screen people without having to bother them,” Ochner explained. “This way we go directly to the individual and we already know that they’re very likely to meet criteria. About 96% of patients want to hear about it. They really appreciate having relevant opportunities brought right to them.”

The collaboration provides benefits for both companies. “InterSystems has a huge footprint in the healthcare space and a sizable but smaller footprint in the life science space,” Ochner stated. “Modern Trials sits right at the intersection of health care and life science and this collaboration illustrates the utility of InterSystems technology for life science customers. Their technology enables us to do what we do so this collaboration will also showcase how Modern Trials enables healthcare organizations to provide advanced treatment options to their patients. We are grateful for the opportunity to demonstrate to InterSystems the value in providing trial recruitment services to their clients through Modern Trials.”

An innovation like Modern Trials, paired with a trusted player in healthcare informatics like InterSystems, could revolutionize the trial recruitment process, potentially solving the most expensive pain point in the therapeutic approval process. This would increase access to new medications and medical devices for patients in need, and reduce the time and cost associated with bringing new therapeutics to market. Ultimately, Modern Trials and InterSystems hope to accomplish the mission of providing the opportunity for a better and longer life to every patient in need.

By Nikki Cabus

Endear Health announces $8M in new funding and additional strategic partners

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Endear Health announced it has successfully closed an $8M funding round from new and current investors including Optum Ventures, Blue Cross of Idaho, 8VC and additional strategic partners.

The funds will be used to accelerate the development and expansion of Endear Health’s proprietary platform, which improves the way value-based care organizations deliver digital experiences to their members.

Endear Health is the first digital engagement platform built for the rapidly evolving value-based landscape and on a mission to fundamentally improve the Medicare experience. Founded in 2021 and backed by Optum Ventures, 8VC and additional strategic partners, Endear Health is focused on reducing the hurdles older adults face while navigating an increasingly digital world through development of innovative consumer-centric engagement solutions. The company believes that seniors who are accustomed to receiving assistance and care across nearly all facets of their daily lives should receive that same high level of support when it comes to how they access healthcare.

According to recent studies, 61% of adults aged 65 and older own a smartphone, and 73% of them use the internet daily1. Endear Health recognizes the untapped potential of technology in improving the lives of older adults and aims to bridge the digital divide by offering user-friendly solutions that cater to their unique needs.

With Endear Health, organizations can offer members a personalized and intuitive digital platform, purposefully designed for seniors, which integrates educational resources, core benefits, and supplemental benefits into a single location. Additionally, through a marketplace of scalable integrations with third-party digital health vendors, Endear Health empowers payors to quickly deploy innovative programs in an efficient manner ultimately resulting in better member satisfaction and improved overall health outcomes.

“Blue Cross of Idaho remains at the forefront of closing gaps in care for Idahoans, and we are constantly seeking innovative, frictionless ways to improve the health and wellness of our members. We are excited to invest in Endear Health’s member-centric, digital solutions that connect seniors with plan benefits, programs, and even reminders for a check-up or screening.” Drew Hobby, Chief Revenue Officer for Blue Cross of Idaho.

The latest funding round represents a significant milestone for Endear Health, reflecting the growing recognition of the company’s promising impact on the healthcare industry, particularly for older adults. With the new capital injection, Endear Health is well-positioned to scale its operations, expand its team, and continue innovating its platform to meet the evolving needs of Medicare Advantage plans and risk-bearing entities nationwide.

“Everyone deserves access to the highest levels of healthcare and support, and at Endear Health, we’re dedicated to making that a reality. Enormously grateful to our exceptional team, advisors, investors and early partners for all their support. More to come!,” wrote Co-Founder & COO, Michael Chappelear, in a recent social media post.

By Nikki Cabus

ChenMed, a leading primary care provider, recognized for using intelligence and automation in HR practices

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ChenMed, a national leading primary care provider based in South Florida, was recently recognized at the Phenom Intelligent Talent Experience Awards as this year’s Intelligent Talent Experience: Advocate of the Year.

Phenom, a purpose-driven HR tech company, recently announced the winners of the Phenom Intelligent Talent Experience Awards, recognizing organizations for exceptional achievements using intelligence, automation and experience to hire employees faster, develop them to their full potential and retain them longer. Through AI-powered solutions, employers increased efficiencies, and saved valuable time for all talent stakeholders — candidates, recruiters, managers, employees, HR and HRIS teams. Award recipients were honored at IAMPHENOM, the company’s premier conference for human resources hosted in Philadelphia.

“We’re celebrating the organizations whose platform use and partnerships are driving lasting impact across their businesses, their industries, their teams and HR as a whole,” said Jess Elmquist, Chief Human Resources Officer at Phenom.

