In these difficult times when the world has been going through a pandemic, these ten entrepreneurs are at the forefront of driving innovation in healthcare in the world.
Neil J. Thomas, Rheoxtech
As a founder, principal inventor and Chief Medical Officer of Rheoxtech, based in Chicago, veteran cardiac surgeon, Neil J. Thomas, is currently researching purposefully limiting oxygen exposure of struggling heart muscle with colleagues at Harvard Medical School. Doctor Thomas is changing the way the world thinks about treating heart attacks. As an award-winning surgeon, he has performed thousands of open-heart surgeries and has led the way in introducing new paradigms for cardiac protection during the most serious heart attacks and other coronary problems. As an author and one of our most inspiring entrepreneurs this year, his expertise is on display in a book chapter published in 2016 and, most recently in 2021, a white paper summary and review of decades of interventional (catheter-based) and surgical research on coronary artery disease and protection of the heart. Dr. Thomas says, “the world of percutaneous intervention and surgical protection is finally converging”. With the advent of ever-improving catheter technologies, surgeons and cardiologists will be able to work side-by-side (as they are with valves) to rescue patients during the most dangerous heart attacks, which lead to death and disability for millions of persons around the world every year.
Nearly a life-long Chicagoan, Neil J. Thomas, MD, founded Rheoxtech 14 years ago with his partner and serial entrepreneur, Gintaras Vaisnys. Since then, the company has successfully raised millions in investment from both public and private sources and has prosecuted an impressive array of patent claims on its sophisticated blood delivery system. During a heart attack, the blood and oxygen supply to one or more areas of the heart is abruptly choked off. “The novelty of our approach stems from decades of research demonstrating less tissue injury when we carefully control flow and oxygen delivery to the heart in the most serious cases' ', Dr. Thomas explained. He went on to say that as healthcare and major health systems evolve into the future, reducing death from coronary events that lead to shock-like states and other unstable situations won’t be enough. “We need to look deeper and determine better ways to treat patients up front so that survivors have a brighter future. Avoiding a heart transplant is great, but not if you get readmitted to the hospital all the time with heart failure and require additional expensive therapies”.
Rheoxtech is rapidly establishing itself as the world leader in controlled blood and oxygen delivery in situations where risk of death and subsequent heart failure is the highest. According to Dr. Thomas, who was recently accepted to the Harvard School of Public Health, early management of the heart muscle has everything to do with what happens in the next month, six months and six years for such patients. “We are partnering with industry and academic leaders to make catheter-based approaches safer because, in some cases, the advancing technology is outpacing the data to support its use”, Dr. Thomas said. He was careful to explain that “the rapid pace of developing and enabling technologies is critical, but Rheoxtech has positioned itself to be ready to guide industry leaders and FDA on next steps. “In so doing”, Thomas says, “clinicians will have the tools they require to not merely save more lives; but to allow better quality of life for heart attack survivors and their families”. Lower costs of care for such patients for the health care system will also be a critical piece in the future.
Angela Yochem, Novant Health
Angela Yochem is EVP, Chief Transformation and Digital Officer for Novant Health, a super-regional healthcare system with one of the largest medical groups in the US. She and her teams oversee growth initiatives, and deliver the world-class consumer capabilities, differentiating technologies, and advanced clinical solutions that allow the integrated system to provide remarkable patient care.
Angela has served as EVP/CIO at Rent-A-Center, Global CIO at BDP International, Global CTO at AstraZeneca, and divisional CIO at Dell. She’s held tech exec roles at Bank of America and SunTrust, and held senior technology roles at UPS and IBM. In these roles, she built B2B digital product lines, grew digital retail channels (B2C), created technical services lines of business, and transformed global technology capabilities.
