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Improving Quality of Diagnostic Data

Improving Quality of Diagnostic Data

Dr. Carolyn Compton, a panelist at the upcoming 2016 Health Connect South event September 21, took time out to join me on the show to talk about the need for improving the quality of data we get through diagnostic testing through better control of how specimens are gathered, handled, and stored.

She shared an example of how a specimen, collected knowing it was positive for tumor cells, can be made to return a “Negative” result for cancer if the specimen is not handled properly once it’s been collected.   She will be talking about how many factors can affect the validity and thus, value, of given tests if there exists a wide range of variance across the pre-diagnostic phase of test gathering.

A pathologist by profession, Dr. Comptom is very familiar with how significant the impact can be if diagnostic testing is unreliable due to practices that could be prevented.  Insuring that we are making decisions using the best, highest quality data available, means we need to look for any areas where variability creates what in essence is data artifact.

Arizona State University ranked by US News and World Report as the most innovative university in the
country and is the #1 producer of Fulbright scholars. Mayo Clinic is ranked by US News and World Report
as the best hospital in the US. NBDA is a 501C3 dedicated to collaboratively developing and implementing the cross­cutting standards needed to re­engineer the biomarker development process and increase its success rate, a critical issue and limiting factor for the implementation of precision medicine.

Special Guest:

Dr. Carolyn Compton, MD

Professor Arizona State University and Mayo Clinic




Satvinder “Pearly” Dhingra


We sat down with Satvinder “Pearly” Dhingra, founder of  HealthePeople is a platform where patients can aggregate their health information from a variety of sources, from wearable fitness devices to medical records, and have them available in a single portal.  The users can opt to make their de-identified information available to clinical trials to support their work if they choose.

More info soon!

Satvinder “Pearly” Dhingra, Founder,


Austin Clinical Research Professionals

Austin Clinical Research Professionals

Dana Austin talks clinical trials

Austin Clinical Research Professionals

On this week’s episode I sat down with the founder and CEO of Austin Clinical Research Professionals, Dana Austin.  This company provides clinical technologists and researchers to conduct or support clinical trials.  With a background in cardiology nursing, Dana and her team have particular expertise in studies around hypertension and diabetes, both of which are significant risk factors for heart disease.

Austin Clinical Research Professionals also offers certified CEU training to meet credentialing needs of existing research scientists and staff.  Additionally, Dana is certified to serve as a monitor for clinical trials to provide oversight and feedback to sponsors as well as being qualified to sit on ethics committees for studies.

Dana shared how individuals in the community can participate in available studies to get access to care that might not otherwise be available.  We talked about some studies she had been able to be a part of that ultimately resulted in helpful medications being made available to the public.

Special Guest:

Dana Austin, CEO/Founder of Austin Clinical Research Professionals  linkedin_small1  facebook_logo_small3

Austin Clinical Research Professionals

  • MSA, International Development, Andrews University
  • BSN, Emory School of Nursing
  • Certified Clinical Research Professional, Society of Clinical Research Associates
  • Previous Senior Clinical Team Leader, PPD

KSU BrainLab

KSU BrainLab

Steve Krontz talks KSU BrainLab

KSU BrainLab

On this week’s episode we sat down with Steve Krontz, Director of Innovation at the KSU BrainLab, located in the Coles College of Business.  They’re doing some remarkable work, using brain activity studies to analyze how individuals react to a logo, or a flavor, or a host of business-related stimuli.  Additionally, Steve and his team have been developing technology that will enable thought-to-text and thought-to-command capabilities.

This means they will be able to empower individuals who have neurologic problems that inhibit muscular control/activity such that they are rendered unable to speak or communicate.  With this soon-available technology, persons dealing with such problems will be able to interact with their environment and their caregivers.

Steve explained how the KSU BrainLab at Coles College of Business partners with businesses small and large to help them answer important questions that help them be more effective in their work.  The college is actively seeking companies who are looking to address important questions with their help.

The KSU BrainLab at Coles College of Business website describes their work this way, “Part science lab and part technology incubator, at the BrainLab we work to align computer technology with the human neurological system. Through our research we create meaningful applications for brain-computer interfaces by studying how users respond to and control brain-based devices.”

