Meet MATTER’s Newest Members – August

Posted August 16, 2017
By Shulie Weinberg
Marketing Intern – MATTER

MATTER’s newest member companies are improving our ability to diagnose ear infections, making medical histories and data shareable, improving communication between physicians and payers, and bringing the patient voice into product development. In their spare time, the founders of these ventures play music in the street, bike across the country, and use their own kids as test subjects. Meet our newest members.

JP Bader

President, Next Health Choice

What is Next Health Choice’s mission?
Global domination (and to automate pre-authorizations). In a nutshell, we mitigate financial risk by letting physician’s groups know whether or not the services they provide will be covered by a patient’s insurance policy – before they provide the service. In cases where pre-authorization is required, our system uses the collected information to generate the pre-authorization as well.

How will your business create change in healthcare?
If we achieve everything we hope and dream, service providers will be able to seamlessly send patients to other providers in their facilities; patients will not have to worry about their coverage; and insurance companies will have dynamic rules engines that are transparent for providers, patients, and third parties to review and understand.

Why did you choose to become a MATTER member?
I chose to become a member because MATTER offers a robust community, great mentoring, and a network inside of an industry that is nigh on impossible to penetrate single-handedly. Next Health Choice built a product that is unique and does not have a lot of competition, but because nobody does this, nobody knows about it. And because nobody knows about it, nobody has it or wants it. They need validation, and being part of MATTER helps validate our solutions. That, and my cousin begged me to join!

What is one fact people are surprised to learn about you?
I busk with a piano (not a keyboard, but with a real, analog, acoustic piano).

Connect with JP.

Jen Horonjef

Founder & CEO, Savvy Cooperative

What is Savvy Cooperative’s mission?
Savvy’s mission is to improve the lives of patients and loved ones by empowering them to collaborate with healthcare industry professionals in order to develop better patient-centric solutions — faster. In other words, we help companies connect with and better understand their users so they can validate new ideas.

How will your business create change in healthcare?
We want to make it so easy for healthcare innovators to work with patients that it becomes an industry standard to make sure patients are involved in helping to create the solutions that affect them. We care deeply that patients are equitably valued, and want to make sure their contributions and expertise are rewarded just like any other industry expert.

Why did you choose to become a MATTER member?
We came to MATTER to be part of a community of healthcare startups. We also joined MATTER to learn more about the unique challenges technologists and early stage companies face when connecting with patients for idea discovery, user testing, and market research. We want to make sure these innovators have access to their end-users so they can build better solutions from the start.

What is one fact people are surprised to learn about you?
I once rode a tandem bicycle from NYC to Florida, unassisted by support vehicles, to raise awareness for Juvenile Arthritis – a condition that I have.

Connect with Jen.

William Nelson

CEO, Healthy Amplified

What is your company’s mission?
We make medical history shareable and accessible for physicians, providers, caregivers, and families of patients. We seek to improve treatment outcomes and close the information gap by by giving everyone involved in a patient’s care access to the same information at the same time.

If Health Amplified achieves everything you hope, what will this success look like for patients and providers?
Our solution will give providers the tools they need to offer better treatment plans and more effectively communicate with patients and stakeholders, and will save families time by aggregating essential medical information in real time from multiple sources.

Why did you choose to become a MATTER member?
MATTER has an established history of working closely with healthcare startups and sustains an ecosystem of success for those wanting to get a jump start on their journey. This opportunity was too good to pass up!

What is one fact people are surprised to learn about you?
When I was 11, I was hit by a truck while riding my bike. This accident resulted in a broken hip and femur and, subsequently, surgery and a full body cast. I had to undergo multiple months of full rehabilitation and learn how to walk again, and it took years to get back to full form. I eventually returned to playing sports and football in high school and later on as a walk-on player in college.

Connect with William.

Ryan Shelton

CEO, PhotoniCare

What is PhotoniCare’s mission?
PhotoniCare is a medical device company devoted to fundamentally changing the standard of care for children with chronic ear infections. Our handheld device can see through the eardrum to directly visualize the contents of the middle ear for a quick and accurate diagnosis and better decision-making around antibiotic prescription and surgical intervention.

