August 22, 2017

How a Miami tech company is bringing the doctor’s office into the digital age

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Ken portrait 1This year, CareCloud, the Miami-based healthcare technology company that provides a software platform for high-performing medical groups, has recently added two executives to its C-suite. It released a new product for the promising field of telemedicinefueled with a $31.5 million financing round at the end of last year. And its chief executive, Ken Comée, says more company developments are in the pipeline for later this year.

“EHR [electronic health records] is where we started but now we are moving out into where the patient is involved. When you walk into the doctor office, they give you a clipboard. We are eradicating the clipboard” with sophisticated automation tools, Comée said, without revealing too many details about CareCloud’s product plans. “Patients are demanding ease of use when they go to the doctors. We see this as an opportunity for doctors to provide ease of use, ease of access; those are the technologies that will make the practices more efficient and drive customer loyalty.”

Comée took the helm as CEO in April 2015, relocating from California. Previously, Comée was CEO at Cast Iron Systems, a cloud integration company acquired by IBM. He was also CEO of PowerReviews, a leader in product ratings and reviews, also acquired, and CEO of Badgeville, a gamification startup. Before assuming the helm of CareCloud, he was a CareCloud board member, investor and operational adviser.

“When I came on board, there was such promise in the company, but something needed help. It was the classic ‘founder got it to a certain level,’ ” Comée said. “We had to fix a few things, slow things down and focus on building the right foundation for what we are now seeing — the growth engine. You will start seeing us getting very aggressive.”

CareCloud, founded by Albert Santalo in 2009, grew quickly to become one of South Florida’s most successful early-stage technology companies. It currently manages more than $4 billion in annualized accounts receivables. CareCloud now has about 250 employees, about 180 of them in Miami, Comée said. He declined to disclose revenues, only saying, “We are adding 40 to 60 new clients per quarter and I think that will continue to accelerate.”

The Miami Herald discussed the company’s growth, trends in the industry and what’s next for CareCloud with Comée last month. Here are excerpts of the conversation.

Q. You arrived in April 2015. What was your goal for the company then and have your goals changed?

A. My primary goal then and now actually is the same — focus. There’s a tendency for early-stage companies to try to do too much. Success is about doing a few things really well. For CareCloud, that means building the best cloud solution in the market and having customers who rave about it.

Q. I see you have hired a chief revenue officer and a chief financial officer in 2017. Is the top management team now where you want it to be?

A. For the chief revenue officer, I went out and got a real pro. Greg Shorten had spent 12 years building Allscripts. ... He is a terrific sales leader. ...

My CFO, Shari VanLoo, and I worked together at my first company that I sold to IBM. As I look at this company and the opportunity to go public in three, four or five years, I need someone of her background and stature for that potential outcome. She has a lot of experience taking companies to market. Yes, my management team is set for now.

Q. I think you just answered one of my questions about whether going public is in the plans?

A. I think it absolutely is. My competitors are 20- and 30-year-old technologies, and I have the best damn platform in the space. Personally, I would love to take one out public. I’ve had a couple of acquisitions and those are nice, but I would love to build a legacy company.”

Q. Healthcare is moving more and more to a consumer-focused model. How is CareCloud leveraging that trend?

A. CareCloud always has been focused on delivering incredible software to the people who deliver healthcare, whether it’s clinicians, practice administrators, billing professionals or others in the practice. With the paradigm shifting from a payer-provider to a provider-patient focus, we’re building technology that allows patients to have the same kind of technology that they have in other parts of their lives, whether it’s booking a restaurant, checking in for a flight or paying their bills online.

Because consumers are taking a more central role as money managers for their healthcare, we’re putting a lot of focus on supporting physician practices and their patients with tools that make it easy and convenient for people to view and pay their financial balances.

Q. It sounds like that is a reason for your recent move into telemedicine. Why do you think telemedicine hasn’t taken off like it was expected to?

A. People want to be able to access their personal physician when they can’t physically make it into the office, but until this point, telemedicine has been dominated by stand-alone service companies. It hasn’t become mainstream within private medical practices for two primary reasons: daunting upfront costs and uncertainty about what will be reimbursed by payers. With more insurers reimbursing for telemedicine and new guidelines coming online, the regulatory and reimbursement landscape is taking care of the latter.

We recently launched CareCloud Telemedicine to remove the other main barrier of burdensome upfront costs and time required to integrate telemedicine into the practice work-flows.

Q. You are also getting more involved in specialty areas now. Why?

A. There are certain nuances in clinical work-flow management that are unique to specific specialties. Now that physicians are using their second or third generation of EHR, they are asking themselves not just “how does this EHR work for me?” but “how does this EHR work for me as an ophthalmologist, an orthopedic surgeon, a rheumatologist?”