It is rewarding to help bring awareness to innovative initiatives like the KSU BrainLab at Coles College of Business.  I was surprised to learn that, as Steve explained, the ability to use thought to communicate as well as to interact with our environment is potentially less than 10 years away.  Such technology could clearly have an extensive impact on a wide range of healthcare patients as well as business.

Special Guest:

Steve Krontz, Director Innovation,  KSU BrainLab, Coles College of Business  twitter_logo_small  linkedin_small1  facebook_logo_small3  youtube-logo1

KSU BrainLab

  • BBA, Marketing, Kennesaw State University, Michael J. Coles College of Business
  • Founder, Krontz Media LLC
  • Executive Director/Solutions Architect, Big Eyed Fish Creative Consulting


Intent Solutions and NFANT Labs

healthcare technology

Lou Malice, Sam Zamarippa, Jay Shaffer, Tommy Cunningham

Intent Solutions and NFANT Labs

We sat down with experts from two Atlanta area health technology companies, Intent Solutions and NFANT Labs.  Joining us in studio were Lou Malice, Sam Zamarippa, and Tommy Cunningham.  Intent Solutions is a start-up that is developing a device aimed at improving compliance with prescribed medication regimens, as well as helping to improve likelihood the intended person has access to the medicine.

In its early phase of development, Intent Solutions has positioned itself to be an effective tool for pharmaceutical research studies.  In these studies, it is vital that participants adhere to the prescribed medication regimen in order to obtain the most effective and accurate test results.

The Intent Solutions device has a secure chamber that contains the pills for the particular prescription.  Called “TAD” (standing for “take as directed”), the device utilizes fingerprint technology to identify the user before dispensing medication.  Additionally, the TAD device is able to connect with the patient’s mobile device (and the prescribing entity) to share updates on efforts to access medication by unauthorized users, whether medication was dispensed, and it can send the patient reminders, prompting them to take their medication.

In this way, the TAD device facilitates medication research by improving compliance with the schedule the medication was intended to be taken on.

NFANT Labs has developed a device that uses sensors that can give a care giver visual feedback on a monitor regarding a NICU baby’s sucking patterns while feeding, a task that for many premies is challenging.  Until now, the only way a practitioner could assess the sucking strength and patterns was to literally use a finger in the infant’s mouth.

The difficulty these young babies face is often related to a weak tongue, ineffective tongue movements, and uncoordinated swallowing timing.  This predisposes them to consuming inadequate calories as well as creating the risk for aspiration pneumonia, both of which can lead to additional length of stay and even mortality.

The NFANT Labs monitor fits between the nipple and the bottle used to feed the child.  It has a sensor that detects the up and down motion of the tongue, as well as negative pressure being generated by the suckling infant.  It converts the data to wave forms on a monitor that the care giver can follow, allowing them to slow or pause feeding to allow the child to “catch up” with dispensed milk or to re-position them them to assess whether it leads to a more effective sucking pattern.

Special Guests:

Lou Malice, CEO of Intent Solutions and NFANT Labs

Intent Solutions

Sam Zamarippa, VP of Strategy and Business Development, Intent Solutions

Intent Solutions

Tommy Cunningham, Co-founder of NFANT Labs


Center for Health Transformation

Center for Health Transformation

Steve Fraime of WellStar’s Center for Health Transformation

Center for Health Transformation

I hosted Steve Fraime, Director of WellStar’s Center for Health Transformation on this episode.  WellStar is rather unique in its investment in an internal center for health innovation—that’s a department typically seen at academic medical centers.  The WellStar health system engages with their providers to uncover ideas for opportunities to innovate that will improve patient outcomes and patient experience, as well as ideas that will improve work environment for the system.

Steve explained how the Center for Health Transformation initially got its start as a think tank designed to pull together leaders from 20 health systems to identify best practices and facilitate innovation among them.  As the initiative got going, it became evident that often, participants were reticent to share information that was perceived to give a particular organization some measure of market advantage.