If PhotoniCare achieves everything you hope and dream, what will this success look like for patients and physicians?
The current gold standard for ear infection diagnosis is a magnifying glass and it boasts a 50 percent misdiagnosis rate. The current standard essentially randomizes treatment protocols, which leads to a mess when it comes to getting children the care they need, when they need it. Ear infections are the leading cause of hearing loss and surgeries in children. We want to give physicians and patients a quick and accurate diagnosis so that these children can focus on learning about the world around them with fully functional hearing, rather than struggling to learn with the equivalent of earplugs in their ears due to a misdiagnosis.

Why did you choose to become a MATTER member?
Since its inception, we’ve been impressed with the quality of the content and partnerships MATTER facilitates. Additionally, MATTER boasts a lot of really fantastic companies. We saw the value and wanted to be a part of that ecosystem.

What is one fact people are surprised to learn about you?
I’m passionate about ear infections because I live them day-in and day-out. I have three kids under the age of 5 and all of them have had chronic ear problems. Both a convenient and unfortunate coincidence. I think they are getting tired of dad asking to image their ears … again.

Connect with Ryan.

Komathi Stem

Founder & CEO, monARC Bionetworks

What is your mission?
We make it simple for patients to share their medical data with researchers to influence and accelerate the search for new treatments.

How will monARC Bionetworks create change in healthcare?
There will be a collaborative healthcare system where data is shared easily to accelerate discovery and therapies will be developed exponentially faster.

Why did you choose to become a MATTER member?
To connect with other entrepreneurs and learn from seasoned operators and VCs.

What is one fact people are surprised to learn about you?
I live in a house of giants. My husband and two boys stand 6’4” or taller.

Connect with Komathi.

Learn more about MATTER membership.

Meet MATTER’s Newest Members – June 2017

Posted June 22, 2017
By Paige Edmiston
Marketing Associate – MATTER

Our newest MATTER member companies envision a future where joint problems are preventable and diabetes is curable, and where patients have the education and support they need to choose what their end of life experience looks like. They’re also skilled in comedy improv, headstands, and rooting for the Chicago Cubs. Meet MATTER’s new members:

Jordan Dalton

President and CEO, Cell-Safe Life Sciences

What is Cell-Safe Life Sciences’ mission?
Our mission is to provide a cost-effective solution for the diabetic patient, and ultimately, to cure diabetes.

How will your company create change in healthcare?
Our company can transform healthcare by introducing a device capable of producing enough insulin to satisfy the needs of the patient, thereby eliminating the need for synthetic insulin and the extreme costs associated with it.

Why did you decide to become a MATTER member?
We joined MATTER to be part of the innovative healthcare community. The opportunities and resources available are very helpful for a startup.

What is one fact people are surprised to learn about you?
I’ve been a Chicago Cubs season ticket holder for 15 years, the championship last year is something I thought I would never see in my lifetime.

Connect with Jordan.

Maggie Norris

Founder, after care

What is after care’s mission?
Our mission is to provide families with scenario-based education that fosters informed decision making and leads to better health outcomes. We believe everyone deserves to live their best life and die a ‘good death’; feeling safe, secure, and in control of their care.

If your company achieves everything you hope, what would this look like for those impacted by your business?
Patients and their families will feel informed about care options and be armed with advance directives that ensure their wishes are respected and honored at every stage of care. Providers will be better equipped with personalized directives that help ensure they are providing the most appropriate care in accordance with patients’ wishes, and better equipped to provide personalized education, end of life counseling, and advance care planning.

The cost of providing quality, patient-centered care at end-of-life will be reduced for both providers and healthcare insurers, and the quality of life will dramatically improve for millions of patients at end-of-life.

Why did you choose to become a MATTER member?
MATTER’s focus on entrepreneurial education and mentorship is exactly what I need to take my idea and MVP to the next level. And I heard the happy hours are top-notch.

What is one fact people are surprised to learn about you?
I moved to Chicago to study improv comedy. When I realized I wasn’t going to be the next Tina Fey, I found myself at Northwestern.

Connect with Maggie.

Teddy Hodges

CEO, BraceUnder

What is BraceUnder’s mission?
Our mission is to help people heal better and to prevent joint problems from happening in the first place.

