Artificial intelligence a critical factor in improving healthcare, booming life sciences industry see more
HCA Healthcare and Google Cloud are partnering to use data analytics and artificial intelligence along with patient information in a move they say will transform health care delivery and improve outcomes.
It’s the latest step in the evolution of the fusion between health care and data.
Prisma Health recently announced a partnership with Siemens Healthineers. And the Medical University of South Carolina has been working with Siemens Healthineers for years as well as Microsoft.
Proponents say these arrangements benefit patients and providers alike. But they also raise concerns about the security of patient information.
“What they’re doing is harnessing the power of big data to drive informed change and informed decision making,” said Dr. Christine Carr, an emergency physician and senior clinical advisor with the South Carolina Hospital Association.
“Instead of a clinician on the floor saying, ‘I think this is the best way we should do our physician schedules or manage heart failure,’ we have so much data and analytic power now,” she told Integrated Media, publisher of Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly and Charleston Business Magazine. “It’s kind of like your iPhone, knowing where you’re going when you get in the car. We realize we have to get ahead of the disease.”
If a patient has shortness of breath, for example, providers can use data tools to predict if he has a pulmonary embolism without doing any testing, Carr said. And if he does, other tools can help determine whether he should be admitted to the hospital or sent home on medication, she said.
“The real power of using big data in health care is that it helps us deliver more efficient, high-quality care with fewer disparities,” adds Caroline Brown, chief of external affairs for MUSC and the Medical University Hospital Authority.
“There is tremendous value in marrying disparate data that lives in different places to transform the way we deliver care. There are huge benefits for patients for this data to come together,” she said. “We can practice in a more preventive way than a reactive way.”
But how accurate are these tools? Carr says they’re validated to a high degree of certainty so the clinician knows the risks.
“They are extremely accurate,” she said, adding that doctors are still the ones making the decisions.
“It delivers information but you as a human have to ultimately decide what to do,” she said. “And any unique person is a unique person. Sometimes, I just override it. And sometimes I’m right. There are still humans, for now, at the end.”
Another benefit of predictive analytics is lowering costs, Carr said.
For instance, by analyzing a patient’s information, a doctor may determine that she only needs a mammogram every three years instead of annually, she said. And it can predict the risk of hospital readmissions too, she added, “which is a big financial driver for hospitals.”
Carr speculates that all large health systems are getting into the predictive analytics space, adding that insurance companies have been using it for years to predict population health based on ZIP code, health history and socioeconomic factors.
Founded in 1968, Nashville-based HCA Healthcare is a for-profit system with some 2,000 care locations - including 186 hospitals - in 20 states and the United Kingdom.
Google Cloud, which “aims to accelerate companies’ digital transformation,” says it has business customers in more than 200 countries.
A spokesman for HCA said the company would have no comment beyond a press release and a Google spokeswoman did not return calls.
But in that release, HCA CEO Sam Hazen said that “next-generation care demands data science-informed decision support so we can more sharply focus on safe, efficient and effective patient care.”
And Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian said, “The cloud can be an accelerant for innovation in health, particularly in driving data interoperability, which is critical in streamlining operations and providing better quality of care to improve patient outcomes.”
Meanwhile, Adam Landau, vice president of marketing and corporate affairs for HCA’s South Atlantic Division, said in an email that it’s too early to know what the partnership will mean for its South Carolina hospitals - Colleton Medical Center in Walterboro, Grand Strand Medical Center in Myrtle Beach and Trident Health, which consists of Trident Medical Center in Charleston and Summerville Medical Center in Summerville.
“I can tell you that we’re proud to be a part of HCA Healthcare,” he said. “In combination with significant investments in mobility to support clinical care … this partnership accelerates the work of HCA Healthcare clinicians, data scientists and developers by providing highly scalable technology from Google Cloud.”
For example, he said, technology has been developed using predictive analytics that helps detect sepsis early, potentially saving lives. Another application uses clinical observations and ventilator-streamed data to reduce the length of stay for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and increase survival rates of Covid patients by 28 percent, he said.
Brown said that health care is behind other consumer-driven industries in delivering on 21st century data technology.