While meaningful use regulations have helped advance the adoption of technology in the medical practice, they have had the unintended consequence of cluttering EHR user interfaces with information that isn’t relevant for certain specialties. With the focus shifting from demonstrating use to demonstrating value, we’re in a great position to leverage the flexibility of cloud technology to give specialists an EHR solution that illuminates that set of information that they need to answer a specific question or to complete a certain clinical or administrative task.

Q. How is the millennial generation shaping your road map?

A. Millennials were born on digital. While they don’t yet use healthcare as much as older generations, they do expect to have the same kind of experience in the doctor’s office as they do in other aspects of their lives. Online health portals, telemedicine, online reviews, scheduling apps and e-payment options are just some of the ways millennials are using tech to manage their healthcare.

And, we’re in the very early days of digital health. For CareCloud, this means building a platform that gives physician practices the flexibility to bring on whatever technology will help them deliver that level of personalized service and support that their patients need. It also means creating tools that free up clinicians and practice staff so they can focus on delivering great outcomes and an excellent consumer experience.

Q. The small doctor practice is under pressure and we are seeing more consolidation. What does that mean for CareCloud?

A. Think about what it takes to consolidate a dozen brick-and-mortar doctor’s offices. You’ve got multiple physical locations operating on different EHRs, practice management, and IT systems to contend with — not to mention mountains of paper and fax machines. In the past, it would have been a monstrous, multi-year task to integrate all of these systems ... even to get all the locations simply talking to each other! And of course, the resulting labyrinth of servers and software would do very little to streamline operations.

To realize the efficiencies and economies of scale inherent in the model, many of these practices are joining together to operate as one entity. These practices need to knit together geographically dispersed medical practices around a centralized technology backbone. They need to have patient data, billing and practice management, and other services managed from a unified platform.

This is where CareCloud comes in. With cloud-based technology, these groups can bring everyone together on a common, shared infrastructure. Physicians and administrative staff can access information via a uniform, universal browser rather than a complex patchwork of legacy systems. Systems can talk to each other via secure, open APIs. Groups can also create standardized playbooks for accounting, payroll, and marketing, allowing them to quickly ramp up new practices as they’re acquired and merged.

The power of cloud technology as a force multiplier for growth can’t be overstated. Cloud technology makes the entire consolidation model exponentially more attractive, feasible and cost-effective.

Q. More broadly, how does healthcare learn about disruption from other industries?

A. If you think about how you go about your everyday life — how you get information, make decisions, plan activities, connect with others — the Internet is woven into almost everything we do. Except for when we’re at the doctor’s office. There are so many opportunities for us to align healthcare to where the market and society has already moved and to leverage best-in-breed technology from other industries.

Q. What’s next for CareCloud?

A. We’re going to continue to innovate around all the constituents in healthcare — the clinicians, the staff, the patients. We’ve historically focused on technology to support those working “behind the glass” and while we’ll continue to do that, we also are innovating “in front of the glass.” We’re working with some incredible strategic partners to apply best-in-breed consumer technology from other industries such as banking and retail to create an outstanding patient experience. We’re excited to be able to democratize this technology for independent medical practices.

Q. In your view as a relative newcomer — almost 2.5 years now — what is South Florida’s strength as an emerging center for technology, and where does it still need work?

A. There is a lot of entrepreneurial spirit here — that’s a strength that just keeps building on itself. South Florida can take a few pages from Silicon Valley in how it has nurtured a healthy ecosystem for innovation and startups. Silicon Valley succeeds by combining that entrepreneurial spirit with educational infrastructure and capital to fuel ideas and bring them to market. South Florida has these assets individually. They need to be brought together and become a humming engine to power innovative disruption across industries.

Q. Have you been able to find the tech talent you need?

A. The answer is yes. It’s not as prevalent and you have to dig for it but it’s here. I do believe there has to be a lot of thought and care put into creating the education curriculum around healthcare IT. This will be a booming space as we move from the old client servers of the world to a cloud-based world. If we can train them, we can hire them.

Q. What’s the best career advice you’ve received and from whom?

A. Promod Haque, a senior managing partner at Norwest Venture Partners, offered some great advice that has stuck with me over the years. I share this often because it is so important and so easy to forget in the high-pressure environment of a startup. He said, “When you have a failure, remember it’s not about the person, it’s about the event. Don’t let failure scare you or define you. The freedom to fail is a unique and an essential part of innovating.”

Nancy Dahlberg: 305-376-3595, @ndahlberg

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KEN COMÉE

Age: 54

Title: Chief executive officer at CareCloud. Before assuming the helm of CareCloud in April 2015, he was a CareCloud board member, investor and operational adviser for three years.