How will your product create change in healthcare?
BraceUnder’s technologies will enhance the science of joint injuries and will provide customized solutions for physical adversity that go beyond joint and muscle challenges.

Why did you choose to become a MATTER member?
We chose to join MATTER because we believe it is a phenomenal community of entrepreneurs who are transforming healthcare.

What is one fact people are surprised to learn about you?
I practice yoga and get upside down everyday. (That usually means standing on my head.)

Connect with Teddy.

How OSF HealthCare and Regroup Therapy Virtualized Mental Health Treatment

Posted June 22, 2017
By Devon Leichtman
Associate Marketing Manager – MATTER

When OSF HealthCare developed their innovation model, they turned to a world outside of healthcare for inspiration. Borrowing from such non-healthcare companies as Google, Apple, and Caterpillar, OSF CEO Kevin Schoeplein  along with President Sister Diane Marie, Chief Strategy Officer Michelle Conger, and Senior Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer Dr. Jeffry Tillery  deployed an innovation team with the freedom to operate separately from the rest of the organization.

OSF’s innovation team focused on building a culture that would allow them to operate more like fast-moving tech companies. According to Matthew Warrens, vice president of innovation partnerships, “tech is all about ‘fail and fail quickly’” – a mindset that has, for good reason, never been popular in healthcare. The idea of “embracing failure” does not come naturally in an industry where failure can mean deteriorating health outcomes and lost lives.

But the OSF innovation leadership team, which includes Warrens and Innovation Partnerships Director Rob Jennetten, understood that the tech industry’s strategy for developing innovative ideas and disrupting existing markets – casting a wide net and expecting many solutions to fail – could work in healthcare if they set it up correctly. And in addition to building their internal capabilities, OSF looked externally for partners to help them with their mission. OSF was a founding partner of MATTER, where they have connected with dozens of leading-edge healthcare startups.

One of the companies they met through their relationship with MATTER is Regroup Therapy, a telemedicine solution that helps healthcare facilities augment their behavioral health capabilities. For most patients, seeing a behavioral health specialist – even if only for a quick consultation – is a painful process, requiring a referral from a primary care physician, a separate appointment, and other out-of-pocket expenses. David Cohn founded Regroup Therapy in 2012 to use telemedicine to make behavioral healthcare more accessible to patients.

OSF initially moved forward by piloting Regroup Therapy’s “doc-to-doc” model of telemedicine. It works like this: if a clinician needs a behavioral health consultation for a patient (or if a patient requests one), the doctor can use Regroup Therapy’s software to immediately consult a behavioral health specialist remotely. This system avoids a long and slow referral process, and keeps the patient from having to schedule a separate appointment, often in another location, with a behavioral health specialist.

The initial rollout of Regroup Therapy’s product has been promising. Recently OSF Ventures, the corporate investment arm of OSF HealthCare, led a $6.1M Series A investment to help them expand their product nationwide.

Best practices

The OSF collaboration with Regroup Therapy is validation that their innovation model is working. They have the mandate from leadership to explore novel technologies that can help them achieve their vision to transform healthcare to improve the lives for those they serve. Their innovation team has the remit to engage externally with companies such as Regroup Therapy, and the resources to bring solutions inside the system. And their investment arm, OSF Ventures, led by Vice President Stan Lynall, accelerates the growth of the most promising healthtech startups.

OSF HealthCare is currently working with a number of other MATTER member startups, and we expect to make more announcements in the coming months as these partnerships continue to develop.

Meet MATTER’s Newest Members

Posted May 1, 2017
By Paige Edmiston
Marketing Associate – MATTER

MATTER’s newest member companies are developing novel therapeutics for lung diseases, creating better ways for seniors to find housing, and using digital health technologies and machine learning to meet the needs of patients and researchers. They’ve joined our community of healthcare innovators to improve life and lives. They also know a thing or two about ultimate frisbee, funk rock, and world history. Meet MATTER’s newest members:

Amedee Brennan O’Gorman

Founder, bimbley

What is bimbley’s mission?
To provide free and innovative solutions to help seniors find housing.

My academic background is in electrical engineering and mathematics, but my business background is in senior living. While running my previous company – a senior living referral business – I discovered an even greater gap in the senior living market that was leaving an incredible need for the consumer unfulfilled. So I jumped at the opportunity to address it when I had the chance.