“One thing the … industry has been behind on is this whole consumer experience and digitalization of that over the last years,” she said. “Customers are expecting and demanding easier access to health care, they want to do so virtually from home, and in other formats that previously weren’t commonplace.”
MUSC is using data analytics to help identify gaps in care, to map workflow so the system is more efficient, and to reduce wait times for patients, among other things, she said.
A partnership with Medtronic uses more consistent monitoring technology in hospitalized patients to reduce the number of adverse respiratory events in patients prescribed opioids, she said. Another project aims to prevent hospitalizations by catching patients with heart failure and intervening earlier.
MUSC also worked with Microsoft using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to detect and address potentially deadly sepsis in hospitalized patients, she said.
Prisma said its 10-year partnership with Siemens will use AI to develop algorithms to help clinicians make more informed decisions, allowing for quicker and more precise diagnoses and treatment plans.
Some of the AI will be embedded in new imaging machines as software while other AI will be developed through the partnership. Siemens will also have health economists on site studying new technologies to see if they reduce health care costs.
But with a growing number of entities gaining access to patient information, just how secure are arrangements like these?
Nationwide, the number of health information data breaches affecting 500 or more people grew from 329 in 2016 to 648 in 2020, with hacking events growing from 78 to 230 and ransomware attacks soaring from 36 to 199 during that time frame, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Ransomware is a multibillion-dollar industry, said James Andrew Lewis, senior vice president and director of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
And hospitals make good targets because attackers are purely about the money and go after what will generate the most return, he added.
“You can hack a hospital and make $4 million or hack an individual and make $4,000,” he said. “These guys like bulk business. Not onesies or twosies.”
Most hospitals pay because it’s not worth the hassle, Lewis said.
Some have insurance to cover ransomware attacks. But most attackers hone in on what they think the target can afford and go for that at the hospitals that are easier to breach, he said. And if they think the hospital can pay $4 million, they’ll start out asking for $6 million, he said.
So moving to the cloud makes sense, Lewis said, because while it’s not impossible to hack, it is much more difficult and could be more secure. A lot depends on the terms of the contract, such as where the data will be stored and how it will limit the risk to privacy, he said.
Both Google and HCA say their arrangement will protect patient privacy and data by using “layers of security controls and processes” and complying with federal privacy requirements.
“The partnership is founded on strict guiding principles around privacy and security,” Landau said. “Our contract prohibits Google Cloud from the use of patient identifiable information.”
Brown said MUSC also only uses deidentified patient data for its projects. That means information like names and addresses are removed but relevant clinical data remain, subject to privacy guide rails, she said.
“Cybersecurity is a huge issue globally across all industries, and health care is no different,” she said. “Any arrangement … has to be done with utmost scrutiny to make sure patients are kept first, and commit to making sure they are protected.”
A lot of the push for these types of relationships comes from hospitals looking to solve complex health care problems on a large scale, said MUSC chief information security officer Aaron Heath.
Machine learning is helping to do that with the use of lots of data, he said, but when those two intersect, there has to be a mechanism to share the least amount of data necessary.
At the end of the day, he said, a hospital doesn’t need to put patient privacy on the hook to solve its problems.
“If we want to solve for sepsis in the hospital - detect it often and early and respond quickly - we don’t have to share patient data,” he said. “Hospitals are … only sharing the minimum amount of data to accomplish goals.”
Nonetheless, he said, it’s not without risk and hospitals need to have contracts with digital companies that prevent data from being used for any other purpose.
“There are a lot of controls we can take,” he said, “because it’s really important.”
Prisma Health said that protecting patient privacy is critical and that it has multiple systems and checks in place to safeguard it.
“As part of our Siemens Healthineers’ intelligent insights center, we will use de-identified, blinded patient data,” spokeswoman Sandy Dees said in a statement. “Under no circumstances will specific identifiers such as names, birth dates or addresses be used.”
When it comes to ransomware, hospitals are in a tough position because they can’t stop business for an attack, said Heath. MUSC has layers of defense designed to mitigate the ransomware threat so if one is breached, another kicks in, he said.
