Seattle continues to grow a strong health innovation community, reflected by this years 2018 Finalists of the Seattle Innovators of the Year Awards. Successful innovation in an industry as complex as healthcare requires a combination of Collaboration, Customer Focus, Imagination, and Perseverance. On December 6th at the Cambia Grove, Health Innovation NW will recognize a remarkable set of individuals who exemplify these qualities.
Brad Walker – Orthopedic Wellness Laboratories | Christian Severt – CuraCloud | David Atkins, PhD – UW / Lyssn.io | Kerry M. Curran – Lung Technologies | Lynn McGrath, MD PupilScreen | Mahesh Mulumudi, MD -Steth IO | Maitreyee Joshi – Microsoft | Michele Mehl – Excy | Peter Harris – Longevity Surgical, Inc. | Ran Baror – Gulp Baby | Shawn Iadonato, PhD – Kineta | Sundar Balasubramanian – Xealth
If you would like to join us for our Annual Awards and Holiday Party and want to help us celebrate this year’s Health Innovators of the Year, please RSVP via our event page.
Carly Eckert, MD
Innovator: Carly Eckert, MD
Nominator: Corinne Strom
Dr. Carly is a valued member of KenSci’s Research and Healthcare Insights Teams. Each day, she uses her experience as a Medical Doctor, skills in epidemiology, and knowledge of clinical informatics on research and pilot efforts in both the US and United Kingdom, expanding the utilization of machine learning in healthcare across international borders.
She spans both outbound activities – partnering with customers and research groups – and inbound work, ensuring that fellow “KenScientists” can build the next generation of solutions for customers. On any given day, Carly might be collaborating with a front-end developer on reporting experiences, brainstorming data schemas, or co-leading a Machine Learning workshop for the IT team of an integrated delivery network. She has become an evangelist for providers who augment their repertoire of knowledge and skills with the best outputs that Data Science can offer. Approachable, enthusiastic, and willing to roll up her sleeves and work in data, Dr. Carly Eckert is an ideal team member and collaborator.
Elya Prystowsky, PhD
Innovator: Elya Prystowsky, PhD
Organization: Health Commons
Nominator: Rob Arnold
With 12 years of training as an epidemiologist and five years of experience leading a local nonprofit health collaborative, Elya is grounded by the belief that healthcare is local, and therefore solutions to the problems that exist today must derive from the local experience. She drives toward improved population health by blending her experience and training with her passion for our communities.
Through partnerships, Elya and the Health Commons Team (Quad Aim Partners, Accountable Community of Care on the Olympic peninsula and Greater Columbia and Puget Sound Fire) developed and implemented systems that coordinated care efficiently and effectively, made life better for the many providers implementing an easy and efficient digital system instead of clumsy and inefficient phone calls. (~80% of their calls are medical and social and caused by a small cohort of vulnerable people) This system is now implemented in Clallam County and soon to be implemented at Puget Sound Fire and in central Washington.
Innovator: Daphne Pie
Organization: Public Health Seattle and King County
Nominator: Pam MacEwan
Daphne Pie has been laser focused on reaching and facilitating access to health care throughout King County since 2013, particularly for those who experience the most significant health disparities. Daphne has formed partnerships with organizations throughout King County to target outreach and enrollment efforts. She has been able to hire individuals from target communities as Navigators. Data shows that these targeted outreach efforts make a difference. The Office of Financial Management reported that from 2013 through 2016, King County reduced the rate of uninsured among its residents by 60%. Overall, despite having the largest population in Washington, King County has one of the lowest rates for residents who remain uninsured at only 4.5%.
For every obstacle that presents itself, Daphne relentlessly pursues a solution. Her genuine passion, compassion for the people of her community, and her drive are an inspiration throughout the Navigator community.
Innovator: Oren Nissim
Organization: Brook Health
Nominator: Heather King
Oren approached the issue of chronic disease self-management from a place of trying to manage his own diabetes and not finding the ideal tools to do so. Brook Personal Health Companion was created to provide access and accountability to people who need to make many daily decisions to keep themselves healthy.