Experience: Formerly CEO of PowerReviews, a social commerce network that powers customer conversations on more than 5,500 websites. Also CEO of Cast Iron Systems, a global leader in the cloud integration sector acquired by IBM. Comée also held executive positions at CollabNet, a software development pioneer in the cloud, and at product life-cycle leader PTC.

Education: Bachelor’s of science in finance from Santa Clara University and an MBA from the London Business School.

Favorite book: “The Boys in the Boat,” by Daniel James Brown

CareCloud website: www.carecloud.com.

August 03, 2017

Apply now for second cohort of Startupbootcamp Digital Health

Applications for Startupbootcamp's Digital Health innovation program in Miami are now open. Submit your application and you could be one of the companies selected to gain access to a national network of healthcare providers, insurers and investors. The application deadline is Oct. 6
 

Selected companies will receive:

  • Implementation opportunities with leading hospital systems including the Miami Children's Hospital, University of Miami, Jackson Health, Mayo Clinic (Jacksonville), Carolinas, local and national insurers, pharma and many others
  • Extensive mentorship from industry leading experts, entrepreneurs and investors 
  • $20K with up to a $100K convertible note and access to follow-on capital 
  • Office space in the heart of Miami
  • $500K in partner services from Google, Amazon, Salesforce, Intel and Paypal

- Submitted by Startupbootcamp Digital Health

July 27, 2017

Modernizing Medicine to add 838 jobs, double office space

Health-tech company Modernizing Medicine announced on Thursday that it will be expanding, creating more than 800 new jobs and doubling its office space in Boca Raton.

Modernizing Medicine currently employs about 550 people and is generating $100 million in revenues annually, making it one of South Florida’s largest and fastest-growing tech companies. “There are not many companies growing as fast as Modernizing Medicine — in the world,” said Gov. Rick Scott, who was on hand for the announcement in Boca Raton.

Modernizing Medicine will receive $6 million in state, county and city incentives for creating the jobs by 2022, according to the Sun Sentinel. The 838 new, mostly software positions will have an average salary of $65,000 a year. In exchange, Modernizing Medicine will make a $15 million investment in the region.

To handle its growth, Modernizing Medicine is leasing 50,000 square feet at Boca Raton Innovation Campus, former home of IBM, to add to its similarly sized headquarters space at the FAU Research Park and an office in Weston. In May, Modernizing Medicine announced it had received a $231 million investment from private equity firm Warburg Pincus. “If there was any doubt that you could found and scale a company in South Florida, hopefully those doubts are now erased,” CEO Dan Cane said at the time.

Founded in 2010 by Cane and Dr. Michael Sherling, Modernizing Medicine has been one of the recent tech success stories in South Florida. Cane, a serial entrepreneur who earlier in his career co-founded and exited education-tech company Blackboard, met Sherling, his future co-founder, in the doctor’s office. Modernizing Medicine’s flagship product is EMA, which is a mobile, cloud-based, specialty-specific electronic health record system now used by more than 10,000 providers at thousands of specialty practices nationwide, and the company now offers a full suite of products and services including practice management, revenue cycle management, telehealth for dermatology and analytics.

July 12, 2017

Venture capital surges in Q2 in Florida and nationally, MoneyTree Report shows

  Money

South Florida health-tech companies Modernizing Medicine and Neocis led Florida venture capital deals in the second quarter.

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

South Florida healthcare-technology companies led Florida venture capital deals in the second quarter, according to a MoneyTree report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and CB Insights released Wednesday.

Florida deals in the quarter were led by Boca Raton-based Modernizing Medicine’s previously reported $231 million mega-round by global private equity firm Warburg Pincus. Modernizing Medicine currently employs 550 people and is booking $100 million in annual revenue. “If there was any doubt that you could found and scale a company in South Florida, hopefully those doubts are now erased,” CEO and co-founder Dan Cane said when the funding was announced. “We are proud to call South Florida our home.”

Second in the state was Neocis, a Miami-based robotics company in the dental industry, with a $15 million round that included Mithril Capital Management of San Francisco, a venture firm led by Peter Thiel and Ajay Royan, and other undisclosed investors. According to Crunchbase, Neocis raised $2.4 million prior to this funding.

Neocis is focused on improving healthcare through robotic assistance. It manufactures and markets YOMI, a robot-assisted surgical platform for dental implant procedures. The company, led by CEO and co-founder Alon Mozes, announced it had received FDA clearance to market YOMI and that it had made its first couple of sales in March. “We look forward to further demonstrating the benefits of YOMI to the surgeon’s practice and their patients and to bringing the system to select key opinion leaders in the United States,” Mozes, a biomedical engineer, said in March.

Florida companies took in 16 venture capital deals worth $291.1 million in the second quarter, up strongly from $156.9 million in the first quarter and $85.7 million a year ago, according to MoneyTree data. Of course, South Florida firms accounted for more than 85 percent of the total, thanks largely to Modernizing Medicine. Still, the nation’s third largest state ranked 11th for venture capital in the quarter, for both amount of financings and number of deals.