“You may not get hit by ransomware, but I can assure you your system is being targeted by phishing emails,” he said. “We are monitoring systems at all times to look for and flag potential phishing emails and get them out of our system because it’s such a common (and easy) avenue of attack. We have seen phishing emails come in to us intended to ultimately trigger an attack, but have caught them.”
A significant problem in dealing with ransomware is that most attacks come from outside the U.S. and there’s a lack of international law enforcement to allay it, Heath said.
“It’s a real challenge to stop this activity across the globe because it can be conducted from anywhere,” he said.
So MUSC invests “quite a bit” in new technology and the staff to support it, he said. And the system is constantly monitoring security and conducting training because cybercrime is a moving target that requires frequent adjustments, he said.
Still, Lewis said that ransomware “is not rocket science,” and that hospitals should be able to deal with it by backing up and encrypting data and spending more on IT to keep current.
“A big cloud provider makes you more secure. It’s their business,” he said. “Hospitals - their business is patient care, and (those) that invest proactively are better able to protect data.”
A federal health care cybersecurity task force established by HHS produced a report in 2017 that outlined ways to improve protection of health information, among them increasing the security and resilience of medical devices and health IT like electronic medical records; ensuring that the health care workforce prioritizes cybersecurity; and enhancing health care industry readiness through improved cybersecurity awareness and education.
“It’s sad we have to do this,” Lewis said. “But it’s the world we’re in and we have to pay more attention.”
Life sciences expands career opportunities for SC graduates see more
COVID caused pain and heartache and death across the world and here in the Lowcountry, but it also revealed some bright spots. One of those is the life sciences industry, which was responsible for diagnosing COVID, providing responses, and ultimately developing effective vaccines.
Coincidentally, the life sciences industry in South Carolina is itself on a growth spurt that was accelerated by the pandemic. The number of firms in the industry had doubled in the last four years, making it the fastest-growing industry sector in the state. The Darla Moore School of Business estimated its annual economic impact at $12 billion before the most recent spike.
Life sciences produce next-generation pharmaceuticals and vaccines; advanced medical devices, diagnostics, and testing; digital health; bioscience distribution; bio-agriculture and biomaterials; and biological solutions for advanced manufacturing.
Life sciences also encompass two areas of focus for the Lowcountry Graduate Center – advanced manufacturing and healthcare management. While the connection with healthcare is obvious, many people don’t realize that life science research and advanced manufacturing work symbiotically. Many life science innovations, like medical devices, require advanced manufacturing to produce, while life science innovations can power the process of advanced manufacturing itself.
Career Opportunities in Life Sciences
That means jobs, and not just for M.D.s and Ph.D.’s, but for technical college graduates and university biology and chemistry majors as well. The average life sciences position pays $79,000, according to the official state affiliate of the U.S. Biotechnology Innovation Organization, also referred to as SCBIO, the nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the life sciences industry in S.C. Because workforce development is the primary challenge facing the industry, SCBIO is engaged in an initiative to promote the industry as a career path for students, guidance counselors, and parents at the K-12 level and in two- and four-year college.
Indeed, SCBIO is in the process of developing an industry-advocated life sciences curriculum for technical colleges that can prepare graduates for jobs in the field. Courses would cover manufacturing processes; safety and technical protocols like measurements and ISO standards; soft skills required for all workplaces; and the connections between the various life science components and the life-saving innovations they support.
“We want to get to students even sooner so we’re partnering with organizations that are already in schools to add more of the ‘S’ in STEM,” said Erin Ford, interim CEO at SCBIO. “If someone takes a course at Trident Tech, they can get a job paying $50,000 or more with health insurance while working on a product that helps people live better lives.”
The vector of life science development is different depending on the area of the state, with the Lowcountry showing strength in biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing, says Ford.
Life Science Companies Need Space to Grow
Besides workforce development, the next big challenge constraining growth is space. Lab space at the new WestEdge development in downtown Charleston was fully subscribed when it opened and now developers are seeking new space. Clean labs are more complex and costly to retrofit and build than ordinary office or warehouse space.
Nonetheless, the firms keep coming – or starting – and the state has gotten behind the industry. As a critical step, it authorized and funded SCBIO as the state’s lead life sciences industry economic development organization.