Oren has worked tirelessly to partner with health insurance companies and other digital health tech companies to provide a user experience that truly delivers on its promise to always be there, working in the background. He is an inspirational leader in the field of health tech, with a focus on the individual user.
Innovator: David Cerino
Organization: Providence St Joseph Health Group
Nominator: Mark Long
David Cerino, Product Leader for Digital and Innovation, new “Express Care” service from Providence and Swedish. Developing relationships with patients, clinicians, payers, and health system leaders, David led the digital platform critical to Express Care’s success. Express Care was launched at stand-alone locations, inside 40 Walgreens retail locations, via telehealth, and with @Home service. In 3 years, Express Care has delivered 250,000 encounters to those who may have had to wait for a primary care opening, gone to the emergency room, or simply not had access to care. The @Home service is critical to those with mobility issues or often when multiple family members need care. Simply put, delayed care or lack of access is just bad care.
In addition to growing a service from 0 to 250,000 encounters, David achieved a “Net Promoter Score” (NPS) of over 70. NPS measures the willingness of customers to recommend services to others. For comparison, Amazon’s NPS is 64 and Apple’s is 70. This is unheard of in the healthcare arena and a concrete measurement of David’s intense Customer Focus.
Innovator: Jill Angelo
Nominator: Shannon Perry
Jill Angelo, founder of Genneve, is addressing a gap in information and care for middle-aged women in the menopause years. So many women are under- or mis-informed about what to expect and how soon in life to expect it. Jill has been scouting partners in tech and healthcare to find ways to bring access to more women – especially those in rural areas facing a growing shortage of ob/gyns – via the company’s telehealth platform.
Jill and her team have built a very solid foundation of health care advisors and a library of blogs and podcasts that are thoroughly researched. Next up for the company is a wearable, to collect data that will not only help the individual woman understand her body better but will hopefully help inform research decisions within the greater health care community.
Innovator: Robbie Cape
Nominator: Bryan Gibbs
Robbie Cape, co-founder of 98point6, passionately believes everyone deserves quality, affordable primary care. In 2015, he co-founded 98point6 to harness the power of technology to make primary care more accessible and affordable. The impetus and need for 98point6 was clear. Long wait times, rising costs and the inconvenience of getting to a doctor’s office has also contributed to consumer disengagement from a relationship with primary care. 98point6 offers diagnosis and treatment from board-certified physicians via in-app messaging, at a fraction of the cost of existing primary care options. The company leverages Artificial Intelligence to handle administrative tasks for physicians, so they can spend more time treating patients. Soon after starting 98point6, Robbie assembled a Medical Advisory Board, a team of 18 distinguished physicians to serve as strategic advisors to 98point6.
Since launching its employer offering in January of 2018, 98point6 has already contracted with 33 companies across the nation and in a range of industries (including retail, technology, financial services, healthcare and manufacturing), and is on track to have 100,000 members under contract through employers by the end of the year.
Innovator: Brad Walker
Organization: Orthopedic Wellness Laboratories
Nominator: Bill McClain
With a mission to expand the range of pain-free movement, Brad Walker and his startup team are addressing an unmet need. The opportunity: Consider whiplash and concussion. The OWL device will provide patients with baseline and progress measurements before, during and after a rotational muscle strengthening rehab program and highlight individual patients’ progress. Stronger, rehabilitated muscles will help relieve pain, address alignment issues, and help prevent future injury. More than ever, athletic trainers, medical professionals and insurance companies want precise, objective measurement and documentation of baseline condition and progress during treatment, and controlled, adjustable resistance therapy.
The OWL patent-pending device will connect to a smartphone app that records key measurements at baseline, and trends over time. The device will provide adjustable, uniform resistance and will be comfortable to use. Brad envisions a future where this device is standard equipment in all physical therapy, sports medicine and chiropractic clinics.