Ultimately, WellStar decided they would pull the concept within their borders to focus on internal innovations that will improve their overall performance.  From there, the organization worked to regularly interface with physicians within the system, along with folks in leadership roles to get suggestions for processes that could be improved upon.

Steve talked about two projects that were suggested by providers.  One project that was brought by orthopedic surgeons was to explore the possibility of developing a more reliable means of producing a cast for fractured extremities.  Another was to address the challenge for patients to navigate the large, multi-site, multi-building campuses that constitute the WellStar health system.

The Center for Health Innovation chose to collaborate with the Georgia Tech Capstone project.

Special Guest:

Steve Fraime, BSN, Director of WellStar Center for Health Transformation  linkedin_small1  youtube-logo1  google-plus-logo-red-265px

WellStar Center for Health Innovation

  • Previous Assistant Manager, Emergency & Trauma Services, WellStar Paulding
  • MBA, Georgia State University J Mack Robinson School of Business
  • Masters of Healthcare Administration, Georgia State University
  • BSN, Georgia State University

Innovative Health Technology

innovative health technologies

Bailey Ernstes, Jake Kazlow, and Jim Sullivan talk innovative health technologies

Innovative Health Technology

On this episode of Health Connect South Radio we featured two Atlanta companies developing innovative health technology.  We hosted Monitor Med Solutions and HealPros to learn about the respective problems their solutions solve.

Monitor Med Solutions was founded by several Georgia Tech students to create a device that would use bluetooth technology to give hydrocephalus patients real-time monitoring data regarding their intracranial pressure via their mobile devices.  Bailey Ernstes and Jake Kazlow, two of the co-founders, joined us to talk about their project.

As Bailey shared, as many as 1:500 babies are born with hydrocephalus, an abnormally-high intracranial pressure caused by a disruption in the normal flow of cerebral spinal fluid.  These patients require that a shunt be implanted that will facilitate modulation of the intracranial pressure and prevent the numerous neurological problems and even death that can occur when pressure rises or falls beyond certain limits.

The challenge for these patients and their families is that the shunt technology itself has not evolved much since its inception.  And, the shunts fail at a rate of roughly 40% of the time, typically due to occlusion.  In most cases, the only way the patients discover there is a problem is when they begin to show symptoms of increased pressure.

Monitor Med Solutions, an Atlanta-based start-up has developed a device that interfaces with the intracranial shunt and contains a bluetooth transmitter.  This enables the user to get pressure readings via an app on their mobile device, potentially allowing them to seek care before neurologic symptoms occur and/or preventing unnecessary ER admissions to seek care.

Jim Sullivan is CEO of HealPros.  This company saw a need for closing the gap in preventive care for patients with diabetes.  The diabetic population is at risk for blindness due to retinal damage that is caused by chronically-elevated glucose levels.  It can take years of asymptomatic progression of the retinal damage for visual changes to occur.  Because of this, many patients do not bother to seek out the recommended annual exams that could identify problematic changes early enough to do something about it.

HealPros utilizes teleimaging capabilities coupled with on-site technologists who can do exams in a physician’s office or even a patient’s home.  The company partners with health plans and physician offices to coordinate visits with patients and conduct the necessary eye exam.

They then communicate results to patient, doctor, and health plan company and can help facilitate getting access to appropriate advanced care if an abnormality is found.

Special Guests

Bailey Ernstes, CEO of Monitor Med Solutions  linkedin_small1  facebook_logo_small3  twitter_logo_small

Monitor Med Solutions

  • BS Biomedical/Medical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • National Merit Scholar
  • Campoamor Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient
  • Previous Research Assistant, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Jake Kaslow, Co-founder and CTO of Monitor Med Solutions  linkedin_small1

monitor med solutions

  •  BS Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

Jim Sullivan, CEO of HealPros  linkedin_small1


  • BA, MA, Economics & Finance, State University of New York at Binghamton
  • Business Professionals Course, Linguistics and Business Philosophy, The Aji Network
  • Former Analyst, Goldman Sachs
  • Previous Owner, Medical Imaging Specialists

Fighting Infections


Debora Carrier, Michael Hellerstein, Jay Schafer

Fighting Infections

This week we hosted two experts whose companies are fighting infections from different directions.  Michael Hellerstein is the Director of Regulatory Affairs and Quality Systems for GeoVax.  They’re a biotechnology company that’s developing vaccines for Ebola and HIV.