In addition to Modernizing Medicine and Neocis, South Florida companies that received investment in the second quarter included human analytics software company Kairos, $5.73 million, in a round that includes funding from New World Angels, and DadeSystems, which provides accounts-receivable solutions and received $2 million from Ocean Azul Partners.

Nationally, venture capital rose to the highest level in a year as investors deployed $18.4 billion to U.S. VC-backed startup companies across 1,153 deals, up 28 percent in dollars but down 4 percent in deals from Q1 2017, according to the MoneyTree survey. This was helped by 31 mega-rounds of $100 million or more. Lyft’s $600 million round was the biggest deal of the quarter. MoneyTree Report results can be found at www.pwcmoneytree.com.

“Q2 was a tale of two trends,” said Tom Ciccolella, U.S. venture capital leader at PwC. “U.S. deal activity continued its multi-quarter downward trend, but the growth rate of investments in dollar terms accelerated from the first quarter. A surge in mega-found deals, to the second-highest level seen to date, helped drive a robust level of quarterly VC funding.”

This was the second venture capital report this week. Tuesday, data from the Pitchbook-NVCA Venture Monitor, which characterizes and compiles qualifying deals differently, showed that South Florida was No. 1 in the nation for exits in the second quarter -- thanks to Chewy's $3 billion-plus sale to PetSmart. 

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

Neocis

Alon Mozes, left, and Juan Salcedo started the healthcare robotics company Neocis. They are shown with an early version of Neocis’ robotic guidance system for the fast-growing dental implant market, which received FDA clearance and is now being marketed. Both co-founders worked together at Mako Surgical before founding Neocis. November 2015 photo by Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald.

June 15, 2017

Wanted: 'Fearless, ambitious and extraordinary entrepreneurs' for startupbootcamp Miami

 

By Christian Seale

Today, we are excited to announce the launch of applications for the second cohort of our digital health innovation program, startupbootcamp Miami.

If you share our passion and vision to transform healthcare, we want to meet you. Apply here!

We are a year older and have assembled an even deeper bench of local and national healthcare providers, insurers, pharma companies, industry leaders and top-tier healthcare investors committed to helping you refine and scale your companies.

Boot1Last year our program resulted in multiple implementations, customer contracts and financings for our portfolio companies from the likes of Miami Children’s Health System, University of Miami, Florida Blue, Jackson Health System, Univision and many others (read more here). Local entrepreneur Wolf Shlagman, CEO of CareAngel and founder of Consult-a-Doc (sold to Teladoc and Kleiner Perkins) highlighted: "the program surpassed our expectations and resulted in multiple customer contracts and venture financing. I highly recommend this program to any serious entrepreneur looking to take their healthcare business to the next level."  (pictured here: Rene Lerer, President Florida Blue, discusses healthcare reform with Startupbootcamp entrepreneurs.)

We encourage you to apply and accelerate your business. We are looking for fearless, ambitious and extraordinary entrepreneurs working at the intersection of healthcare and technology with proven and tested models and committed to making our system more equitable, efficient and accessible for all. If chosen to participate, you will receive funding, implementation and contract opportunities, mentorship from our dedicated expert network, office space and a comprehensive suite of portfolio and in-kind services.

We are proud to be part of Miami’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem recently named the top city in startup activity by the Kauffman Foundation and grateful to be recognized by Inc. for our work to build the city into a globally recognized hub for healthcare innovation.

We invite you to join us and our partners at the Knight Foundation, Miami Children’s Hospital and many others as we build Miami into a globally recognized hub for innovation and together transform the future of healthcare. If you are a healthcare entrepreneur, please reach out and set up a time for virtual office hours.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Christian Seale is founder and managing director of startupbootcamp Miami. Follow on Twitter @sbchealth. For more information, email digitalhealth@startupbootcamp.com.

 

Boot3

Shane Battier, NBA and NCAA Champion, shared leadership lessons with Startupbootcamp entrepreneurs.

Boot2

Dr. Maurice Ferre Jr., Co-Founder of Mako Surgical and CEO of Insightec, shares lessons on building and selling a company with Startupbootcamp entrepreneurs.

Boot4

A panel discusses the future of digital health in South Florida at Startupbootcamp’s Demo Day. From left: Christian Seale of Startupbootcamp, Jaret Davis of Greenberg Traurig, Elizabeth Lopez of Miami Children’s Health System and Juan Ortiz of Sonas Home Health Care.

Photos provided by startupbootcamp Miami

 

May 10, 2017

Boca Raton-based Modernizing Medicine attracts $231 million in funding

ModMed

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Health-technology company Modernizing Medicine announced Wednesday that Warburg Pincus, a global private equity firm focused on growth-stage companies, has invested $231 million into the company.