Innovator: Christian Severt
Organization: CuraCloud Corporation
Nominator: Ed Butler
Christian Severt is the Information Security leader at CuraCloud, a healthcare AI startup in Seattle. He is a former US military Information Technology expert and has worked in the healthcare field for the past 3 years. Soon after joining the CuraCloud team he led the project to provide a HIPAA-compliant method for receiving data from healthcare providers to be used to build and test our deep learning models. He led the selection process, chose a consulting firm to support the effort and then led the design effort for our “Clean Room” project. This resulted in a new capability that will be useful for operating a HIPAA “hybrid” model in which a very limited number of employees have access to Protected Health Information, but ensures that AI developers only use de-identified data. The Clean Room project provides a way for healthcare providers with whom CuraCloud has a Business Associate Agreement to upload encrypted data and provides audit trails through the data cleansing process. After de-identification the data may be used for IRB-approved research projects without risk of loss of privacy. This innovation addresses one of the fundamental blockers in developing deep learning models by providing an effective way to protect patent privacy.
David Atkins, PhD
Innovator: David Atkins, PhD
Nominator: Reza Hosseini Ghomi
David Atkins, PhD. has been faculty and professor at University of Washington (UW) for over 10 years now and currently co-directs the Behavioral Research in Engineering and Technology (BRiTE) Center within the department of psychiatry at UW. Dave has been able to do something that few faculty members can. He has been able to successfully transfer his academic research into a new and successful company. Dave is a trained psychologist and has had interest in combining technology with psychology throughout his career.
Collaborating with leaders in the natural language processing field from University of Southern California and The University of Utah, Dave was able to create a system, which would automatically listen to therapy in real time, transcribe and diarize the session, and provide feedback to the therapist. The first iteration has been validated for motivational interviewing and is being used in substance use clinics and psychology training programs in several states now. His company, Lyssn.io has signed several contracts now and continues to grow. Dave has taken a technology that provides a major advance in using powerful voice technology and is putting it to use in a highly impactful way.
Kerry M. Curran
Innovator: Kerry M. Curran
Organization: Lung Technologies
Nominator: Shana Curran
Kerry M. Curran teamed with the graduate mechanical engineering class at Seattle University to design, develop, test and prototype a revolutionary medical device for testing inhalation capacity called the VaLena 5000 Therapeutic Incentive Spirometer. Kerry and his team were able to have a completed working prototype completed in just 9 months. This prototype was so well conceived, engineered and thoroughly tested that they were able to prepare a FDA 510K pre-market approval to submit to the FDA. They also applied for function and design patents.
Class II medical devices typically take years to develop and test, yet Kerry and his team did it in an incredible 9 months. This new Therapeutic Incentive Spirometer offers a user interface for the pulmonologist to be able to exactly gauge patient use and progress or more importantly, lack of progress. The pulmonologist can now change/alter care based on the accurate and factual data from the spirometer.
Lynn McGrath, MD
Innovator: Lynn McGrath, MD
Organization: UW Department of Neurosurgery/ PupilScreen
Nominator: Rajeev Sen
In developing PupilScreen, Lynn has done a phenomenal job identifying a gap in the capability of front-line providers to diagnose and triage traumatic brain injury both in the US and globally and addressing it with an accessible, affordable solution. The magnitude of the problem cannot be overstated as the inability of first responders to accurately diagnose traumatic brain injury leads to a 25% excess mortality in these patients in the United States alone. This number is significantly higher in low resource countries around the world, where TBI is the leading cause of premature death.
While working a grueling schedule as a neurosurgery resident, Lynn managed to reach out and collaborate with Professor Shwetak Patel of the UW Computer Science department to create an inexpensive, easy to use app for the iPhone that replaces technology that was previously $8,000 and out of reach for all but the most sophisticated hospitals in the US. The app has generated nation-wide press coverage and is being currently being tested in the US and in a pilot study in Thailand to assess its use in the developing world. The project is a model for how UW can foster teamwork between clinicians and academic to achieve profound results with the potential to positively impact millions of lives in the US and abroad.
Mahesh Mulumudi, MD
Innovator: Mahesh Mulumudi, MD
Organization: Steth IO
Nominator: Vikram Chalana
Dr. Mahesh Mulumudi has invented Steth IO , an Artificial Intelligence-enabled smartphone stethoscope. The stethoscope is embedded into the case of a smartphone and machine learning is integrated into the technology to provide the output. With this, his team at Steth IO has created the “shazam for heart and lung sounds” — enabling automatic interpretation of these sounds to help physicians better diagnose health issues. This technology is bringing the ancient stethoscope into the 21st century, giving physicians improved confidence in listening to heart and lung sounds for early diagnosis.