Angela is an Independent Director with Zurich American Insurance Group, and has been a Director for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, BDP Transport, BDP Global Services Asia and Europe, and Rocana, with experience on Audit, Enterprise Risk, Operational Risk, and Governance/Policy committees. She remains an Entrepreneur in Residence, Mentor, and Advisor for venture groups and incubators on both US coasts. Angela serves on the board of Freedom School Partners, a non-profit committed to promoting literacy in the Charlotte area, and co-chairs the executive team of the Go Red for Women Charlotte organization, part of the American Heart Association. She is a Trustee of the Charlotte Regional Business Initiative where she co-chaired the successful city bonds campaign in 2020, and is an advisory board member for the American Hospital Association Innovation Council, the University of Tennessee Tickle School of Engineering, the UT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department, and the University of North Carolina Charlotte College of Computing and Informatics.
Angela has a Bachelor of Music from DePauw University and a Master of Science in Computer Science from the University of Tennessee, holds three US Patents and is an author with Addison-Wesley and Prentice-Hall.
Michael J. Demetriou, Pano Med
Pano Med is a digital health app that combines the best of online and in-person medicine.
From crowded waiting rooms to virtual queues, assembly line medicine has become the norm. But Pano’s telehealth and house call platform focuses on alleviating the most common pain points of patients and providers alike.
After achieving acclaim in commercial real estate, Michael found his passion for family wellness when his wife experienced a severe case of postpartum depression alongside the loss of her father. As he learned to balance providing and parenting, he became frustrated by the limitations of traditional childcare.
Realizing “it takes a village”, Michael created one. What began as a care app featuring sitters with medical training, has since evolved into a “B2B2C” house call and telehealth platform.
On the provider side, Pano offers physicians and APRNs a full-service “virtual office” at 1/100th the startup cost of a brick-and-mortar practice and ⅓ the annual fee of leading SaaS competitors.
For patients, Pano is the most personal digital health app on the market, allowing users to choose their own doctor, avoid virtual waiting rooms, request in-home visits, and more.
Susan Hearn, Germane Solutions
Germane Solutions is the preeminent and most trusted Academic Medicine and Graduate Medical Education (GME) consulting firm in the United States. Their team of experts provide targeted solutions to healthcare organizations in an effort to build and optimize the most successful, effective, and financially viable GME programs in the country. Germane’s mission is to build sustainable physician pipelines and improve the overall health status of the population.
As the Chief Executive Officer, Susan Hearn drives the overall mission and vision of Germane. She leads all external partnerships and strategic initiatives and oversees the company’s growing expansion efforts.
Her vision and leadership are driven by her passion for excellence. Her career has been focused on delivering innovative solutions and driving measurable results for clients. She is recognized in the industry as a talented leader and an entrepreneurial strategist able to bring new innovative ideas that work to transform the industry.
Ms. Hearn who started her career as a Registered Nurse has always had a passion for wellness and a desire to impact the health of others. She brings this passion and over 35 years of experience in clinical and administrative healthcare to her work at Germane. Her substantial experience as a registered nurse and healthcare consultant brings to bear all the knowledge and experience of a clinician along with a broad-based understanding of the healthcare industry. This unique insight informs her work in all areas of healthcare consulting.
Prior to assuming the CEO role, Ms. Hearn oversees all operations for Germane’s National Academic Medicine Consulting Group. Ms. Hearn also served as a Senior Manager and leader in the healthcare practice at Deloitte Consulting. While in that role, she led many of the firm’s large-scale healthcare engagements in the areas of operations, strategy, and Graduate Medical Education. Ms. Hearn holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the College of Mt. Saint Joseph and an MBA from the University of Cincinnati.
Renee Lohman, Navigator Homes of New England LLC
When Renee Lohman needed to find residential, skilled nursing care for family members, she visited a plethora of facilities with drab hallways crowded with medical equipment and a few patients slumped in wheelchairs; hundreds of shared bedrooms, each divided by a hospital curtain. With 32 years of experience in startup, development, financing, management, and operations of healthcare services, she set out to disrupt the institutional model of long-term care. She learned of “The Green House Project”, where each home contains 12-14 private bedrooms/bathroom, an open plan living/dining room, copious natural light, a patio with raised garden beds, and a country kitchen where the residents can share their favorite recipes.