The funding will be used to provide liquidity to existing shareholders, fund further expansion and support future strategic endeavors, said Daniel Cane, CEO of the fast-growing Boca Raton-based company. “It’s a great firm, a great fund, it’s good people ... With this investment we infused some additional jet fuel into our company to be able to execute even more aggressively, to be able to hire and innovate and bring great products and solutions,” Cane said in an interview Wednesday.

Modernizing Medicine currently employs 550 people and is booking $100 million in annual revenue. “If there was any doubt that you could found and scale a company in South Florida, hopefully those doubts are now erased,” Cane said.

Founded in 2010 by Cane and Dr. Michael Sherling (pictured above), Modernizing Medicine has been one of the recent tech success stories in South Florida. Cane, a serial entrepreneur who earlier in his career co-founded and exited education-tech company Blackboard, met Sherling, his future co-founder, in the doctor’s office.

Modernizing Medicine’s flagship product is EMA, which is a mobile, cloud-based, specialty-specific electronic health record system now used by more than 10,000 providers at thousands of specialty practices nationwide, and the company now offers a full suite of products and services including practice management, revenue cycle management, telehealth for dermatology, analytics and more. Before this latest mega-round of funding, Modernizing Medicine had raised about $100 million, including $38 million in 2015.

“We’ve been quiet the last year but we’ve been executing,” said Cane. “We have an incredible team and we continue to grow. We still serve only a handful of specialties – we remain focused – but we do more within each specialty than we ever have in the past.” 

Cane said the latest round of funding will allow it to pursue strategic objectives that not only benefit physicians and their practices but also the patient. “We are building a lot of mobile patient engagement applications, looking at ecommerce, looking at telemedicine,” he said. That includes investing in technologies that streamline “prior authorization” to allow more patients to get the treatments they need faster, said Cane. In ecommerce, there are other opportunities to streamline processes that complement a patient’s treatment, and telemedicine has particular potential to take off in dermatology, Modernizing Medicine’s largest specialty with about 6,000 providers, Cane said.

Modernizing Medicine now has three South Florida locations, its main headquarters in the Research Park at FAU, a temporary space in the Boca Raton Innovation Center while its new space there is being built out, and a Weston office. “We are always hiring,” said Cane. Indeed, more than three dozen job openings are listed on Modernizing Medicine’s webite, including for engineers in product development and product management, as well as for positions in marketing, sales and legal.

Fred Hassan, managing director of Warburg Pincus and the former CEO and chairman of Schering Plough, and Amr Kronfol, Warburg Pincus principal, will join Modernizing Medicine’s board of directors. “We see meaningful opportunities for the company’s continued growth and acceleration of existing products and initiatives, and we look forward to partnering with Dan, Michael and the entire management team,” said Andrew Park, principal of Warburg Pincus.

Founded in 1966 and headquartered in New York, Warburg Pincus, with an active protfolio of more than 140 companies, has more than $44 billion in private equity assets under management. Warburg Pincus has been an active investor in the health technology sector, with current investments including DocuTAP, Helix, Intelligent Medical Objects, Specialists On Call, and A Place For Mom.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

April 30, 2017

Q&A with MDLIVE CEO Scott Decker: Taking telehealth to the masses

Scott_decker

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

When Scott Decker told friends and colleagues in Portland, Oregon, he was going to be taking the helm of MDLIVE in South Florida, they were surprised.

“The outside perception is that there is no technology market down here and that is clearly not the case,” Decker said. Today, MDLIVE, a fast-growing provider of telehealth services, has more than 300 employees and has been growing about 60 percent a year, he said.

The longtime health-tech executive was named CEO of the Sunrise-based MDLIVE in November, succeeding Randy Parker, MDLIVE’s visionary founder and now chief business development officer.

Decker joined MDLIVE with nearly 30 years of experience as both an innovator and health information technology leader. Most recently, he served as CEO at HealthSparq, where he built the industry’s first cloud-based shopping/transparency platform for healthcare consumers. In four years, HealthSparq grew from startup to servicing 70 health plans and 70 million Americans. Prior to HealthSparq, he held CEO and president roles at NextGen Healthcare and HealthVision.

MDLIVE, founded in 2009, was one of the early entrants in telehealth, where the doctor is a click away. The company’s virtual healthcare service covers more than 20 million people for the 2017 health plan year and is on track for 22 million by year end. MDLIVE has raised more than $73 million in venture capital financing, making the company one of the best-funded South Florida tech companies. Nationally, it competes with Teladoc, Doctor on Demand, American Well and others.

