December 03, 2017

From 'grandkids on demand' to apps: How Miami startups are helping seniors and their caregivers

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com

Who hasn’t worried about elderly family members and wished it was easier to keep up with them from afar?

Now there’s a slew of technology that offers better care for the seniors and peace of mind for the family caregivers. What’s more, some South Florida startups are at the forefront of this technology, fueled by advances in artificial intelligence, big data and voice technologies.

One Plantation company has a solution that tracks and analyzes a senior loved one’s activity and routines and will alert caregivers when something is out of the ordinary. Another Miami startup supplies “grandkids on demand” to help with transportation, chores and companionship. Still other local firms have rethought the daily phone call, supplied elder-friendly multilingual hospital discharge instructions, and matched up the elderly with others who have room in their homes. Yet another enhanced alerts for when your elder has “fallen and can’t get up.”

It’s a large and growing market; more than 50 million Americans are over the age of 65, and 10,000 more hit that mark every day. While that slice is now about 13 percent of America’s population, it will jump to 19 percent by 2030 — about 72 million people — according to a U.S. Census Bureau report. About $1.2 trillion is spent on healthcare for American seniors each year, according to government estimates.

Perhaps most importantly, this technology can keep seniors safe and independent, allowing them to live in their homes — their overwhelming preference, according to surveys. Some of the technology could also prevent life-changing injuries caused by falls. The big vision: empowering the elderly to live more safely on their own while easing the worries of their loved ones.

Through its mobile app, website or 800 number, Miami startup Papa provides assistance and socialization to seniors through young and enthusiastic team members called Papa Pals. It’s like grandkids on demand, said CEO Andrew Parker.

Olga DeMartino, 92, visits with Papa founder Andrew Parker and Papa employee, Valeria Sosa, 26, Nov. 14, 2017, in her Coral Springs home. Parker runs a startup called Papa. It provides “grandkids on demand” — basically college students hired to help elderly customers by taking them to hair appointments or to get groceries, or to do a little cleanup or cooking, or just to be a companion.

Parker came up with his startup idea from a personal need. Andrew Parker’s grandfather had been diagnosed with early onset of dementia that progressed into Alzheimer’s. As a family, the Parkers had a lot of difficulty managing his daily needs and supporting his primary family caregiver, Andrew’s grandmother.

Papa started as a simple concept, said Parker, who previously worked at telemedicine provider MDLIVE, which was founded by his father. “Our grandfather and grandmother need support; others must as well. There is a huge senior population that continues to grow on a daily basis. There are also a lot of amazing college students who want to become future nurses, doctors and other leaders. Let’s connect these inter-generational groups and I bet something amazing happens.”

So Parker gathered a small team and started Papa, to support his own grandfather, whom he called “Papa,” and other seniors. The service, which is insured, now has about 150 Papa Pals on board. Most are college students earning extra money.

Recently, Papa Pal Valeria Sosa, a 26-year-old Broward College student, took Olga DeMartino, 92, to her weekly hair appointment. After Sosa walked with her to the car and buckled her in, they chatted and joked about each other’s families.

Regina DeMartino, Olga’s daughter-in-law, said before they found Papa on social media, family members took turns taking time off work to take her to her appointments.

“She loves them – she finds them all really interesting and loves being with younger people,” Regina said of the Papa Pals. They walk her out of her appointment and always have an umbrella so her hair won’t get wet, she said. “If she needs help around the house, they do that too.”

On Valentine’s Day last year, a Papa Pal brought Olga a rose. “How sweet is that?” said Regina.

Like Papa, Room2Care also leverages the so-called sharing economy but in a different way. The Miami startup is creating a network of vetted private caregiver homes, which provide less expensive and more personalized care than assisted living, said Richard Ashenoff, who founded the company with Dr. Todd Florin.

Room2Care, a Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge winner in 2015, is licensed and doing business in five states – Florida, West Virginia, Texas, Arizona and California – and has over 5,000 users and growing daily, Ashenoff said.

While Room2Care and Papa use tech to connect seniors with humans for companionship, assistance and caregiving, technology steps in to help in all the other times, too.