Why did you join MATTER?
The resources provided by MATTER are invaluable to a startup. There is an energized and supportive community, and access to knowledge, education, and meaningful connections.

What are people surprised to learn about you?
I got an early start with entrepreneurship. My first incorporated company was in high school and, by age 19, I purchased my first rental property. The rest is history, as they say.

Connect with Amedee.

Misha Herscu

CEO, McCoy Medical Technologies

What is McCoy Medical Technologies’ mission?
McCoy’s mission is to facilitate the distribution and hospital implementation of trained machine learning algorithms. The future of radiology practice leverages deep and diverse usage of algorithms from many sources. McCoy bridges the gap from research to practice,focusing on algorithm sourcing, testing, and integrations.

Why did you join MATTER?
We came to MATTER to meet more members of the community – particularly people who are working on machine learning problems, as well as providers and radiology IT companies who might become integration or channel partners.

What is one fact people are surprised to learn about you?
I play (semi-)professional ultimate frisbee.

Connect with Misha.

Amos Adler

President, MEMOTEXT

What is MEMOTEXT’s mission?
Our mission is to make health data useful. We are building digital health interventions – as simple as reminders and as complex as AI chatbots – to empower patients to lead healthier lives and improve the bottom line for healthcare stakeholders. 

Why did you join MATTER?
We wanted to become part of the Chicago digital health startup scene. It’s a great opportunity to gain access and work with some great people.

What are people surprised to learn about you?
I’m a rock and funk drummer, and have been in dozens of bands with names like Green Eggs and Hamlet, Uncle Meat, Country Weirdo, and, most recently, Daddy Kravitz.

Connect with Amos.

Anantha Harijith, MD

CEO, Sphingo Therapeutics

What is Sphingo Therapeutics’ mission?
Our mission is to promote and research therapeutic targets and agents related to lung diseases.

Why did you join MATTER?
We joined MATTER as part of CIM, and also to establish connections.

What are people surprised to learn about you?
My knowledge of world history!

Connect with Anantha.

How a One-year Old Startup Tackled an Industry Giant’s Problem

Posted March 22, 2017
By Devon Leichtman
Associate Marketing Manager – MATTER

This is Mike Abbadessa, senior director of medical affairs at Takeda Pharmaceuticals.


And this is Jason Smith, technology executive and computer scientist turned healthcare entrepreneur. He and Dr. Lev Becker founded the startup, rMark Bio, in 2015.


The Problem

In early 2015, Mike’s team at Takeda was looking to identify Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) by identifying patterns in practice. KOLs are influencers in the biochemical and pharmaceutical industries. Often KOLs are biochemical researchers who study chemical and biological interactions, and as such are often the first to know about potentially helpful or harmful interactions between chemicals.

Pharmaceutical companies consult with KOLs to ensure that the therapies they create are being used safely and are producing expected outcomes in patients. Additionally, these consultations keep the pharmaceutical company on the leading edge of new or emerging thinking about how to treat patients, as KOL’s typically operate on the frontiers.

Over the past 5 years Takeda used ready-to-use technologies to identify primarily clinical KOLs, but the results were discouraging, as these products weren’t customized to Takeda’s needs and their outputs weren’t specific enough to truly answer the company’s questions. Mike and his technology team worked to combat this lack of specificity by conducting an experiment (in collaboration with the Takeda Digital Accelerator team) with an established large-company / corporate consulting vendor to develop machine learning processes. Although the pilot provided some insights into the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for discerning specific KOL segments, the capabilities of the supplier were not the perfect fit at the time.

In 2016, Takeda, through the Takeda Digital Accelerator team, nominated Mike to spend his Fridays at MATTER as a Living Lab fellow, a program designed to encourage collaboration on common healthcare challenges between innovators within MATTER’s healthcare industry partner organizations and member startup companies.

Jason, meanwhile, was working to identify which academic researchers were studying conditions and subject matter relevant to the development of new drugs, hoping to license his product to pharmaceutical companies looking for the latest in R&D. To help this process his team was developing a deep learning platform, allowing rMark Bio to learn and adapt to what recommendations are most helpful to its users.

