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Startup Spotlight: Specialty Telehealth Services

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Concept: Specialty Telehealth Services (STS) integrates complex telehealth systems to produce positive health impacts. STS owns and operates a 24-hour Response Center providing teletrauma services and is also implementing a Latin American Telestroke Network.

Story: The idea for STS stemmed from the introduction of CNN to Latin America and Brazil in 1988. For 15 years, Orlando and Rosalina Vallone ran a satellite and cable television operation that allowed the retransmission of U.S. networks and cable channels to countries in this region.

That experience led to the couple’s decision to invest in telehealth solutions. The technology advancements that made radiology image transmissions and educational applications for satellite communications possible, they realized, could also help save lives. "Our telemedicine platform allows us to connect doctors from across the globe, even in the most remote areas, and use telehealth solutions to target widespread health problems like stroke in Latin America," said Orlando Vallone.

The couple relocated from Atlanta to Miami and set up business in Miami’s Health District, the second largest in the U.S. "Having our headquarters in a hurricane-resistant, high-technology building that would provide the bandwidth interconnectivity and within close proximity to the Latin American markets we wanted to target," was ideal, Vallone said.

Launched: May 2011.

Headquarters: Miami Innovation Center in the Life Science & Technology Park.

Management team: Orlando Vallone, president, and Rosalina Vallone, vice president of operations (pictured above).

No. of employees: STS has grown from four employees to a team of 14 today; the group includes 12 dedicated communications specialists.

Financing: Self-funding and government contracts.

Recent milestones: Initial implementation of the telestroke network. Expanded the telemedicine services to connect U.S. doctors with patients in Mexico and Latin America for second-opinion medical consultations via a partnership with Praximo. Expanded the adoption of the Spanish and Portuguese versions of the image-sharing platform to help telemedicine users and physicians exchange radiology images securely.

Biggest startup challenge: Educating and getting members of the healthcare system and governmental agencies in various countries to understand the effectiveness and benefits of investing in telehealth.

Next step: To further expand international business opportunities in countries such as Peru, Brazil and Mexico and get Latin American healthcare sector and government leaders to understand the telehealth concept. “We plan to pursue this by meeting with officials and attending conferences in these countries to showcase our systems and educate stakeholders on our services and how we can help make their healthcare systems more efficient and cost-effective,” said Vallone.

Strategy for next step: Expand mission to improve trauma and stroke treatment, its education and implementation based on telehealth applications. By creating more partnerships with specialists and medical institutions throughout Latin America, the STS will be able to expand its telestroke network and improve the response time and accurate diagnosis of patients.

Nancy Dahlberg

To read past Startup Spotlights, click on the Startup Spotlight category on this blog.

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 Photos by CW Griffin of the Miami Herald staff.

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