Already this year, MDLIVE has launched a new virtual health and wellness package to support the country’s 28 million small businesses that traditionally have a difficult time obtaining affordable health benefits. The offering, MDLIVE Prime, is designed as a cost-effective, stand-alone benefit for businesses that are unable to offer traditional health insurance benefits or as an add-on benefit to traditional health plans, the company said. The package includes virtual doctor visits, including behavioral health, with no co-pay, pharmacy benefits, and second opinion services. MDLIVE couldn’t provide a cost for this service as it will vary widely depending upon the service details selected, but said a virtual care offering typically costs roughly $2 to $15 per employee per month.

MDLIVE also announced this year that it is the first telehealth provider to offer virtual psychiatric services in all 50 states through a network of more than 1,300 mental health professionals, and Decker sees that as a fast-growing part of the business going forward. The market is huge, as about 20 percent of people in the U.S. have a diagnosable mental disorder and current wait times to see a behavioral health expert average 30 days.

MDLIVE also plans to begin offering virtual dermatology visits in a few months.

The Miami Herald interviewed Decker in early April about his transition, the company and the telehealth sector.

Q. You moved from Portland, Oregon, in November. How are you finding South Florida?

A. Portland winters are rainy and cold. Pretty easy transition!

Q. What new set of challenges does leading MDLIVE bring?

A. Most of my background is purely on the technology side, providing technology that helps healthcare organizations be more efficient and effective, and this is combining the two. It’s not only the technology of how do we make it easier for consumers to get to doctors, but in reality we are also running a very large physician practice on the back-end at the same time, where we have more than 1,800 licensed physicians and therapists in our network. It’s marrying those two things together in delivering healthcare in a way it hasn’t been delivered before.

Q. Do you think telehealth has lived up to its expectations so far?

A. I don’t know that it has lived up to its expectations, but expectations are low because I think most people still don’t even know the service exists. In a lot of respects I equate it to my early days using Uber. I was an early adopter and I can still remember sitting on a corner in Washington, D.C., and having to wait 20 minutes to get a car because there weren’t enough drivers yet. And we were thinking, ‘Is this really living up to expectations, is it really going to take off?’ That’s where we are in telehealth right now, we are just in the very beginnings of it.

I fully expect that three or four years from now when we are talking, [telehealth] will be as common place as Uber is for how people are getting healthcare delivered. The customer satisfaction level we get of consumers who do use it is off the charts compared to traditional physician visits.

Q. What trends do you see in the sector?

A. We are starting to see adoption pick up fairly dramatically. On an average day, MDLIVE now sees about 1,200 patients a day, whereas a year ago it was half that amount. The bigger trend is we are seeing consumers get comfortable with the basic things we have traditionally [addressed], like ‘I have a sore throat or a UTI.’ We now have launched behavior health services; we’ve launched psychiatry services; we will soon be launching dermatology services. What you are starting to see as we get consumers comfortable with the concept is that we can expand to more and more things that make more sense to do virtually rather than burdening the consumer to go to a physical facility.

Q. Virtual psychiatry — how big a part of your business is that and what is its potential?

A. It’s about 10 percent of our business now. I think its market is tremendously untapped. It could be as big as our core business over time, and it probably fits our model even better than a basic physician office visit. A virtual visit can take away the stigma that has been associated with behavior health issues.

Q. You recently launched a new mobile health platform. What does that bring you that you didn’t have before?

A. We’ve now made it a completely native application — so you get a complete iOS or Android based experience. We’ve incorporated a brand new video conferencing capability that is getting really good reviews from consumers.

Q. What do you see ahead as the biggest opportunities for MDLIVE?

A. We are on the way, to be honest. The opportunity for us is to take advantage at what I think will be a commonplace way to see physicians in the future and making sure that happens sooner rather than later.

Q. Do the new healthcare proposals out there help or hurt telehealth and MDLIVE specifically?

A. The shift toward value-based care as opposed to fee for service just helps us more and more because people are looking for more efficient, cost-effective ways of providing care to broader populations. We definitely fit that bill. There is nothing in the changes that are occurring that we see as a headwind for us, really only tailwind. Generally in the market, what is helping us more than anything right now is two or three years ago, almost no insurers covered telehealth visits. We are well down the path and probably only a year away from almost all health plans covering telehealth as a core benefit. That is probably the biggest barrier that will come down for us.

Q. Can you tell me more about your recent growth?

A. MDLIVE has been trending the last few years at a 60 percent growth rate and does not see anything slowing that down over the next few years. MDLIVE is up to about 300 employees in the company, and more than two-thirds are in South Florida.

Q. Are you fund-raising?

A. Yes. We’re in that high-growth stage, so part of that is to always be out making sure we have the capital in place to take care of that growth.