While working as a full-time interventional cardiologist, Dr. Mulumudi worked relentlessly to build and test this technology. After a few iterations, Steth IO was approved in 2017 by the FDA as a class-2 medical device. The device was also granted three utility patents and three design patents in the US and seven other countries. In 2018, the Steth IO team launched the product to market.
Innovator: Maitreyee Joshi
Nominator: Neel Mehta
Maitreyee’s Health Tech journey began when she almost went blind in high school. She discovered how few products there were to help people with medical conditions such as blindness, and made it her goal to develop medical technology. After learning from Accessibility Technology Specialists at the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center that independent indoor navigation is one of the toughest challenges that the blind face, Maitreyee set about trying to solve that problem. This led her to founding her first startup, BlindWalk, which built an iOS app to help the blind navigate through buildings 85% faster.
Since then, Maitreyee has continually gone above and beyond in creating innovative solutions to help the disabled and cancer patients. She developed a tactile feedback system that enables amputees to feel tactile sensations through their prosthetic arms. She wrote a machine learning algorithm to detect DNA mutations that cause a particularly malignant cancerous brain tumor called Glioblastoma multiforme. Maitreyee’s latest project has been the most ambitious and innovative of all; she has been using computer vision and retinal prostheses to restore functional sight to the blind. There are almost 40 million blind individuals worldwide, a staggering 75% of whom are unemployed, causing an estimated global economic burden of approximately $3 trillion. Thus, Maitreyee calculated that the impact of curing blindness would have enormous quality of life, economic, and social implications.
While Maitreyee’s research in restoring functional sight to the blind is ongoing, her efforts in using computer vision and retinal prostheses to restore functional sight the blind has the potential to radically change the lives for the blind in the future.
Innovator: Michele Mehl
Nominator: Jill Angelo
Michele has re-imagined how people can get the benefits of recumbent cycling no matter their disability or location. Her Excy device is a convenient recumbent cycling device that has proven beneficial for PT-patients struggling with injuries or disabilities at birth. She’s tenacious in her drive to bring this new technology to patients everywhere by partnering with physical therapists and other physical training centers focused on her target consumer. Her drive and innovation are inspiring!
Innovator: Peter Harris
Organization: Longevity Surgical, Inc.
Nominator: Peter Harris
Peter Harris designed a unique surgery approach for obesity known as laparoscopic gastric plication (LGP), plus a unique enabling surgical tool, LapProx™. All current existing surgeries (“band”, “bypass”, “sleeve”, etc.) are designed to be delivered from centers of excellence, because they have high risk to the patient, high failure rate, high cost, and need high surgeon skill, making them inaccessible to the majority of obesity/ T2D suffers, who are not high income or logistically accessible. LapProx will improve surgeon time from up to 152 minutes of difficult, stressful suturing to an easy, one-handed 20-25 min. An estimated 3,000 cases done by hand surgery, mostly outside of US.
LGP/LapProx is designed to be safe, simple for the surgeon, low cost for self-pay, so can be done at local centers by moderately skilled surgeons. Studies have found LGP to be suitable for outpatient delivery instead of 2-3 days in hospital. In one review of 11 studies of LGP surgery, weight loss is found to be “comparable to sleeve gastrectomy”, with reoperations much lower at only 3% and conversion at 0.2%. In one T2D study, 92% of LGP patients went into remission compared to another study showing only 42% and 37% for band and sleeve patients respectively. LGP/LapProx is the only surgery that is low cost (self-pay), quick, easy, simple and safe enough to be offered for T2D by primary intent, with concomitant obesity reduction by secondary intent.
Innovator: Ran Baror
Organization: Gulp Baby
Nominator: Marc Miller
Ran Baror is the entrepreneur behind Gulp Baby. Based on his family’s own difficulty with their baby’s breast feeding, he brought together a team that has created a very imaginative clinically validated digital, Machine Learning enhanced, solution to improve breast feeding results beginning in the hospital and continuing through a baby’s discharge home. Despite having multiple health benefits, 60% of mothers give up on breast feeding efforts before they intended to. In addition, breast feeding issues account for 11% of postpartum emergency department visits. Ran’s imagination has fueled a scalable, cost effective approach that combines a wearable, artificial intelligence, pro-active targeted lactation counseling to increase mother and child satisfaction, health status, and more efficient use of scarce healthcare resources for those entities at financial risk.