Life science provides more than just more job growth: it provides diversification of an economy that 30 years ago relied heavily on a Navy base that packed up and left. Life sciences are more recession-resistant than automotive and aeronautics, two areas of manufacturing strength in the Lowcountry that respond to retail market demand. People never cease needing health innovations.
Recognizing that, the Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA) and South Carolina Research Authority have backed the industry. CRDA was the first development authority in the state to build map out a strategic plan to attract and retain life science businesses.
Headwinds for Life Sciences in South Carolina
Sam Konduros of KOR Medical, a clinical cannabis firm launched by the Charleston-based diagnostic and testing company Vikor Scientific, says South Carolina and SCBIO have created a business climate conducive to the industry, and the health care and advanced manufacturing infrastructure have added tailwinds to its development. Citing Vikor’s growth from 45 employees to 450 during COVID, he says recruiting a talented workforce has not been a significant challenge so far. He notes the usual Charleston quality-of-life benefits – weather, beaches, history, and food, in addition to the growing vibrancy of the industry – as recruiting tools have contributed to the success.
Ford and Konduros see possible headwinds elsewhere for the industry. Roadways and other transportation infrastructure could use improvement, and housing availability and affordability are statewide issues. For example, the state’s franchise tax, now eliminated by 36 states, penalizes early-stage companies successfully raising venture capital before going to market. In an industry that often spends millions to earn FDA approval prior to commercialization, the tax is a burden, they say.
Medical data company relocating headquarters in the Upstate, creating 10 new jobs see more
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Sync.MD, a medical data company, today announced plans to establish operations in Anderson County, creating 10 new jobs.
Founded in 2015, Sync.MD specializes in the mobile data storage of health and medical records. The company’s patented technology enables users to securely store complete and current health care records and update information on smartphones for seamless sharing of medical records with health care providers. Sync.MD helps solve the problem of connecting otherwise incompatible medical records systems, as well as meet the specific needs of veterans or those who require specialized care. Sync.MD’s innovative technology enables higher-quality coordination of care, which means better outcomes and reduced costs for patients.
Located in Anderson, South Carolina, Sync.MD’s new facility will increase the company’s capacity to meet growing demand.
Operations are expected to be online by fall 2021. Individuals interested in joining the Sync.MD team should email or call (864) 260-1061 for additional information.
"Sync.MD is excited to continue its growth with a relocation to Anderson County. We are incredibly grateful for the assistance of the South Carolina Department of Commerce and Anderson County officials throughout our site selection process, and we are looking forward to what we know will be a fruitful partnership going forward." -Sync.MD CEO Eugene Luskin
“We are thrilled to add Sync.MD to the South Carolina family. This announcement is great news for Anderson County, and we look forward to the great work this company will accomplish.” -Gov. Henry McMaster
“It’s always exciting to see a company choose South Carolina as their new home. We celebrate Sync.MD’s decision to invest and create new jobs in Anderson County and look forward to watching them grow in the future.” -Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt
"I am very excited for Sync.MD to establish operations in Anderson County. The jobs that are moving here are high-paying tech jobs, and more will be created in the future. When I first met with Sync.MD’s leadership years ago, I told them South Carolina has a great business environment, and that we would welcome the chance to help them grow. I am thrilled that Sync.MD will be providing services to our veterans and their customers around the world from right here in Anderson." -U.S. Congressman Jeff Duncan
“We are excited to welcome software company Sync.MD to Anderson County’s new soft-landing economic development space. Sync.MD exemplifies the type of innovative business we continually seek to attract to further diversify and support the local economy.” -Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn
“Sync.MD landing in the Upstate represents areas where the Upstate is poised for growth — life sciences, technology and market entry into a landing pad space. We look forward to seeing this innovative digital health solutions provider grow in our region.” -Upstate SC Alliance President & CEO John Lummus
FIVE FAST FACTS
- Sync.MD is establishing operations in Anderson County.
- The company is creating 10 new jobs.
- Sync.MD is a medical data company.
- Located in Anderson, S.C.
- Individuals interested in joining the Sync.MD team should email or call (864) 260-1061 for additional information.