Take CarePredict, an elder-care platform powered by artificial intelligence. CarePredict makes bracelets that help track an elderly resident’s every activity. Currently it is available only to large group senior-living facilities and home care agencies, but the company hopes to offer the device directly to consumers in the future.

In an office space above a Boston Market in Plantation, more than a dozen engineers and data scientists are quietly toiling away on computers in an office adorned with large portraits of senior citizens. In the next room, another worker is carefully assembling the devices.

Founder and CEO Satish Movva keeps a portrait of his own parents near his office as a reminder of his mission. His parents, who are now 90 and 80, live just 10 miles away. Still, despite frequent calls and visits, he couldn’t trust the answers he was getting from them about their health.

“No matter how many times I would call them during the week, when I showed up on Saturday I’d find new things I didn’t know about. It was frustrating,” said Movva. “I wanted a wearable device that would answer all the questions I have about them every day.”

Changes in activity and behavior patterns show up well before the underlying issues manifest into medical conditions, said Movva, who has been an innovator in healthcare technology for 23 years, including as founding CIO for Sheridan Healthcare. He wanted a system to observe his parents continuously but privately, so he could be alerted to changes early enough to intervene. After finding the existing technologies inadequate, he set out to develop CarePredict in 2013.

CarePredict’s application offers a summary page and more details when each category is clicked.

The idea is to monitor daily activities like eating, drinking, walking, bathing, cooking, sleeping, said Movva. “We couple that with contextual cues to surface insights like self-neglect, for example, due to depression.” The data can also help predict falls or suggest malnutrition, dehydration or infections before the senior or another person reports them.

Angel, an artificial intelligence- and voice-powered Virtual Nurse Assistant, can play a similar role. She reaches out via low tech but clinically intelligent phone conversations, said Wolf Shlagman, founder and CEO of Care Angel.

“You look at the aging market and 90 percent or so choose to age at home ... managing themselves the best they can,” he said. “Angel is meant to be an assistant that will help family caregivers by being able to simply call mom just as a nurse would, asking a series of questions.”

Angel asks a series of personalized questions such as “how did you sleep last night?,” “did you take your medication today?” and “what was your glucose reading today?” If it detects cause for concern, Care Angel alerts caregivers via app, text message or phone. “Our mission is to help millions of people take better care of their families for a fraction of the cost of anything else out there,” said Shlagman.

A basic version Care Angel is currently available for free for AARP members and through other partners such as health insurers. A feature-filled premium version will be available next year for about $9.95 a month.

In a recently finalized study with a Humana Medicare Advantage population, Care Angel received high marks from recipients and also had a substantial effect on clinical and financial outcomes. Results showed engagement of about 83 percent, a reduction of 63 percent in hospital readmissions and $496,000 in savings, said Shlagman, who previously founded and sold Consult-a-Doctor, a telemedicine company.

MobileHelp, founded in 2006 and headquartered in Boca Raton, took the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” personal emergency response system idea pioneered by Life Alert and turbo-charged it. Help can be summoned at the touch of a button worn around the neck or on the wrist; unlike the first-generation systems designed for use only in the home, MobileHelp‘s products can be used on the go since they don't require a landline phone connection. The device also detects falls so help can be summoned without a button being pressed. Its app also provides verbal medication notifications and a tracker that monitors activity levels for reports that go to caregivers.

SpeechMED is designed to demystify medical instructions. It was started by Susan Perry after her mother-in-law died of a medical mishap because she could not understand post-surgery instructions given by the hospital. The application operates in 16 languages, offering patients and their caregivers the instructions in the spoken word as well as in text in the language they understand. There’s an accompanying caregiver app, too. The SpeechMED system is being piloted at Baptist Health System.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

November 27, 2017

CarePredict tracks seniors’ health for caregivers in a natural way

CAREPREDICT (2)

Startup Spotlight: CarePredict of Plantation, founded by health-technology veteran Satish Movva, provides an AI-driven platform for elder care that uses deep learning to surface insights based on the activities of daily living of seniors.

Company: CarePredict

Headquarters: Plantation; also has an office in Silicon Valley.

Concept: Elder care powered by artificial intelligence.

Story: Health-technology veteran Satish Movva founded CarePredict to help him take care of his now 90- and 80-year-old parents. They live 10 miles away from where he lives in western Broward County, and because of their advancing age, he could not rely on one to keep an eye on the other.

