Arizona is becoming an incubation chamber for medical technology innovation, and several businesses stand out from the fold.
AZ Big Media’s AZ Business Magazine recently published its picks for Health Care Leaders of the Year for 2019, chosen by the magazine’s editorial board.
Chamber Business News spoke with representatives from three rising stars that made the list for health care Delivery Methods.
James Bates moved to Arizona in 2012, where he ran a $700 million business for Freescale Semiconductor, a Texas-based corporation that was later acquired by NXP Semiconductors.
After the acquisition, Bates was looking for a new opportunity — a friend suggested investing in a chain of urgent care centers in the Valley.
“I knew absolutely nothing about urgent care,” Bates recalled. “Digging into the financial analysis, I quickly came to the conclusion that running a medical practice is very tough business.”
Urgent care centers see high fixed costs — providers, facilities, equipment and regulatory requirements are all expensive.
Bates almost gave up on the investment opportunity, but then he had an idea: What if you take the autonomous technology in self-driving vehicles today and use it to automate the intake and administration for urgent care centers?
“We make the doctor still responsible, but we automate everything around the doctor,” Bates said. “We built that financial model with the tech implemented, and it actually reduced the cost of running the clinic by over 70 percent. It was so dramatic that I figured I had no choice but to found the company.”
Bates filed 12 patents and founded the “world’s first fully-automated medical visit.”
“It fundamentally revolutionizes health care,” said Bates, who serves as CEO of AdviNOW Medical. “This invention alone saves Medicare, it enables access for every single person on the planet, and this is how you resolve the disaster of health care that we have in this country as well as the world — this technology.”
One of the greatest costs in health care today is the fact that people are using the hospital emergency room for their primary care, he said.
“Ultimately, what happens is that people who are on Medicare or Medicaid end up using the most expensive point of care, which is the emergency room, for things that they shouldn’t,” Bates said. “When you look at that scenario, the reality is the emergency room is not convenient. No one wants to use the emergency room, but they don’t really know how, or they don’t have access to a simpler and lower-cost point of care.”
The other problem is that people often forget or neglect to manage medications properly when treating chronic conditions. Patients need a follow-up system to help them help themselves, Bates said.
“You need to have primary care service that is cheap; you need to have nurse call centers which are cheap and plentiful,” he said. “Both of those things don’t exist today; it’s impossible for that to happen. What AdviNOW Medical does is it actually allows existing doctors to see three- to four-times more patients per day than they see today.”
At the same time, patient compliance — making sure patients follow through with their treatment plans — is all managed through AdviNOW Medical’s Virtual Provider Assistant, Hannah, which completely automates the clinical visit within regulatory guidelines using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR).
“AdviNOW Medical does all of the triage with the AI; they do all of the follow-up with the AI; they do all of the documentation for the doctor with the AI,” Bates explained. “Because they’re only making decisions now — just like the driver only has to watch the road and touch the steering wheel in their Tesla every 30 seconds — similarly, a doctor just has to confirm what the AI is suggesting on the diagnosis, confirm what the AI is suggesting on the treatment plan, and then press, ‘I agree.’”
Now, doctors can see more patients, and patients receive follow-up, data collection and compliance, almost for free, he said.
The AI handles four main components: the intake, or introductory paperwork; dynamic patient data collection, including History of Present Illness (HPI), using the AI; patient measurement collection using AR; and documentation for the doctor, also known as SOAP (subjective, objective, assessment and plan) notes.
“Ultimately, there is no data entry at all for the provider, and there’s no data collection at all for the provider,” Bates said. “All of that is done, and the provider just reviews and says, ‘I agree,’ relays that information to the patient to make sure they’re compliant with the FDA regulatory environment that we have today.”
AdviNOW Medical currently operates 11 clinics at Safeway grocery stores in the Valley, with a contract to open 600 more in Safeway stores. The company also has two Valley locations with providers on-site, three out-of-state clinics and contracts to open 400 more locations nationwide.
“We’re really excited,” Bates said. “It’s a long road to get there, but hopefully we’ll have another billion-dollar company here in Arizona. Right now, that’s where it’s leading.”