But while his product was promising, Jason was struggling, too. He was having trouble connecting with the pharmaceutical executives who would eventually use his product, and he ultimately didn’t know if he was building something that pharma companies would actually pay for.

The Pivot

At this point, MATTER VP of Programs Maryam Saleh recognized the potential synergies between Mike and Jason’s projects and introduced the two. The collaboration made sense on paper: Jason would get the feedback he needed, while Mike had a potential solution to the problem he’d been looking to solve.

But Mike’s problem wasn’t exactly the one Jason was solving. He needed to identify integrated delivery network and accountable care organization “KOLs,” not the academics that rMark Bio was working on identifying. After a few initial meetings, Mike realized rMark Bio’s potential for filling the gap identified from the previous experiment. Mike then pitched Jason on a big pivot: if rMark Bio could extend their platform and algorithms to identify KOLs that meet changing criteria for engagement with the Medical Affairs department, Takeda may be interested in licensing it.

It was a much broader scope than Jason and Lev had initially planned for their minimum viable product, however, they recognized that a decision-maker at one of the largest pharma companies in the world was telling them explicitly how to work with them.

So they went for it.

The Project

Because both individuals were active at MATTER, they could meet regularly. Jason learned a great deal from these meetings as he got an inside view into Takeda’s operations, previous attempts to solve the clinical KOL problem, and their decision-making process. He worked with Mike to get his product audited and accepted by Takeda’s IT. Further, he learned how to navigate the legal and procurement processes of a large pharmaceutical company.

For his part, Mike could provide insights to customize portions of rMark Bio’s identification and recommendation platform to ensure they met Takeda’s dynamic needs up front, rather than trying to force ready-to-use products into an awkward fit or struggling to wade through tons of raw data output from machine learning algorithms.

Takeda essentially had the best of both worlds: the customization and computing power of machine learning with the user interface and ease of use of ready-to-use solutions.

Today, rMark Bio and Takeda have a pilot agreement, under which rMark Bio will deploy its app to help about 20 Takeda employees identify clinical KOLs. Mike and Jason hope to continue the partnership after the pilot, and Takeda plans to be the first enterprise to license rMark Bio with the potential for 60 Takeda employees to use the technology, and perhaps even more, across the globe.


Both parties came away from the collaboration significantly better than before they decided to work together. Takeda essentially got a product that immediately solves an existing problem, without any up-front research and development cost. rMark Bio, meanwhile, got a product roadmap from a big company, immediately bordered their future opportunities for companies with similar challenges, received a potential customer, and gained a strong understanding of the buying and audit processes at big pharma companies.

The two learned how to “speak each other’s language” as well. Jason knows how to communicate his value proposition in a way big pharma would accept. And Mike learned to appreciate the startup “language” with which Jason communicates, embracing the genuine and open communication style that rules the startup world. Freely sharing ideas and criticisms, as he and Jason do, is a tenet of true innovation, while corporate culture tends to favor abstraction of language and obfuscation of ideas.

Jason now feels comfortable navigating the sales cycle at companies like Takeda and says it’s critical to have an internal champion, like Mike, as early as possible in the sales process.

Mike agrees. He believes his role as champion for innovation and startup liaison was critical to Takeda developing a solution for KOL identification, and says that any company looking to emulate his success with rMark Bio needs a senior executive dedicated to innovation. Further, he credits Takeda’s leadership for providing the resources and vision to support innovation projects.


Mike and Jason’s successful collaboration is an example of exactly what we do at MATTER. Thanks to Jason’s MATTER membership, Takeda’s MATTER partnership, the Living Lab program, and Maryam’s warm introduction, Jason and Mike could work together and build something that neither could have done on his own.

Stories like Mike and Jason’s encourage the innovators here – both those working on their own startups and those within our healthcare industry partner organizations – that it is possible to break out of their individual silos and use innovation to accelerate the development of game- changing solutions that can move the industry forward.

Ian Manners Wants to Reduce Out-of-pocket Prescription Drug Costs

Vivor helps connect qualifying patients with financial assistance programs.

Posted December 8, 2016
by Clayton Gentry
MATTER Journalism Resident

ianmannersOut-of-pocket drug costs have risen dramatically in recent years. And while the vast majority of patients qualify for financial assistance programs funded by the pharmaceutical companies that produce the drugs, less than a quarter of those patients ever receive the money for which they qualify. Ian Manners, CEO of the financial assistance search platform Vivor, is on a mission to fix that.