He noticed that changes in activity and behavior patterns showed up well before the underlying issues manifested into medical conditions and sought a system to observe his parents continuously and let him know of these changes early enough to intervene.

Finding the existing technologies inadequate and outdated, Movva set about creating a first-in-the-industry system to observe the daily activity and behavior patterns of each parent individually and with privacy, and alert him to anomalies. Movva has worked in technology for 30 years, 23 of them in healthcare, including being the founding CIO for Sheridan Healthcare and creating its first mobile EMR device on the Palm Pilot. He also created the first web-based home-care platform at Interim Healthcare.

CarepredictBM STARTUP SPOTLIGHT CARE P_2CarePredict is an AI-driven platform for elder care that uses deep learning to provide insights based on the daily activities of seniors. It starts with a wearable — a bracelet — that collects data that is sent to an app.

“We collect our data through lightweight sensors for contextual cues and a wearable,” Movva said. “We detect activities a senior is performing such as eating, drinking, bathing, cooking, sleeping, functional activity, and we couple that with contextual cues to surface insights like self-neglect, for example, due to depression, unusual toileting patterns, for example, due to UTIs, malnutrition and dehydration, all without any self-reporting by the senior or need for any other human observer.”

That includes fall prediction, too: “This whole industry has been fixated on fall detection ... but the issue is when someone falls it is too late. Falls are the single biggest inflexion point in aging, ... if you can prevent those falls you are better off. We are probably the pioneers in figuring out fall prediction rather than fall detection.”

CarePredict has been commercially available to senior group living facilities and home care agencies since March. Four senior living chains are already using the platform. CarePredict, now a team of 17 engineers and data scientists, has hired a sales team to ramp up business development in 2018. The company plans to address the direct-to-consumer market in the future.

“This company has the DNA to be enormously successful — the right team, the right market and the right solution. It’s not going to happen overnight, but they have all the right things going for them,” said Peter Livingston, a CarePredict investor and board member.

Launched: Company formed in May 2013

Website: www.carepredict.com

Management team: Satish Movva, founder and CEO; Greg Zobel, chief growth officer.

No. of employees: 17

Financing: $5.2 million in prior rounds that included South Florida-based Las Olas Venture Capital.

Recent milestones reached: Started commercializing product in 2017; four commercial assisted living and memory care enterprises signed up in the U.S. and Canada in 2017; three U.S. patents granted in 2017; one of two U.S. companies selected by Google for their “Google for Entrepreneurs” mentorship in deep learning and AI in Waterloo/Toronto campus; opened office in Palo Alto, CA in 2017.

Biggest startup challenge: Building the team and funding the mission.

Next step: Scaling the company. CarePredict is raising funds to expand company operations for installations and training and bringing on experienced industry sales leaders to increase outbound sales.

“CarePredict is solving a big problem, in a rapidly growing market, in a novel way,” said Dean Hatton, a founding partner with Las Olas Venture Capital and a CarePredict investor/board member. “The company has built a robust pipeline of interested prospects. Interestingly, this has been accomplished without sales or marketing efforts, principally through word-of-mouth in the assisted living facility ecosystem. Recently, Satish has added sales resources and will soon launch an outbound sales effort. The demand will be immense. Meeting that demand will be the greatest challenge ahead.”

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

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November 21, 2017

Startupbootcamp Digital Health Miami announces 13 startups for second cohort

 

SD Press Release Image

Startupbootcamp Digital Health Miami, an innovation program and fund, announces the 13 companies that will be joining their second cohort.

The cohort was selected after an intensive two-day evaluation and selection process on November 17-18. The 13 selected startups were chosen from over 300 applicants that applied during the recruitment months.

Teams pitched their businesses to over 100 healthcare executives, investors and mentors industry experts from Startupbootcamp’s corporate partners such as Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and Accenture as well as representatives from Marsh, Towers Watson, Philips, UnitedHealthCare, Zaffre Investments, Mayo Clinic, CVS Health, Optum, Carolinas Healthcare, Catholic Health Services, Thorek, Health Choice Network, University of Miami and Baptist Health. These representatives also mentored the participating companies and explored collaboration opportunities.