In use today, building a trusting relationship early on, Gulp Baby envisions a future of additional user friendly, affordable beneficial services and information for new parents and their health care providers.
Shawn Iadonato, PhD
Innovator: Shawn Iadonato, PhD
Nominator: Craig Phillips
In 2018, Dr. Shawn Iadonato lead his research team at Kineta in developing and partnering a potential lifesaving advance for the management of chronic pain. Each day in the US 50 people die from opioid overdose, this is a major health crisis with an enormous economic and societal impact on our country. Dr. Iadonato and his team have developed a non-opioid alternative to managing chronic pain thereby providing effective pain control with a safe and nonaddictive alternative. This novel drug target is not expressed in the central nervous system; this leads to a safer therapy with no centrally mediated toxicities. Unlike other chronic pain therapies, Kineta’s α9α10 nAChR antagonists are non-addictive and non-tolerizing.
In the first half of 2018, Dr. Iadonato and his team successfully partnered the chronic pain program with Genentech/Roche one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the world. Kineta’s scientists – co lead by Eric Tarcha and Jose Mercado – located in South Lake Union in Seattle, will continue to drive the scientific advance of this exciting new technology. This new drug could replace opioids, thereby eliminating tens or even hundreds of thousands of overdoses each year.
Innovator: Sundar Balasubramanian
Nominator: David Cooper
As a co-founder of Xealth, Sundar was instrumental in creating and scaling a product that has the potential to impact Hundreds of millions of people – and save healthcare systems over $1 million annually. Xealth makes it easier for providers to prescribe digital health solutions and integrate them into their workflow and patients to easily access these materials.
Sundar spearheaded the innovation to allow providers to recommend non-durable medical goods to patients using Amazon. Rather than saying “Get some prenatal vitamins,” and then leaving the patient to figure out which ones to choose, doctors can now give patients one click access to the ones they’d prefer. This is the first time Amazon has been integrated with a health system and a unique use of its APIs to help improve patient choice. Sundar continues to be an unsung leader in health innovation here in Seattle in spite of the great strides he’s making for the field.
Innovator: Beth Kolko
Organization: Shift Labs
Nominator: Brad Youngren
Beth has been working away at solving a medical device problem in the global health space. The DripAssist creates a new modality for monitoring IV infusions in environments where pumps are not financially feasible. This problem was two-fold, prototype & build, and then figuring out how to distribute a product that is most beneficial to healthcare delivery systems that are likely the most financially constrained. She has persevered through building the product, securing funding and support through Y-Combinator, and then has embarked on a 6-year mission to develop a completely new market segment. She continues to innovate on the platform, winning awards in the global space. Slow, but persistent growth has allowed the company to have the product added into infusion textbooks as a new category of device.
Further innovations are on the horizon that have the purpose of increasing safe medication delivery around the world. Beth’s tenacity and perseverance are impressive in a very tough market. Through demonstrated projects in Haiti and Africa, it is clear the impact this device can have in hospitals around the world.
Brian Ross, MD, PhD
Innovator: Brian Ross, MD, PhD
Organization: Format Health/UW Medicine
Nominators: Phillip Wong and Graham Kim
Brian Ross MD, PhD is Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Format Health, a digital health company based on technology he developed at the University of Washington Medical Center, “RevivePro”. Dr. Ross has been persevering for YEARS working to improve the cardiac arrest resuscitation process. Many years ago, as an anesthesiologist at the University of Washington Medical Center, he developed a cardiac arrest resuscitation documentation and guidance system. Throughout the years, he has been improving the system, and the system was commercialized two years ago, and Format Health was founded. Especially in the last two years, as the Chief Medical Officer of Format Health, he has persevered through the thick and thin of digital health entrepreneurship, and it is finally being used in emergency departments and ICUs in hospitals across the country!