Q. What sets MDLIVE apart from competitors?

A. For us, it is a lot about customer service and also scale. There are a lot of startups in this space, but I think if you are really going to be delivering care 24/7 365 days a year in 50 states, it’s a pretty big game and you need a big infrastructure to do that. We are clearly one of the companies that has scaled up in this space, and as I was saying, we have really put an emphasis on the customer service side of things, and the feedback we get is that is resonating well, and that’s both in our internal people and also training our physicians in a new way of taking care of patients in the virtual world.

Q. What are some other areas MDLIVE is looking to get into?

A. We have a new offering for small employers, which gives them a packaged opportunity to get access to these services. A lot of times the benefit we provide doesn’t come in the regular health plan package so we give access to these kinds of services with an all-you-can-eat model even for a lot of the small employers. For a small monthly per-employee fee, the employees can get access to as much of our network as they need. That’s a new program we are putting together and it is getting good reception in the market.

Traditionally we work with Fortune 1000 companies, and more and more health plans are working telehealth into their benefits, but a lot of that doesn’t flow down to the small employers.

Q. And you are getting into dermatology?

A. We are launching that later this summer. That’s kind of an obvious one, right? You don’t necessarily need a live visit. You can share pictures of what you are concerned about with the physician network and they can get back to you.

Q. What are some of the qualities a leader should have?

A. Making sure it is really clear to everyone in the organization where you are trying to get to, especially in technology and a high growth market where the future isn’t clear. The second is building a great team; it’s about surrounding yourself with the right people. Already I’ve been pleased with the market in South Florida, the high diversity in the workforce of executive and team players we have been able to bring aboard.

Q. What was the best advice you’ve received and from whom?

A. ‘Always try to find opportunities that can provide five years of experience every year … rather than the opposite.’ That was from my first branch manager at IBM.

Q. What is one thing colleagues may not know about you?

A. I worked on a project for NASA in college analyzing atmospheric data collected by the Voyager spacecraft as it passed Mars.

Q. How are you finding talent in South Florida?

A. I’ve been pleasantly surprised. As soon as I started telling folks I was moving to South Florida and I was hearing, ‘oh my gosh, how are you going to run a tech company down there?’ it’s been anything but. There is probably a cap to it, but for a company this size there is definitely enough talent down there and a great university system to feed into it. We may have to do a little more training to get people onto the top technologies, but I have found there is a hunger for that. We have worked with a lot of incubator and training facilities down here to make sure they are helping us feed our future growth. On the executive side, there are some really talented healthcare and technology executives I have been able to tap into in the local markets. And recruiting up north in the winter does have benefits.

Q. Are you hiring now?

A. Always. We are looking for technical people to customer service to sales and marketing. We are always looking for talent.

Q. Do you have any observations on what could make South Florida a stronger area for healthcare technology?

A. It will feed on itself; it’s an emerging market. What it needs are some good winds and that will attract more talent. The biggest barrier right now is just perception. The outside perception is that there is no technology market down here, and that is clearly not the case. So I think a little bit of PR will help and a few of us need to be wildly successful. So we’ll work on both.

READ MORE: Prescription for economy – healthcare startup energy

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg.

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April 12, 2017

South Florida cancer-fighting companies led venture funding in Q1, MoneyTree report shows

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Two South Florida biotech companies targeting cancer and an education-technology startup led Florida venture capital deals in the first quarter, according to a MoneyTree report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and CB Insights released Wednesday.

Florida deals in the quarter were led by F1 Oncology in West Palm Beach, an early-stage biotech company that raised $37 million from F1 BioVentures, Sinobioway and SunTerra Capital. Miramar-based Altor Bioscience raised $30 million from Sanderling Ventures. Aventura-based Nearpod, which creates educational content for students, raised $21 million from AGP Miami, GSV Acceleration, Insight Venture Partners, Krillion Ventures and Reach Capital. Aerospace company Moon Express of Cape Canaveral, created to mine the moon, brought in $20 million.

Florida companies took in 24 venture capital deals worth $156.9 million in the first quarter and nearly half of the total – $74.3 million – was in healthcare, according to MoneyTree. That compares with 25 deals worth $855.3 million in the same quarter a year ago, when mixed-reality technology company Magic Leap’s $793.5 million dominated investments in that quarter.

Other South Florida companies that received investment in the first quarter included fintech company Nymbus ($16 million), e-commerce startup Iguama ($5 million), packaging forwarding compay Aeropost ($4 million) and Biscayne Pharmaceuticals ($3 million), which is developing epilepsy treatments.

Nationally, investors deployed $13.9 billion to U.S. VC-backed startup companies across 1,104 deals, up 15 percent in dollars and 2 percent in deals from Q4 2016, according to the MoneyTree survey. These figures represent a slight recovery from Q4 2016, where startup investment figures bottomed out as part of an ongoing retreat from the peaks of 2015. A boost in mega-round activity contributed to the jump in quarterly dollars, although the total of $13.9 billion remains the second-lowest quarterly total across the past two years. MoneyTree Report results can be found at www.pwcmoneytree.com.