On a mission to hire faster and better and simultaneously empower employee development and mobility with a talent marketplace, ChenMed is a model example for hypergrowth peers. By infusing hyper-personalized experiences into their hiring, development and retention strategies, ChenMed has increased quality applies, reduced time to fill and improved employee retention despite a challenging talent landscape.

When three out of every four professionals in healthcare are looking to leave the industry, providing a better talent experience is no longer optional — it’s critical to hire, develop, and retain workers.

Being a rapidly-growing primary care provider, ChenMed knows this firsthand. To succeed, they needed:

  • A reliable, robust talent community of quality candidates
  • An improved candidate experience for both internal and external job seekers
  • Automated, time-saving talent acquisition processes for recruiters

ChenMed is a family-owned, family-oriented organization serving underserved moderate-to-low-income seniors with complex chronic diseases. The company’s high-touch, VIP, preventive primary care works for patients and team members. Unlike typical primary care providers, ChenMed has a much lower doctor-patient ratio which allows doctors to spend more time with their patients, getting to know them and their concerns so we can better serve them. ChenMed has 100+ centers across 15 states and is a privately held and physician-led company.

“Because we’re in hypergrowth, we’re looking for ways to automate things so our recruiters don’t have to do them. Phenom helps us do that so our recruiters aren’t bogged down by administrative tasks and have time to spend with candidates,” stated Christin Davis, ChenMed’s Managing Director of HR Operations and Technology.

Above all, the ChenMed culture is what’s most important for Davis and her team to maintain: “This company’s mission is simple: helping seniors live longer and healthier lives. The only way to manage that mission is to buy into it. Now that we can easily see who identifies with our culture, it’s easier to make the right hiring choices.”

ChenMed is using the Phenom Intelligent Talent Experience platform to increase applies, reduce time to fill, and level employee turnover. Through AI-powered solutions, ChenMed is increasing efficiencies and saving valuable time for candidates, recruiters, managers, employees, HR, and HRIS teams and in a candidate-driven market time could cost you.

Additionally, when candidates have options, a streamlined professional and timely process helps give candidates the first impression they are looking for and HR professionals not lose out on that next best candidate.

Phenom has a purpose of helping a billion people find the right job. Through AI-powered talent experiences, employers are using Phenom to hire employees faster, develop them to their full potential, and retain them longer. The Phenom Intelligent Talent Experience platform seamlessly connects candidates, employees, recruiters, hiring managers, HR and HRIS — empowering over 500 diverse and global enterprises with innovative products including Phenom Career Site, Chatbot, CMS, CRM, AI Scheduling, Video Assessments, Campaigns, University Recruiting, Talent Marketplace, Career Pathing, Gigs, Mentoring, and Referrals.

Phenom has earned accolades including: Inc. 5000’s fastest-growing companies (3 consecutive years), Deloitte Technology’s Fast 500 (4 consecutive years), five Brandon Hall ‘Excellence in Technology’ awards including Gold for ‘Best Advance in AI for Business Impact,’ Business Intelligence Group’s Artificial Intelligence Excellence Awards (3 consecutive years), and a regional Timmy Award for launching and optimizing HelpOneBillion.com (2020).

Click here to read more about all award recipients.

By Nikki Cabus

Getting to know Boca Raton-based ModMed’s new CTO Venkatesh Jayaraman

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Boca Raton-based practice technology leader ModMed® appointed Venkatesh Jayaraman (VJ) as the company’s Chief Technology Officer.

Jayaraman leads the strategic direction and technical leadership for the product engineering organization, including cloud operations.

With over 25 years of technology and software development experience, Jayaraman brings an extensive record of success in technical leadership, cross-functional product development and software architecture. He has a proven record of building business agility using Lean-Agile practices while managing large-scale enterprise organizations across multiple geographies.

ModMed is transforming healthcare by placing doctors and patients at the center of care through an intelligent, specialty-specific cloud platform. With electronic health records (EHR) and practice management (PM) systems, and revenue cycle management (RCM) services, their all-in-one solution empowers specialty medical practices by providing clinical, financial, and operational software solutions. ModMed’s staff physicians help to develop products and services for allergy, dermatology, gastroenterology, OBGYN, ophthalmology, orthopedics, otolaryngology, pain management, plastic surgery, podiatry, and urology practices, as well as ambulatory surgery centers.

“VJ’s background and experience will deliver tremendous value to our organization, as he embodies ModMed’s cultural values around aligning passion with purpose,” said Daniel Cane, ModMed Cofounder and CEO. “We have welcomed him to our team as we work together to transform how healthcare information is created, consumed and utilized to increase practice efficiency and improve patient outcomes.”