“Someone asked me, ‘What gets you motivated to get out of bed to come to this job?’ and I said, ‘There’s really three things,’” Will Misloski said. “One, I love to build things. I love working in startups, and I love innovating. But the third thing… is I’m actually in an industry that makes a difference in people’s lives, to their benefit.”
Misloski is chief marketing officer at SpotRx, a “next-gen pharmacy solution” that makes consulting pharmacists and picking up prescriptions and over-the counter drugs quick and convenient for consumers.
SpotRx operates fully-automated pharmacy kiosks placed at strategic locations in the community to give residents the best access possible to pharmacy services. The company recently signed a contract with Green Valley Recreation in southern Arizona to place its kiosks in three of its member centers.
“The idea was, how do we ensure that we’re able to give patients 24/7 access to prescription drugs?” Misloski recalled. “Based on everything I’ve heard and the research we’ve done, patients and consumers want to be able to have 24/7 access. And that’s not always the case with pharmacies; they’re not able to do that.”
SpotRx, a subsidiary of MedAvail Technologies, launched in the third quarter of 2018 as a direct-to-consumer brand with two brick-and-mortar pharmacy locations — one in Phoenix, one in Tucson — and about 18 pharmaceutical vending machines currently operating in Arizona.
“This year is a big scaling year for us, and we’re looking to expand probably about three- to four-times from where we are today by the end of this year, in terms of what I call ‘kiosk dusting’ — getting kiosks in key locations to our target audiences,” Misloski said.
SpotRx also offers home delivery, because the ultimate goal of the brand is to give consumers more choices, following the model of services like Netflix and Uber, he said.
“What they’ve done is they’ve put control into consumers’ hands; we’re trying to do the same thing,” Misloski said. “It all comes down to putting it in their hands and giving patients access to their medication when and where they want it.”
Another aspect of the technology that has arisen with regards to access is rural health care — while a big-box pharmacy company like Walgreens or CVS might not see the value in opening a full-service location in rural areas, a SpotRx kiosk could easily be added to an existing store in remote locations.
“We’re trying to figure out what’s the best way to insert ourselves in locations that are more rural, that it seems more part [of the] customer’s life, because that’s really [the question] — How do we insert ourselves into a daily part of someone’s life?” Misloski said.
Misloski said his favorite part about working for SpotRx is helping provide a service that helps people.
“Look at our team that we’re building in Arizona,” he said. “The people we’re hiring — this is what’s driving them. They’re seeing the difference it’s making in people’s lives and helping them stay adherent to their medicine, and it’s been a cool thing.”
Catalytic Health Partners
Founded by Susan Cordts, who now serves as CEO, Catalytic Health Partners is an integrated health care delivery solution of social, behavioral and physical medicine designed for patients with more complex needs.
“We utilize a model of people, technology and data to achieve our goals, believing strongly that there is nothing to be accomplished until our team and the member we are managing have formed an engaged relationship,” Cordts said. “Thereafter technology and data can be used to further our effectiveness and give us objective insights on our performance.”
Catalytic Health Partners gives each of its members internet-connected tablets with telemedicine, telemonitoring, medication reminders, electronically-populated medical records and an educational portal.
“The results of our work speak for themselves as we have dramatically improved social, behavioral and physical health outcomes as well as dramatically decreased costs for our populations,” Cordts said.
The tablets and telemonitoring devices Catalytic Health Partners provides to its members offer 24/7 access to a live team member at the company, so members can reach out at any time — from anywhere, Cordts said.
“Irrespective of where one lives, they have access to a provider who knows about them and can readily meet their needs, overcoming many of the barriers of being more rural,” she said. “Additionally, our support team provides them concierge services to coordinate their care and ensure that all the dots are connected to make their care more efficient and effective.”
Cordts said she is proud of her team and “ecstatic” to see their work recognized for the differences they are making in members’ lives.
“We are proving that one can greatly improve outcomes, improve member satisfaction, decrease costs with a highly satisfied team with our model,” she said. “I hope to transform the delivery of health care to one of accountability for outcomes in a more holistic approach, considering social, behavioral and physical medicine needs without forgetting the importance of the human touch.”