“It’s just such a shame that there’s this money available that people are not getting,” Manners said. “It’s forcing them into bankruptcy, to forego treatment — all these negative consequences, whereas if you just do a better job of matching up the money with those who need it, you can make a really big dent in the problem.”

There are many financial assistance programs to offset out-of-pocket drug costs, but healthcare providers often lack the resources to efficiently match patients with those programs. That’s where Vivor comes in.

“It’s just such a shame that there’s this money available that people are not getting”

“We built this proprietary system that lets us first catalog all of the financial assistance programs that are out there — I mean hundreds of them — with all of their details and eligibility rules,” Manners said.

Vivor uses public information to build and update its database, checking program websites twice daily to keep track of updates in close to real-time. It also maintains direct relationships with the pharmaceutical companies and nonprofit foundations that sponsor these programs.

Manners said those relationships are key to Vivor’s future. One important component of the company’s near-term product pipeline is enabling patients to actually apply for programs through the platform, rather than just discover them.

“How can we make it so that once you’ve found the right financial assistance… we can just electronically start an application with one of these foundations or manufacturers?” Manners asked. “By partnering with those organizations directly.”

At the beginning of October, Vivor received an NIH grant of $1.73 million to be paid out over two and a half years. Manners said the grant will support team growth and new R&D projects, including the aforementioned enrollment problem and more patient-facing technologies.

“We’re creating a first version of a mobile app that patients will be able to use themselves to find financial assistance,” Manners said, though he noted that Vivor still considers itself a B2B company whose users will be introduced to the app by a care provider.

Moreover, he said that Vivor hopes to work with revenue cycle management companies, that is, the institutions that provide financial services to hundreds of hospitals at once.

“We see ourselves long-term as the place where all of these financial assistance resources get exchanged,” Manners said. “It’s not just about offsetting drug co-pays. It’s about all other financial needs that people have. So that out-of-pocket costs are never the barrier to people getting what they need.”

“It’s about all other financial needs that people have. So that out-of-pocket costs are never the barrier to people getting what they need.”

For more on Ian Manners, see his LinkedIn profile.

rMark Bio Personalizes Academic and Clinical Partnership Research

The platform uses artificial intelligence to recommend key opinion leaders that align with users’ strategic business interests.

Posted November 16, 2016
by Clayton Gentry
MATTER Journalism Resident

Jason Smith, rMark BioAcademic and clinical partnerships are critical for pharmaceutical companies developing new products. It’s not hard to identify the handful of top opinion leaders in any given therapeutic area, but, until now, finding the bulk of the physicians and scientists working in a particular area – even ones with a considerable scope of influence – has been challenging. The process today involves little more than keyword search and filtration. rMark Bio modernizes this process, applying artificial intelligence to overhaul the identification of potential partners.

rMark Bio feeds users’ internal data, such as CRM information, budgets, investments, and clinical trials, into their own intelligence engine backed by AI technologies including IBM’s Watson and Google’s TensorFlow. After processing this information, rMark curates a personalized list of key opinion leaders (KOLs) for the user to validate and engage.

“Global health data is great for mining, for looking for KOLs, but it’s very generic in its results,” rMark CEO Jason Smith said. “The only way to get that highly tailored is to understand the end user and the organization itself.”

“The only way to get that highly tailored is to understand the end user and the organization itself.”

At the Medical Affairs Strategic Summit (MASS) West 2016 in September, Smith demonstrated the effect of rMark’s proprietary personalization techniques. A generic search for Type II diabetes KOLs returned more than 7,000 results. Applying generic filters like, “Only KOLs who aren’t already in my database” reduced the count to 1,311. But through personalization, Smith said the platform reduced the number of relevant KOLs to 52 — a field large enough to be useful, but small enough that the company could individually engage and validate its constituents.

rMark launched on September 15 and onboarded its first beta customer in October. Smith said the process will take between four and six weeks for the initial beta users, which gives rMark time to integrate with the users’ own proprietary data.

“The nice thing is the more we do, the less and less manual it gets and the faster it becomes,” he said. “So the connectors between these proprietary databases, while unique the first time, won’t be the second time. While the data may be different, the database connectors are not.”