Jayaraman most recently served on the executive leadership team at Vertex Inc., where he led the cloud/SaaS transformation of the product engineering organization, including cloud operations using agile methodology, modern DevOps and site reliability engineering principles. Prior to Vertex, he was in various leadership roles at Citrix Systems and Motorola, where he built and scaled agility across a globally distributed engineering team to achieve software engineering excellence. He holds a master’s degree in engineering management from the University of Florida and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from India’s National Institute of Technology.

 

GETTING TO KNOW VJ:

1. What are you looking forward to most in your new role with ModMed?
Using cutting edge technology to transform how healthcare information is created, consumed and utilized to increase practice efficiency and improve patient outcomes. Really looking forward to the opportunity to create simple workflow solutions for complex problems with valuable, meaningful impact. ModMed’s product portfolio does align passion with purpose where we can impact the lives of practice providers and patients in a big way by creating excellent software that delights them.

2. What do you love most about the healthtech industry?
The healthcare industry has always been full of untapped opportunities for technology innovation and workflow optimizations. COVID just exposed some of these opportunities in many ways. Healthcare is unique with respect to regulatory and interoperability demands. Coupled with the fact that healthcare software is only expected to benefit from the overall growth in US healthcare spend makes it a very exciting ground for making a positive impact.

3. What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter the healthtech industry?
Keep an open mind in terms of connecting their passion, skills, knowledge and experience for the various innovation opportunities that present using technologies like cloud, ML / AI, big data etc.

4. Any insight into what’s next for ModMed?
ModMed has had a phenomenal journey so far. From the initial momentum that we have gained, we are very well poised for creating our own flywheel effect to accelerate faster and faster, and gain even more momentum while building this organization for scale and growth. I am very excited by what’s to come and truly honored to be part of defining this journey.

5. From the 90s to now, what has been the biggest change you have seen in our local tech markets?
There have been quite a lot of changes in the local tech markets in the last 2-3 decades that have followed the industry trend largely. The tech industry itself has evolved from the PC computing, hardware & communications related innovations to more software based innovations with the advent of internet and cloud. Back in the 90s, we had quite a few tech companies like Siemens, IBM, Motorola etc. and they all have evolved with this changing landscape. With the advancements in cloud computing, even concepts as esoteric as Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence have become so accessible to the engineering community that they can be easily harnessed for the next generation of innovations. The core to this evolution is “business agility” and the companies that do that with the right talent and leadership thrive in the face of this changing landscape. Also, the promotion of STEM education in local schools and colleges has really propelled this pace of innovation and South Florida is on a path to excellence in making its mark in the tech industry.

6. All in on AI? What’s your thoughts on the future of generative AI in healthcare? 
Generative AI can be applied in various use cases to generate virtually any kind of content. The technology is becoming more accessible to users of all kinds thanks to cutting-edge generative AI interfaces like ChatGPT, Dall-E and Bard that can be tuned for different applications. With generative AI technology, doctors, hospitals, clinics and beyond may be able to streamline patient care and improve health outcomes with significant advantages like personalized healthcare for patients, predictive maintenance of medical devices and supporting administrative tasks to improve efficiency. Despite their promise, the new generative AI tools open a can of worms regarding accuracy, trustworthiness, bias, hallucination and plagiarism — ethical issues that likely will take years to sort out. None of the issues are particularly new to AI though. Just like any other technology, I am confident and cautiously optimistic that the generative AI would mature to bring the bigger benefits that we all aspire for.

7. No matter our role or level, we are always learning. What’s one thing – either industry-related or not – you learned in the last month?
I am a big believer of being a continuous learner while pivoting and adapting to changing landscape of needs. The mantra should be to plan the work and work the plan but be flexible and realistic to adapt for best outcomes. One of the books that I have been reading of late is Limitless by Jim Kwik. In this book, he overturns the conventional ideas of intelligence, achievement and perceived limitations with a compelling and practical handbook for change. It is based on the concept of all of us having boundless capabilities and what we make of them has everything to do with mindset and application.

8. Outside of work, do you play any sports or have any hobbies? What do you do for fun?
Yes, I play tennis, volleyball, chess etc. whenever time permits. Also, I like to read different books and spend time with my family. Love to explore and  experience the world through various travels to create a wholesome life!