“We are seeing the U.S. funding environment slip into its new normal – 2015 was irrationally exuberant and the 2016 pullback was a reaction to that,” said Anand Sanwal, co-founder and CEO of CB Insights. “However, 2016 was more of a soft landing than a wholesale popping of the venture bubble which pundits have been predicting since 2009. There continue to be new sources of capital and strong corporate interest, and that is evident in the Q1 numbers. A number of large acquisitions and some early IPO activity also portends good things for VC-backed companies.”

Last week, Pitchbook and the National Venture Capital Association put out a report using different methodology as to which size, stage and type of deals it includes but reported similar trends. That report found that $244.19 million flowed into 63 deals during the first quarter in Florida. Nationally, the PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor found, investors deployed $16.5 billion to 1,797 venture-backed startups, marking a slight uptick in capital invested over the fourth quarter of 2016, but the fewest companies to receive investment since the fourth quarter of 2011.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

January 27, 2017

Biscayne Neurotherapeutics raises $3 million for developing anti-epileptic drugs

Miami-based Biscayne Pharmaceuticals has raised financing for its new spin-out, Biscayne Neurotherapeutics, which was recently established to develop BIS-001, a novel anti-epileptic drug slated to enter a Phase 1b clinical trial later this year.

BIS-001 is a synthetic form of huperzine A, an extract with a long history of safe use in central nervous system indications in traditional Chinese medicine, the company said. BIS-001 demonstrated exceptional efficacy in animal models of severe epilepsy and appeared safe and well tolerated in a Phase 1a trial.

The $3 million Series B financing round was led by Quark Venture and Chinese investment firm GF Securities, along with Mesa Verde Venture Partners. Existing Biscayne Pharmaceuticals investors and new private investors also participated in the financing round. As part of the financing agreement, the Global Health Sciences Fund will appoint one director and one observer to the Biscayne Neurotherapeutics Board of Directors, and Mesa Verde Venture Partners will also name a director.

Biscayne Neurotherapeutics is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing drugs for serious central nervous system disorders such as refractory epilepsy. Biscayne’s technology is licensed from Harvard University, Yale University and the University of South Florida. 

 Epilepsy affects about 3 million people in the U.S. and over 50 million people worldwide. 

January 06, 2017

Tesser Health raises $470K in funding to lower prescription drug costs

Tesserhealth

Part of the Tesser Health team at eMerge Americas: From left: Riyaad Seecharan, Ali Khoshnevis, Gregory Johnson (former intern), Patrick Helmus and Humberto Lee.
 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Tesser Health, a pharmaceutical savings startup based in Miami, has raised $470,000 in seed funding from a Cofounders Capital syndicate.

The company explained its mission and technology this way: Tesser Health's cross-platform application has helped hundreds of thousands of Americans save money on prescription medications by using behavioral science to drive optimal health decisions. The company analyzes claims and can find inefficiencies in consumer purchasing habits typically accounting for over 24 percent in excessive spending. Employers can layer the Tesser platform to their existing Pharmacy Benefit Manager systems, and the company currently works with health systems including Advanced Plan for Health, Wellnext, SpendWell Health and Save On Medical. The startup  provides users insight on exactly how much drugs cost, and then in real-time displays up to eight different ways to save on their medications.

“This is about helping everyday folks manage the rising cost of prescription drugs,” said Dr. Ali Khoshnevis, co-founder and managing director of business development at Tesser Health, in a statement. “What sets our solution apart is the ability to show users how to save on their medications and to communicate these opportunities to their prescribing physicians. This makes Tesser Health the only end-to-end platform to reduce prescription drug spending.”  

The eye doctor said he co-founded the company after he discovered a patient not taking his prescribed medications because of the costs. With some research, Khoshnevis discovered that the price for the same drug ranged from $11 to $150, and a variety of evidence-based alternatives existed. 

Tesser Health, founded in 2014, currently has nine people on its team and plans to use the funding for expanding its sales team, said Riyaad Seecharan, co-founder and managing director in charge of operations. Tesser Health is based at CIC Miami. "Their work sits at the intersection of where the Miami ecosystem should be delivering more - the cross between healthcare, technology, and responsible community benefits - and we hold them up as an example for what can happen when life sciences dovetails with entrepreneurial and human-centered solution design," said Natalia Martinez-Kalinina, CIC Miami's general manager. 
 
“We evaluated a number of companies with claims engines used to find employee drug cost savings, but none were as comprehensive or as actionable as the Tesser solution,” said  David Gardner, general partner at Cofounders Capital, in a statement. “We feel confident that this technology paired with this healthcare-experienced management team will be the best value available today for self-insured employers wanting to reduce the cost of their employee benefits”.