The 13 selected startups are:


B.well: is a consumer centered health management platform designed to deliver what consumers want and monetize to what payors, employers and providers need.
 
BrainFX: BrainFX 360 assessment is a web and tablet based assessment of Neurofunction that measures complex cognitive skills using real world context.
 
Cybexys: proprietary platform CARAT uses a natural language processing to detect details that humans might miss when they are processing unstructured information from a clinician's narrative and trying to properly code the severity level of each patient disease state.

Empower Capital: is a financial engineered HSA plus program that ensures liquidity to all employees with high deductible plans.

Epharmix: creates and validates disease-specific "digital interventions" to help care teams manage and support medically underserved patient populations across twenty of the most expensive and difficult medical indications.

FRND: is a platform used to connect MDs, payors, and providers to a network of mobile practitioners for housecalls.

HealthTensor: clinically-validated algorithms automatically diagnose and create documentation from patient data, saving physicians time, improving patient care, and improving note accuracy for coding and billing.

NarrativeDx: collects patient feedback and satisfaction data from internal sources, discharge surveys, HCAHPS surveys, social media channels, and physician review websites.

NeuraMetrix: has developed a technology, based on typing cadence, to detect and monitor the progression of brain diseases, disorders and injuries by measuring human cognitive and motor function at the sub-clinical level based on significant capabilities in quantitative methods and proprietary software.

Quick’rCare: is the only platform focused on assisting patients find the shortest  wait time at  an ER or Urgent care, and hold their place in line.

SaveMyScope: has created a mobile phone adapter and application on the App Store that removes the need for physicians to use bulky, expensive video towers.

Twiage: allows EMTs and paramedics to collect and send high-quality prehospital data instantly via a smartphone.

Wellth: is focused on improving adherence and decreasing readmissions by helping patients change their behaviors so they get better faster.

“We are proud to see this set of companies build on our first cohort with greater diversity of founders, product category, stage, geography and revenue. Miami is poised to become recognized as a global hub for healthcare innovation," said founder and General Partner Christian Seale.

"Startupbootcamp continues to help fill important gaps in our innovation ecosystem by attracting new talent to Miami and providing a platform for startups to scale and grow. This second cohort of entrepreneurs will bring fresh ideas and energy to our city, adding to the momentum of our expanding startup community," said Chris Caines, interim program director for Miami at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a Startupbootcamp supporter, which helped bring the accelerator program to the United States in 2015.

The program kicks off on January 15, 2018 when the startups will relocate to Miami. The program offers participating companies partnerships with leading hospital systems, insurers and pharma to accelerate and scale their businesses, extensive mentoring from over 150+ healthcare entrepreneurs, investors, and executives in addition to six months of free office space and seed funding.

- Submitted by Startupbootcamp Digital Health 

 

October 15, 2017

Startup Spotlight: LifeWallet helps consumers take control of their health

 

Lifewalletteam
From left: Norberto Menendez, CEO and founder of Life Wallet; Anthony Alviz, software engineer, Scott Johns, design lead, Yaismel Miranda, software engineer; and Kyle Carriedo, engineer manager, at the company offices at 14591 SW 120th St. in Miami-Dade. 
Roberto Koltun rkoltun@miamiherald.com

 

Company name: LifeWallet

Headquarters: Miami-Dade County (Kendall)

Concept: LifeWallet aims to change the healthcare delivery model, enabling consumers to own their health.

Story: Using the LifeWallet HealthBook app, a 59-year-old locksmith recently lost 17 pounds in three months and his blood glucose reading dropped enough that he was no longer considered pre-"diabetic. “You have to do it for yourself,” he said, adding that the app helped him stay on track because “someone is always looking at your readings and you’re accountable.”

That’s just one example of LifeWallet at work.

LifeWallet, a South Florida-based startup, creates digital health assistants in the form of apps and care programs. “We empower consumers and communities to lead healthier lifestyles and take control of their health,” said Norberto Menendez, LifeWallet’s founder and CEO.

Menendez, 55, was born in Cuba, graduated from South Miami High School and the University of Miami, and then went to Silicon Valley to work for Apple. He returned to Miami in the mid-1990s to take care of his ailing father.