9. What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know?
I used to play cricket early on in my career and I received a trophy from the cricketing legend Clive Lloyd for my performance in the finals of a tournament that was played in the Central Broward Cricket Stadium in Lauderhill. Another fun fact is that I had to find a way to overcome acrophobia (thanks to the constant nudge from my daughter) to do ziplining with my family in Costa Rica recently.

 

Learn more about ModMed’s leadership team here. 

By Nikki Cabus

StartUP FIU Students Develop Innovative Strategies to Tackle Healthcare Disparities for Pharmaceutical Giant GSK

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StartUP FIU, the innovation hub at Florida International University, partnered with GSK, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, established a hands-on, multi-disciplinary experience that inspired students to develop new and creative solutions to dismantle health disparities in minority communities.

In addition to being part of a nation-wide effort to improve health outcomes for minority communities and making a positive impact in the medical field, students selected for the program received corporate internship credits, the experience of learning from leaders and experts in the healthcare industry, and earning $1,000 for their efforts.

Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s commitment to equity and access, the 12-week GSK Innovation Challenge had a goal of honoring the legacy of this great man by igniting in a new generation the desire to fight for justice in the healthcare sphere. Reflecting the values of Dr. King, GSK is focused on the social determinants of health and is working to ensure high-quality, inclusive healthcare services and education is accessible to all. GSK is a global biopharma company with a purpose to unite science, technology, and talent to get ahead of disease together.

This experiential, hands-on challenge leveraged the lived experiences and diverse backgrounds of 34 FIU undergraduate students, 96% of whom hail from minority communities. Students with Hispanic, African American and Asian backgrounds are often able to offer personal perspectives into health disparities. In this case, the program addressed the low rates of vaccines in marginalized communities.

“These students really rose to the challenge with compelling and creative solutions and all the program mentors deserve a big thank you for their guidance” said Maya Martinez-Davis, GSK US President. “Some of these students learned about health disparities for the first time while others brought their shared experiences. Our goal is to close the gap in underserved communities by developing the next generation of innovators. The partnership between GSK and StartUP FIU is just one of many steps towards achieving that.”

FIU’s unique status as the country’s largest Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) with more than 32,000 students who identify as Hispanic or Latino, makes it an ideal place for global companies like GSK to get ‘on the ground’ perspectives from the communities they want to serve. Educating students across campus, many from different parts of the world, StartUP FIU offers a vibrant array of diverse outlooks, life experiences and cultural values that help organizations better understand their customer base and plan for a dynamic future.

Throughout the GSK Innovation Challenge, students from a variety of majors were guided by public health and entrepreneurship mentors to delve deeper into how minority communities make health care decisions, what sources they trust, who they listen to for medical information and how their lifestyles
either facilitate or impede positive healthcare decisions.

“This unique Challenge offered our students the opportunity to creatively explore a serious population health issue and brainstorm innovative ways to drive communities towards making healthy decisions,” said Emily Gresham, Assistant Vice President for Research, Innovation and Economic Development and Co-Founder of StartUP FIU.

At the end of the 12-week GSK Innovation Challenge, seven student groups pitched their solutions for increasing vaccination rates to GSK leadership. The Pitch Day event, held Friday, April 14, showcased the creativity and novel thinking that can occur when students are empowered with the tools of innovation and supported by expert mentors in the industry.

Members of GSK leadership who came to StartUP FIU to judge the student pitches were impressed by the creativity, thoughtfulness and hard work shown by FIU students.

 

PITCH DAY WINNERS

1ST PLACE

Winning Idea:

Collaborate with companies that have large Hispanic workforces to include at-work vaccination events and other healthcare programs to streamline the patient experience

Team Members:

Vinai Sewaliah, Akerke Parmbek, Christian Castellanos & MaAngelica Subido

 

 

2ND PLACE

Winning Idea:

Targeted advertising campaign focused on influencing mothers, who usually make healthcare decisions for the entire family.

Team Members:

Daniella Diaz, Emily Gresham, Lina Henriquez & Yasha Hasan, Chloe Posthuma-Coelho

 

 

3RD PLACE (TIE)

Winning Idea:

Targeted advertising campaign focused on influencing mothers, who usually make healthcare decisions for the entire family.

Team Members:

Devin Shanahan, Owethu Phekani, Itzel Castellon, Yomaira Ayala Daboin

 

 

3RD PLACE (TIE)

Winning Idea:

Work with faith-based organizations to educate congregations about shingles and prevention.

Team Members:

Aditi Mishra, Katherine Mejia

 

 

 

The GSK Innovation Challenge is just one example of how StartUP FIU uses hands-on, experiential learning opportunities to help students implement the core concepts of innovation and entrepreneurship towards solving real-world challenges.