“The nice thing is the more we do, the less and less manual it gets and the faster it becomes”

Smith is looking for three to five beta users, depending on the sizes of the organizations. He added that one requirement of the beta program is that rMark must be allowed to interface with the user on a quarterly basis.

“We know we have the right key features that provide value today,” Smith said. “But we also know each organization is a little different in what they need to translate that data to business action. With this beta program, we’re willing to do some of that work to tailor even the front-end and the features of that solution uniquely to them.”

Smith said he believes this “white-glove service” will always be a component of rMark Bio’s mission, even as the company scales and automates more of its onboarding protocol. After all, a personal touch is fitting for a company that champions personalization.

For more on Smith, visit his LinkedIn profile.

Kate Wolin’s Company ScaleDown Aims to Make Weight Loss a Habit

A scale and a smartphone are all it takes.

katewolin-croppedMore than 70 percent of Americans are overweight, according to the CDC, and almost everyone who is overweight expresses a desire to lose weight. Yet few achieve their goals, and even fewer maintain their ideal weight. This problem has been a focus of Dr. Kate Wolin’s – a Harvard-trained scientist with deep expertise in behavior change – for more than 15 years. Her company, ScaleDown, uses a sophisticated behavioral phenotyping engine to get people to do just one thing: weigh themselves every single day, because research shows the more frequently a person weighs, the more likely he or she is to lose weight.

ScaleDown provides, cost-effectively and at scale, what personal weight loss coaches do for those who can both afford them and manage the time commitment. Every day, ScaleDown users get text messages in response to their daily weight, based on a sophisticated algorithm that generates individualized feedback.

“The behavioral phenotyping engine is our way of personalizing that feedback without the expense and the reach challenges that coaches can raise,” Wolin said. “I will have the best intentions to show up every Tuesday for that coaching session, but then, you know, I have this work event, or my kid has a thing at school, and I miss it.”

The key to real, sustained weight loss, Wolin said, is consistency.

“Weight, like many other chronic-disease related behaviors, is something you have to be attentive to every day,” she said. “We’re not about quick weight loss. We’re about helping you lose that weight and keep it off. It’s a lifestyle change.”

“We’re not about quick weight loss. We’re about helping you lose that weight and keep it off. It’s a lifestyle change.”

And that lifestyle change has implications beyond looking and feeling better. Much of Wolin’s own research surrounds the relationship between obesity and disease, including cancer.

“A lot of people know that heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of both morbidity and mortality in the US,” she said. “But many people are unaware that obesity is a risk factor for thirteen different cancers… While we don’t collect information on people’s chronic disease profiles at ScaleDown, I hope we are shifting that risk curve for folks who haven’t been diagnosed.”

Wolin met her two co-founders Gary Bennett and Dori Steinberg when they were students at Harvard. Their impetus for building ScaleDown came from their shared interest in serving people who couldn’t easily engage with the medical system.

Today, ScaleDown serves more than 20,000 active users, and they have had more than 110,000 users since they began selling their product. Their research shows that 93 percent of ScaleDown users have experienced clinically meaningful results, which compares to 40 percent in other weight-loss programs.

“We’ve gotten great traction and had enough users come through that we’ve really been able to build a robust product,” she said. “And now it’s about finding the right partners and channels for growing the business.”
For more on Kate Wolin, see her LinkedIn and Twitter.

Dima Elissa Wants to 3D-print You

Posted October 17
By Clayton Gentry
MATTER Journalism Fellow

The serial entrepreneur and technologist’s biomedical design firm creates 3D replicas of body parts for physicians, educators, and medical attorneys alike.

dimaelissaMuch of the healthcare world is based on established averages, but averages are just that – and data from individuals often doesn’t match them. That’s why serial Chicago entrepreneur Dima Elissa wants to create a new standard.

“Our world is built around the measures that a 70 kg white male presents,” she said. “Our houses, our homes, our cars, our approaches in medicine — be it drugs, formulations of treatment care paths, or medical devices.”

Elissa’s company, VisMed-3D, uses visualization and 3D printing technology to provide healthcare specialists, educators, and even medical attorneys with hyper-realistic models of real patient anatomy.