Debora Carrier combined her experience as a fashion model and a healthcare provider to think of a better-looking scrub uniform that is both better looking and resistant to spreading infections.  She founded Twice As Nice Uniforms to give health workers and physicians a more visually appealing choice while at the same time helping reduce the alarming rate of infections acquired in health delivery environments.

Michael talked about how GeoVax has been fighting infections through innovative approaches to vaccine development, utilizing vaccine-like particles to tackle HIV and more recently, Ebola.  He shared how prevalent HIV remains today and that more work is being focused on treating the disease versus developing vaccines to prevent it.

He shared how technology has evolved that allows biotech companies to identify genetic components to viruses, which enables them to incorporate pieces of this material and instill it into a harmless organism.  Then, as the organism reproduces, it produces a copy of itself that has some characteristics of the pathogen the vaccine is designed to fight.  This “recombinant” vaccine doesn’t make the body sick but it does prompt an immune response from the body against the pathogenic virus, providing protection against infection.

GeoVax is able to create particles that are safer to use than vaccines that contain live pathogen, allowing people who may have some immune compromise to get some protection as well in some cases.

The company has used this technology to get a vaccine that is showing some promise for preventing HIV infection.  Michael talked about how the clinical trials are progressing and how long it takes to get a vaccine approved for use in people versus the time it takes to develop a medication to treat disease.

Debora talked about her story as a healthcare provider for over 20 years led her to think of a scrub design that looks much better than the bulky, wrinkle-prone scrubs the health community has been using for decades.  She talked about how frequently the environment is very cool, prompting workers to wear long sleeves and/or jackets while delivering care.

We discussed how long sleeves prevent washing the lower arms as is recommended and how the fabric can readily carry bacteria and viral material from one patient to another.  Debora investigated various athletic materials that can help regulate body temperature in various climes, while at the same time possessing antimicrobial properties.

Twice As Nice Uniforms utilize an American-made material that controls moisture and uses a scrub design that incorporates a removable liner that allows the worker to be comfortable when the rooms are very cool.

In looking at the design of the garments, it’s clear she brought her experience in modeling to bear in the style/cut of the uniforms they’re creating.

Special Guests:

Debora Carrier, CEO/Founder of Twice As Nice Uniforms

Twice As Nice Uniforms

  • AS, Dental Hygiene, William Rainey Harper College
  • Professional Fashion Model
  • Registered Dental Hygienist
  • Founder, CPR Sisters

Michael Hellerstein, Director of Regulatory Affairs and Quality Systems


  • AB, Biology, Harvard University
  • Previous Assistant Scientist, Pfizer
  • Co-Founder, BlueSky Biotech
  • President, Hellerstein Consulting

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This week, Diana and I sat down with Dr. Brad Bowman and Nickey Scarborough, of Healthgrades.  They’re a healthcare IT company that provides several valuable services to the community at large as well as to the healthcare industry.  One of Healthgrades’ core offerings relates to transparency and healthcare consumerism.  When you need to find a physician to address a particular health need from primary care to a specialist, the company’s website allows the patient and/or their family to conduct a search of their database.

The Healthgrades platform utilizes a number of available data sources to compile a match score that gives a measure of confidence a particular physician has sufficient experience and positive outcomes to be considered as a viable option for providing your care.  You can search by provider name, specialty, condition, or procedure, along with location/radius.

Your results will give a list of possible providers, each with a rank for volume of this given procedure they’ve performed, along with a report of any sanctions or board actions that have been taken.  Similarly, Healthgrades provides prospective patients with access to outcomes and patient satisfaction data across the gamut of service lines and procedures they offer.  Patients can review a given hospital’s rank and compare it to the national average for that procedure.