“By adapting what they’ve learned in the classroom to help companies solve some of their toughest problems, students gain confidence in their skillset and learn how to think critically,” said Robert H. Hacker, Director and Co-Founder of StartUP FIU and one of the Challenge’s entrepreneurial mentors.

StartUP FIU is a university-wide innovation hub that fosters and develops entrepreneurship and innovation to help our students, researchers, and community connect, contribute to, and thrive in today’s fast-changing world. We create and run programs based on two foundational beliefs: that the skills and principles of entrepreneurship are essential to navigate and harness the opportunities of our disruptive age, and that universities can play a unique role in unlocking opportunity and unleashing potential to shape a better, more inclusive, and more innovative future.

By Riley Kaminer

Here’s to another 13 years of healthtech innovation for Modernizing Medicine

Read Time 3 Minutes

The US healthcare sector is rife with inefficiencies – from uneven care to overworked medical professionals to outdated digital systems. In a country that spends almost 20% of our GDP on healthcare, there remains a large opportunity to create better outcomes for patients and better working environments for providers.

For the last 13 years, Boca Raton-based Modernizing Medicine, now known as “ModMed.” has worked tirelessly to improve the tech tools that keep us healthy. They have developed a wide range of specialty-specific electronic health record (EHR) systems and solutions, practice management platforms, revenue cycle management software, and more.

And in an interview with South Florida Tech Hub, co-founder and CEO Daniel Cane said that this is just the beginning for the 3,400-person company.

“You can expect to see more growth, including coverage of more specialties throughout the US – and we will certainly become international,” Cane said of his plans for the company’s next 13 years. 

As for what accomplishment he is most proud of in Modernizing Medicine’s history thus far, Cane said that it was “creating an incredible culture and environment for all our team members.” Building a strong company culture creates lots of work and is a top down effort at ModMed, with Cane still personally meeting every new member of the team.

So is Cane ready for his next venture? Not quite yet. The entrepreneur, who previously co-founded EdTech giant Blackboard, said that he is still laser focused on tackling some of the many issues still plaguing the healthcare industry. “I’ve got a lot more work cut out for me, fixing healthcare and making sure that ModMed is incredibly successful.”

Of course, ModMed has already reached a level of success that most companies will never see. It has 3,400 employees around the world – 700 of whom are based in Modernizing Medicine’s headquarters at the Boca Raton Innovation Campus, IBM’s former R&D facility.

So what advice would Cane give to budding entrepreneurs?

“100% of big companies you see today started off as a small company, so remember to dream big.” Cane also admitted that he has had more failed companies than successful ones, and that is normal. “If you’re going to fail, fail fast. You can learn a lot from those failures.” He noted that while someone might be born an innovator, entrepreneurship – building, running, and scaling businesses – requires a specific set of skills that can be taught.

As ModMed has grown over the last 13 years, so has South Florida’s tech ecosystem, noted Cane. But he urged us to recall that South Florida has had a long tradition of innovation, not least of which includes IBM’s storied past in Boca.

“South Florida is on the map as a strong entrepreneurial hub,” he asserted. This is despite any turbulence caused, for example, by the decline of crypto.

“Our biggest challenge is our geography,” said Cane, noting that South Florida is very long but not very wide, and lacks a main downtown area. “South Florida Tech Hub is essential for bringing all of our amazing companies together.”

 

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DSS Director of Strategic Innovation Meggie Soliman Wins IGNITE 2024 Award
Carewell Secures $24.7 Million in Series B Funding and hires former Chewy executives
JA Inspire 2024 inspires middle school students in Palm Beach County
ChenMed Names Steve Nelson CEO, Chris Chen Executive Board Chair
ModMed Appoint Joe Harpaz to Co-CEO After 6 Years in Leadership
A Small Startup with Big Backing is Betting it can Fix Clinical Trials and has Issued a Challenge to Find Out
DSS Wins Third Place in the precisionFDA Veterans Cardiac Health and AI Model Predictions Challenge
Delray Beach-based Cyrno Therapeutics secures funding for smell loss treatment
Successful Ft. Lauderdale-based Enhance Health acquires local JET Health Solutions
Modern Trials and InterSystems Collaborate to Transform Clinical Trial Recruitment
Endear Health announces $8M in new funding and additional strategic partners
ChenMed, a leading primary care provider, recognized for using intelligence and automation in HR practices
Getting to know Boca Raton-based ModMed’s new CTO Venkatesh Jayaraman
StartUP FIU Students Develop Innovative Strategies to Tackle Healthcare Disparities for Pharmaceutical Giant GSK
Here’s to another 13 years of healthtech innovation for Modernizing Medicine