“Imagine that I take a scan of you,” Elissa said. “I recreate it in a mesh model… so I can granularly drive through the cockles of your heart, to the veins in your brain and all that vasculature, and it’s you.” The process of printing a body part usually starts with an MRI or CT scan. These scans provide slices that VisMed-3D uses to assemble a model that can either be printed or rendered digitally.

These renderings can be used by a doctor planning a surgery, a medical school professor who wants to exhibit an edge case, or attorneys in medical malpractice lawsuits.

“We’re as different on the outside as we are on the inside,” Elissa said. “[But] we’re working off of average data and expected assumptions around a body. I think patients don’t yet appreciate what that truly means for them, and why they should care.”

“I think patients don’t yet appreciate what that truly means for them, and why they should care.”

So she’s spreading the word. At last month’s TechUp Career Fair in New York, VisMed-3D took 3D selfie demos, capturing about 150 people with a 3D scanner and printing tiny replicas of them. They will also attend Chicago Ideas Week October 17-23, where they’ll demo how they’ll soon be able to present patient-specific data sets to increase the quality and delivery of healthcare.

As healthcare evolves, it must better cater to individuals, rather than averages, Elissa said.

“As we improve our ability to treat and plan and devise remedies for chronic conditions and otherwise, we need to factor in the variability of individuals,” Elissa said. “We’re not all the same.”

“We’re not all the same.”

Elissa can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn.

MATTER Member Profile: James Lloyd of Redox

Posted October 5
By Clayton Gentry
MATTER Journalism Fellow

A Former Epic Employee is Connecting Disparate EHR Systems

james-22016 medical records don’t belong in manila folders. For years, health systems around the world have put resources into digitizing those records, introducing quicker accessibility, stronger security, and cloud storage. Unfortunately for third party engineers, there’s no universal standard — every health system stores data differently.

That’s why James Lloyd, alongside Niko Skievaski and Luke Bonney, built Redox, an electronic health records integration platform. The trio began work on the platform in 2014 to provide a layer of digital translation atop an array of disparate EHR systems.

“We have some common languages, but each health system has its own dialect,” Lloyd said. “So we try to provide that universal translation and normalization layer so that everybody can talk in one true language.”

“Each health system has its own dialect”

Redox is not Lloyd’s first excursion into healthcare. He began his work in the space with Madison-based EHR company Epic. There, he was able to work on problems he characterized as “intrapreneurial,” internal projects that required an entrepreneurial approach. One project was a communication framework to help Epic headquarters communicate with Epic health systems around the country.

“The projects I was doing before that were just for fun to help out internally,” he said. “But [the communication framework] had a big enough impact that then I shifted into working on interoperability and web services; more on the integration side of things.” Interoperability and web integration would ultimately serve as the basis for Redox.

But first, the trio jumped into the incubator world. Skievaski co-founded Wisconsin’s largest co-working space 100State, and Lloyd joined its board of directors. Then, with Bonney, they founded a healthcare startup incubator called 100Health. “It was a very, very early-stage incubator,” Lloyd said. “It worked really well except for the part where we had to figure out how to pay ourselves.”

“It worked really well except for the part where we had to figure out how to pay ourselves.”

Questions around investor payout and keeping the incubator’s lights on ultimately forced the founders to scrap 100Health. But in helping build its member companies, Lloyd discovered that several needed EHR integration support, and thus realized a single, reusable tool to support that integration might make sense. This tool represented the kernel of inspiration that would ultimately yield Redox.

Now – two years later – Redox supports dozens of health systems and hundreds of application vendors today. The website hosts a gallery of applications built with Redox support. The company is also working on partnerships with EHR systems to create a sandbox environment that will allow developers to simulate integrations via Redox.

Lloyd said these days he spends most of his time figuring out the challenges application developers face today and where the healthcare software market is headed. He also works to support the application’s robustness to ensure that, as Redox scales, it can handle all the extra weight.

“Sometimes it metaphorically keeps me up at night, and sometimes it literally keeps me up at night,” Lloyd said. “But I think looking back 20 years from now I would be unsatisfied if I was doing something that didn’t have real world impact. The high impact comes with high responsibility.”

For more on James, see his LinkedIn.