His pursuit for constant innovation, and fearlessness in disrupting the status quo is driven by his true passion for the well-being of the patients. His drive, thoughtfulness, and ability to overcome challenges is infectious and inspires those around him to join him on his quest. Dr. Ross, his achievements, and his impact on countless lives, is truly the finest example of perseverance in a health innovator.
Michael Domingo, DPT
Innovator: Michael Domingo, DPT
Organization: GO PT
Nominator: Shivani Patel
Michael started his physical therapy practice 4 years ago as a small home-health practice. Home health came with lots of challenges as he would have to carry his treatment table up flights of stairs or would spend time circling his patient’s neighborhoods simply looking for a parking spot. While he was very interested in the idea of home-health services, it simply wasn’t allowing him the space or equipment to give his patients the high-quality care they deserved. He moved on to rent a room from a gym that gave him access to equipment and space, but came with its own obstacles. The gym just wasn’t set up to welcome patients recovering from injuries so after more than a year of trying to renovate the gym space, decided it was time to look for a place of his own to tailor the environment for patient comfort.
Two years ago, he purchased a physical therapy practice in much need of TLC and he had just the right touch for it. That practice started with only two therapists and now has grown to 7 physical therapists, offering care in the same model that was important to Michael even during his humble beginnings. He never got discouraged after having to switch locations multiple times and he looks at every challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow. He is the definition of perseverance in healthcare!
Innovator: Neal Sofian
Nominator: Ron Cornell
Neal Sofian is a public health guy, an innovator, and funny. He has lots of mantras that are his guiding stars in his work. The one he uses the most is, “It ain’t dog food if the dog don’t eat it.” For the past 35 years Neal has explored innovative ways to use technology to extend the reach and impact of health behavior change; getting lots more dogs eating. This has required creating solutions that can simultaneously scale and remain highly personal.
In 1986 telephone behavior change coaching didn’t exist. Neal took the research and translated it into Free & Clear, currently called Quit for Life with 3.5 million participants, now the largest smoking cessation program in the U.S. They were able to replicate this for arthritis, aging, and end of life care and support, reaching millions of users. Ultimately NewSof was sold to Resolution Health which was acquired by Anthem Blue Cross. While at Premera Blue Cross, in partnership with Guiding Stars, Edenred, and Wellness Layers, Neal created Serve It Up!, an online and mobile site focused on helping out members and the general community eat healthier and save a few bucks in the process.
Yet, perhaps he has saved the best for last. There are literally over a 100,000 applications and services available in the health space. However, not enough people are using them. The real problem is engagement itself. So, at 65, Neal became the CEO of a startup company, tuzag, whose purpose is to dramatically increase the optimal use of care, products and services through a conversational AI concierge that helps people maximize their health and well-being. Neal represents what we need in this field, a willingness to explore the boundaries of healthcare and the persistence to translate crazy ideas into realities that change millions of lives
Innovator: Torben Nielsen
Organization: Premera Blue Cross
Nominator: Patti Brooke
Torben has been committed to improving the patient journey through health care since 2006 by introducing and championing digital tools and doorways where they did not exist previously.
Torben joined Premera in 2017 after five years at Portland-based HealthSparq, the $25M startup Torben co-founded in 2012. Under his leadership, it grew to number 196 on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing U.S. companies in 2016. Prior to HealthSparq, Torben oversaw digital solutions at the Regence Group (now Cambia Health Solutions) where he was instrumental in successfully launching first-in-nation plan capabilities of price transparency and patient reviews of providers to members.
Torben has been a long-time champion of corporate innovation on behalf of the patient. Now he’s focused on expanding customer experience innovations at Premera Blue Cross by working closely with internal and external stakeholders. In his role as VP of Innovation and Strategic Investments, he has convinced the organization to introduce enterprise-wide crowdsourcing challenges and co-design efforts with technology start-ups. Additionally, he has been the advocate of the patient experience in Premera’s new offering, Peak Care, the result of a new partnership between Premera and MultiCare.
Torben’s persistence and creative thinking enable him to advocate piloting new technologies, learning and iterating. There are a number of pilot projects underway out of the Premera Test Kitchen, under Torben, with the goal to learn what will work in making health care work better for everyone.