As the Founder and CEO of Navigator Elder Homes of New England, LLC, Renee has demonstrated that after Covid, after the loss of over 230,000 lives in institutional nursing homes, there is now an enormous awareness and need and interest in the Green House Model as the safer alternative for Assisted Living, Memory Care and Skilled Nursing.
Committed to creating safe, comfortable, and engaging homelike settings, Renee is developing Green House Project inspired homes in New England, including the $43 million-dollar, non-profit Navigator Homes of Martha’s Vineyard, which in 2023 will replace the only existing nursing home on the Island. On Cape Cod, Renee is bringing new innovation through repurposing through the conversion of an existing hotel to that which will provide a new housing community for older adults.
Prior to her work to improve longevity, in 2012, when residents of MA were still going to hospital emergency rooms for low-acuity routine medical care, Renee founded, funded and scaled the first chain of Urgent Care Centers in Greater Boston, CareWell Urgent Care Centers.
Chaun Powell, Premier Inc
Despite the breakneck speed of innovation in healthcare, adoption of new technologies at scale is largely the slowest of any industry.
The average adoption cycle of a new clinical practice is over 17 years. Why? There are over 36,000 randomized clinical trials published every year in the US alone- that’s nearly 100 every day. With new data coming out daily, clinicians and practitioners struggle to keep up with latest innovations and are often prudent to be conservative in adoption while additional testing is conducted. Despite the fact that the adoption cycle has arguably accelerated during the COVID pandemic, the back and forth with data and efficacy has been a perfect demonstration of why healthcare practitioners are slow to adopt. That's where our next entrepreneur finds his sweet spot.
Chaun Powell has been a lifelong entrepreneur, yet his strength is more on the intrapreneurial side of assisting large healthcare suppliers in their quest to address the latency of adoption challenges across the industry. From introducing new clinical technologies like Sonoma Orthopedics flexible to rigid intramedullary nail for clavicle fractures to the launch of Emerge Medical’s generic orthopedic implant portfolio which was quickly acquired by Cardinal Health, Chaun has developed a passion for challenging the status quo, introducing disruption, and bringing it to the forefront of execution. Fast forward to today and the business side of healthcare has never been in greater need of his skills. Chaun is currently on a mission with Remitra, the epayables division of Premier Inc., to eliminate manual processes in the antiquated AP/AR processes where nearly eighty five percent of healthcare’s B2B payments are paper based and contribute an additional eighteen to twenty-two billion dollars in unnecessary healthcare expense.
Kerry Lee Perry, IPG
Kerry has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry, with both Fortune 500 companies like 3M and private equity backed IPG. She has a passion for improving healthcare, forming extensive knowledge and expertise in both the services and technology arenas, successfully partnering with payers, providers and patients across the country.
With her continued upward trajectory, she has had an impressive career to-date. In her multi-faceted role at IPG, she serves as a key member of the Executive team leading the umbrella of Marketing, Strategic Operations and key company initiatives. Building these efforts from the ground up, she has assisted in the significant growth and profitability of the Company year-over-year, leading them to be named a record eight times on the Inc. 5000 List of Fastest Growing Companies. She was also key in the recent transaction deal for IPG.
Kerry attributes her success to her ability to connect with internal and external stakeholders and build strong, trusting relationships at all levels, along with her rare mix of combining strategic thinking with a no-nonsense, get it done approach. She is motivated by achieving results through her efforts and successful collaboration with others.
Karen Root, Boehringer Ingelheim
Karen Root is an executive with more than two decades of experience in healthcare including medical devices, biopharma, and pharmaceuticals. Her background spans more broadly to include computer software, publishing, and consumer packaged goods.