As he continued to work remotely for Apple while caring for his father, frustrations with insurance, the healthcare system, access to medical records, lack of communication between healthcare providers and the high costs of healthcare led him to take the entrepreneurial plunge with LifeWallet.

Menendez believed that technology focused on empowering consumers with control of their health could save lives as well as solve many of the systemic problems of the industry. He recruited several members of his top management team from Apple.

LifeWallet offers a consumer product, its HealthBook app, as well as products for healthcare providers and health insurance plans. Customers have included Baptist, where LifeWallet has done nearly 20,000 health assessments with West Kendall Baptist Hospital, GE, the City of Doral, YMCA, and Indiana Health University. It will be working with Athlete’s Health and the NFL Players Association, where it will be doing assessments for concussions and the health of athletes, Menendez said.

One of LifeWallet’s programs is Sugar Smart for Life, in which the locksmith participated. It is a collaborative effort between the GE HealthyCities Leadership Academy, LifeWallet and West Kendall Baptist Hospital, a one-year pilot program designed to engage consumers diagnosed as pre-diabetic create healthier lifestyles and prevent the onset of Type II diabetes. It recently received a grant from AstraZeneca to continue the program.

Re-imagining the Healthy Hub at West Kendall Baptist Hospital is another program. Consumers go through a simple health screening process at this free one-stop screening and referral-to-care kiosk. Within minutes, consumers receive a Healthsnap, or snapshot of their health, sent to their cellphones.

In August, Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez challenged his residents to take the StepUp Your Health Doral Challenge. He’s trying to get his citizens to walk a billion steps in the next year. LifeWallet created the app that keeps track of residents’ steps, adds them to the community total and provides individual rankings.

What’s next? LifeWallet is working on strategic initiatives with Florida International University, connecting with Watson Health of IBM and doing work using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. It aims to create a digital health store where consumers can purchase health assessments they can take from the comfort of their own homes and care plans that can be monitored by health and wellness coaches, Menendez said.

“We’re talking to major healthcare systems throughout the country ... about how the LifeWallet platform can save them, and consumers, billions of dollars a year, particularly in the fight against chronic diseases that account for 86 percent of the costs of healthcare,” Menendez said.

Website: www.lifewallet.com

Launched: 2014

Number of employees: 15

Management team: Norberto Menendez, CEO; Kyle Carriedo, leads engineering team; Ben Sharpe, development; Scott Johns, designer; Edwin Rivera, brand evangelist.

Financing: $6.5 million in private financing from family and friends. Currently seeking Series A financing of $10 million.

Recent milestones: Grant from AstraZeneca to continue its Sugar Smart for Life program with West Kendall Baptist Hospital. Pilot with KeepLivin, Jessie Trice Community Health Center and Health Choice Networks for diabetes prevention and management to help manage patients affected with diabetes. Collaboration with Athlete’s Health to assess and track the course of concussions and overall health in former NFL players and young athletes and to promote health screenings in the community with local organizations, hospitals, schools and companies in 32 cities throughout the U.S. Partnership with AgaMatrix to facilitate preventative care and remote monitoring in populations at risk of developing diabetes.

Biggest startup challenge: Funding in South Florida. “We’re talking to various funding sources in the Northeast and in Silicon Valley, but South Florida still remains a challenge,” Menendez said.

Next step: Continuing to enhance the LifeWallet platform and getting the word out to healthcare providers and insurers.

Mentor’s view: “I always look first at the opportunity and then the team. LifeWallet is at the forefront of the change from traditional healthcare to patient-centered wellness management, one of the biggest possible opportunities. A team of ex-Apple programmers was a very attractive plus,” said Bob Hacker, director of StartUP FIU, startup advisor and professor. “The challenge is picking the early commercial partner — whether it be an insurer, hospital group, large local employer or government organization — to leverage the SAAS platform to scale LifeWallet. I like the insurers as the first customer segment.”