But, these useful services are only scratching the surface for what Healthgrades is able to do for health systems and hospitals.  The company is able to use a wide array of readily-available health and consumer data for patients in a given service area to give valuable predictive insights around outcomes for a given health problem.  Things such as number of rooms in your home, whether it’s rented or mortgaged, how financially stable a family is, along with buying habits combined with numerous other data points can give surprisingly accurate pictures of what a given population’s tendency toward ER re-admissions or poor outcomes/compliance with care.

Through an engagement with Healthgrades, using their population analytics, a health system can be very strategic in their marketing efforts to help make that revenue spend be far more likely to help the system achieve its goals and deliver a higher level of care/outcomes.

Special Guests:

Brad Bowman, MD, Chief Medical Officer, of Healthgrades twitter_logo_small  linkedin_small1  Pinterest LOGO  google-plus-logo-red-265px  facebook_logo_small3


Nickey Scarborough, VP of Digital Editorial, Healthgrades  linkedin_small1



  • MHA, Health Administration, Xavier University
  • Former Director, Client Delivery Services, WebMD
  • Previous Content Director, PERFECT SENSE digital, LLC
  • Former Senior Consultant, Deloitte & Touche

This show brought to you by:

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Hospital Acquired Conditions


Hospital Acquired Conditions

According to CDC, there were over 700,000 hospital acquired conditions in 2011 (in this case, infections).  When you add those numbers to other preventable situations such as falls, wrong drug/dose/patient, and others, it’s clear that hospitals can be potentially-dangerous places.  This week, Diana and I sat down with two experts from companies that are tackling this problem from different directions.

HanGenix, an Atlanta-based start-up is developing an innovative technology that employs ultrasound transmitters/receivers on soap dispensers, on the clinicians’ badges, and in the patients’ rooms with the goal of increasing compliance with hand-washing standards.  CEO, Jeff Kline, talked about how each patient bed is “guarded” by an ultrasonic receiver that communicates with the clinician’s badge and soap dispenser in the room or nearby.

The system starts a clock that will alert the health worker that they need to re-wash their hands if too much time elapses between washing their hands and touching the patient.  The bed’s zone receiver also prompts an audible alert on the worker’s badge if they approach the patient’s bed without having registered a hand-washing event detected by the system.

Early returns from health systems that are participating in the testing of the prototype have shown that hand washing compliance is as low as 40% before implementing the technology and rises rapidly once it is deployed.  This is significant, as hand-washing has been identified as one of the most effective means to prevent spread of infections from patient-to-patient in a healthcare environment.

Synensis’s Chief Innovation Officer, Rick Stone, joined the conversation to talk about how their company works with their healthcare clients to assess the organization’s internal culture relating to behaviors that reduce hospital acquired conditions such as falls, infections, and other sentinel events.  Through an in-depth assessment at the outset of their engagement, Synensis’s team formulates a picture of how an organization prioritizes policies/procedures that can reduce/prevent those sentinel events.

The company then begins to interface with all levels of leadership and front-line providers to raise awareness and put in place actions such as debriefings after untoward events occur so that better team work can result.  Synensis also helps hospitals identify areas of their organization that have particularly low rates of sentinel events to draw from their localized culture/approach to prevention to the betterment of the organization as a whole.  As Rick stated, “Hospitals have teams of experts.  But, few have expert teams,” pointing out that in many industries, healthcare included, poor communication and/or teamwork is the primary culprit in accidents.

Special Guests:

Jeff Kline, CEO/Co-founder, HanGenix  linkedin_small1  twitter_logo_small



  • MBA, Goizueta Business School, Emory University
  • Previous Manager, Deloitte Consulting
  • Former Director of Marketing, BARD Urology Division
  • Previous VP Marketing, Genesis Biosciences

Rick Stone, Chief Innovation Officer, Synensis  twitter_logo_small  linkedin_small1  facebook_logo_small3  youtube-logo1


  • MS Clinical Psychology, Vanderbilt University
  • Former President, StoryWork Institute
  • Previous StoryAnalytics Master, IDEAS
  • Fluent in Spanish

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