She finds practical ways to derive business success with practical application of cutting-edge technology, she has led strategy, brand, and marketing for companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 multinational organizations.
While at WL Gore & Associates, she led the development of Clinical Quality Improvement projects partnering with organizations including Surgical Momentum and CQInsights, in real-time review of clinical pathways relative to ensuring biomaterial success to improve the value of care for patients – working with both academic and community surgeons, bringing voice of the customer to collaborate on evidence-based improvement ideas.
She was at the forefront of partnering with hospital administrators in developing value analysis perspectives and supporting the triple aim from the manufacturer perspective. Working with AHVAP and other groups representing manufacturers as partners. She then leaped forward to bring Customer Experience to WL Gore & Associates, leaving as Enterprise Lead of Brand & Culture for the organization.
Currently the Director of Experience Strategy for Boehringer-Ingelheim, she utilized her background leading digital for Sanofi Pasteur, and has become a thought leader on customer experience and digital transformation and is a regular keynote on both subjects.
Karen is now adding innovative experience design in the Metaverse. Certified in blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, NFT/Smart Contracts and as a metaverse expert. She has a patent pending in smart contracts and is exploring integrating healthcare for providers and customers in meta realities. An organizational tranformationist and technology strategist, we look forward to what’s next from this meta-mind.
Doug Hudson, Tend
When Tend — a dental startup born out of the need for systemic change across the industry to focus on patient happiness — opened its first location in October 2019, its leadership team had no idea a global pandemic was around the corner. After opening two additional locations in New York City, they quickly realized a shutdown was imminent and closed all physical locations in March 2020. The future of the company, which had planned to rapidly scale brick-and-mortar locations in an industry where physical contact was unavoidable, seemed in question.
Under the leadership of CEO Doug Hudson, a serial healthcare entrepreneur and former founding CEO of SmileDirectClub, Tend was steadfast in its mission to serve the community, especially in uncertain times. Within just two months, the company reopened its doors to support those in need of care, with new measures in place to ensure the safety of our patients and our team in the studio.
A quick pivot by Tend’s clinical and operations teams meant the implementation of several new protocols, including pre-and-post visit health checks, contactless check-in, staggered visit times (which meant zero waiting), required sanitizations, and single-use or sterilized clinical equipment and supplies. Tend also began offering same-day dentistry to give patients the options to move forward with recommended procedures immediately, rather than return a different day, to decrease the number of potential exposures and risk.
Being able to operate while keeping both employees and patients safe was not only beneficial to the community, but good for business. Having proven that dental is a durable retail model, Tend went on to open three additional locations in 2020 before quadrupling in size and going nationwide in 2021. Under Hudson’s leadership, the company was able to expand to three additional cities throughout the East Coast. Currently, Tend operates 21 studios across New York City, Washington DC, Boston and Atlanta, with plans to expand its footprint significantly in 2022 and beyond.
Seth Rainford, Digital Diagnostics
Seth Rainford is paving a path for autonomous AI to become the new standard of care in healthcare while focusing on improving patient outcomes and reducing health disparities. Rainford’s passion for excellence and equity can be seen in his leadership style that prioritizes people, both externally through product design and implementation, and internally through the development of strong company culture tied to a central mission.
Rainford is the Co-Founder, President, and COO at Digital Diagnostics, the first company to receive FDA clearance for an autonomous AI diagnostic system. Rainford focuses on expanding market opportunities and driving operational excellence within the company thanks to more than a decade of executive experience including the successful management of large-scale P&L’s, strong organic & inorganic business development expertise, and complex multi-site operations leadership within the healthcare industry. Prior to Digital Diagnostic, Rainford served as Regional Vice President & General Manager of LabCorp in the Greater Chicago Area, leading a strategic transformation of the Midwest business unit. Previously, he served as Vice President at Northwestern Medicine, where he drove the commercialization and scaling of their outreach diagnostics business.
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