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

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September 30, 2017

Miami health-tech startup DermaSensor is developing a hand-held device to evaluate skin cancer risk

Dermasensor 01 EKM

Cody Simmons is CEO of DermaSensor, a Miami-based health-tech startup that is developing a medical device that aims to detect the risk of skin cancer. A user would scan a mole or lesion with the device and the technology inside the device would determine whether the lesion is potentially cancerous, based on its data and algorithm. A prototype of the handheld device that Simmons is holding is a little larger than a pen, but the device started out at as a 30-pound desktop machine that sits next to him. The technology has been miniaturized to be contained in a hand-held device. Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Chances are you have looked at a mole or irregularity on your skin and thought that maybe you should see a doctor about it. And, chances are, you didn’t.

Yet, there are more new cases of skin cancer every year than the combined incidences of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon, according to the American Cancer Society. And one person in the U.S. dies every 52 minutes of melanoma, the most-deadly form of skin cancer, which can afflict any age group, gender or race.

DermaSensor, a Miami-based health-technology startup, has been quietly developing a hand-held device that uses artificial intelligence to help users evaluate skin lesions for cancer. The device, undergoing clinical trials, would allow physicians and eventually consumers to perform simple skin checks in physician offices and patient homes at the first sign of a potential problem.

DermaSensor recently completed a $2 million financing deal, comprised primarily of South Florida and New York angel investors with medical device and finance expertise. This financing round brings the company’s total funds that have been raised to $4.45 million. The company is now raising a Series A financing round to further grow its team and fund continued product development, clinical development and commercial efforts.

“We are excited about this novel spectroscopy technology and its potential to transform skin cancer care and save lives around the world,” said Cody Simmons, CEO of DermaSensor.

The company’s recent clinical developments spring from the rapidly growing medical device and health-tech industry in South Florida. The industry benefits from the region’s large hospital district and access to universities and research institutes, the area’s history with successful medical device and pharmaceutical companies, and access to Latin American markets. A number of companies have sprung from Mako Surgical’s sale, for instance. Others are incubating at wet labs and offices at Cambridge Innovation Center, in partnership with the University of Miami. Some have benefited from the services of Startupbootcamp Miami, an accelerator for health-tech startup that focuses on eradicating healthcare disparities in the United States.

[READ MORE: A health system bets big on Miami’s future in health-tech]

DermaSensor was founded in 2009 by healthcare investor and serial entrepreneur Dr. Maurice Ferré, who was previously the CEO of MAKO Surgical, which sold to Stryker for $1.65 billion. Ferré, son of the former Miami mayor, is also chairman and CEO of Insightec, a brain health company founded in Israel; co-founder of Miami-based Fastrack Institute; and on the board of Endeavor Miami, an organization that supports high-impact entrepreneurship.

“What we’ve learned is that this is a public health issue,” Ferré said about DermaSensor’s journey. “The issue is catching these things early, and what we find is not enough people go see dermatologists.”

DermaSensor’s patented technology was pioneered at Boston University and University College London, and the device has been undergoing development since 2011 through clinical studies and collaborations with dermatologists in Florida.

The device itself is evolving, from a 30-pound desktop system to a hand-held device that is now just a little larger than a pen.

The device itself includes the technology, which records the skin lesion and runs a machine-learning algorithm that was developed using a trove of spectroscopy data on lesions. Within seconds, the technology evaluates the risk and recommends further evaluation from a dermatologist, if necessary. Clinical validation of the prototype is underway in Florida clinics, Simmons said.

Simmons came aboard in 2016 to lead the company through its clinical trials and into commercialization. Before joining DermaSensor, Simmons led commercial efforts for a Silicon Valley mobile health device startup and held business development and commercial strategy roles at biotech company Genentech.

Christian Seale, founder of Startupbootcamp Miami, originally introduced Simmons to Ferré, a mentor and advisor for Startupbootcamp, with the idea that they might work together to build DermaSensor. Seale is a member of DermaSensor’s advisory board, which also includes Dr. Stewart Davis and other Miami entrepreneurs in the healthcare and tech industries. “The Miami ecosystem is working,” Ferré said.

DermaSensor is undergoing clinical trials in the United States, working toward FDA clearance, a process that can take years. DermaSensor’s product will likely hit the market first in Europe, where the regulatory process is further along, Simmons said.

The ultimate goal is to be able to sell the device at an affordable price, for a few hundred dollars, Simmons said.

Once cleared by regulators, the go-to-market strategy is to sell the device first to clinicians, and eventually consumers. To save lives, he said, “we want to make it very easy to use.”

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

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