Multi-year plan designed to help drive growth of industry across Palmetto State see more
SCBIO CEO Erin Ford only has to look at recent history to understand the opportunity in front of South Carolina life sciences.
Life sciences has a $12+ billion economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 700 firms involved and over 43,000 professionals employed in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental, and agricultural biotechnology products.
It represents a significant economic development focus for the state, with strong life science recruiting initiatives led by the South Carolina Department of Commerce and regional economic development teams – so much so that Governor McMaster recently issued an Executive Order to emphasize the industry in domestic and international recruiting efforts.
Now armed with the industry’s third multi-year Strategic Plan to build, advance, innovate and grow the industry, Ms. Ford sees an opportunity to “take South Carolina life sciences to an entirely new level” over the next handful of years, she said as SCBIO published the 2021-2022 Life Sciences Strategic Plan recently.
Ms. Ford is no stranger to leading the industry. Since taking over as interim CEO for the departed Sam Konduros just weeks ago, she has expanded emphasis on investor relations and existing industry support strategies, the spearheading of integrated marketing initiatives, implementation of the new SCBIO innovation platform, and a strong emphasis on economic development initiatives – from an industrywide presence at this week’s PGA Tournament at Kiawah to next month’s BIO Global conference and the Fall MEDICA event in Germany.
Guided by the new Strategic Plan, which spans 24 months and continues the vision of the last two editions, SCBIO and SC life sciences are clearly focused on doing “the right things to continue to build, advance, innovate and grow” the multifaceted industry.
SC Life Sciences 2021-2022 Strategic Plan is shaped by input from SCBIO’s Board of Directors and dozens of contributors from industry, higher education, economic development, government and supporting organizations and authored by the SCBIO team. The 70-page document includes detailed sections on the COVID Effect on the industry, 2020 Highlights, documentation of the breadth and depth of the Industry Segments in the state, Priority Initiatives, and specific Objectives, Plans and Budgets to advance life sciences.
A shorter summarized version is available to media and business leaders interested in learning more about the fastest-growing industry in South Carolina, as documented recently by Dr. Joseph Von Nessen, economist with the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. To request a copy, interested persons should email email@example.com.
South Carolina life sciences has seen a near-doubling of firms and 40% increase in life sciences’ direct employment since 2017 alone, which combine to make it the fastest growing industry sector in the state, according to recent data provided by Dr. Von Nessen, state research economist and a noted economic development expert. It also has companies in 42 of 46 counties – a far greater penetration than most major industries possess.
The 2021-2022 plan seeks to continue the growth strategies of the industry evident over the last four years during which Ms. Ford served as EVP/COO prior to assuming the interim role of CEO. During those four years, SCBIO has more than doubled membership and quadrupled revenues, implemented a strong economic development focus, and launched a new innovation platform. It expanded its role as the voice of the life sciences industry, implemented a surging workforce development initiative and created ongoing programs to encourage participation by women in life sciences, to support diversity-equity-inclusion initiatives and to encourage student participation in the industry. The organization also successfully led industry and organizational pivots during the COVID pandemic.
“Prior SC life sciences plans have performed admirably in helping South Carolina raise its profile as an emerging leader in the life sciences,” said Ms. Ford. “Our innovative companies and exceptional workforce are drivers in strengthening this industry, and we know that the life sciences will continue to play a critically important role in our state’s economic success. We intend to build on our Board’s and team’s vision to continue this momentum and to build, advance and grow life sciences in our state.”
South Carolina life sciences is booming, with new organizations growing and moving here see more
Comprised of 650 life sciences firms, with wages nearly double state averages and an annual economic impact over $12 billion, South Carolina life sciences employs 43,000 professionals in research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotech and products. It’s a powerful force in today’s Palmetto State economy.
The fastest growing segment of the state’s innovation economy, life sciences shows no signs of slowing — despite a global pandemic that has advanced public awareness of the vital sector.
Life sciences’ 6 major segments include pharmaceuticals/biotech (including such state organizations as Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Thorne and Thermo Fisher Scientific), medical devices/medtech (Abbott, Arthrex and AVX), Health IT/digital health (ChartSpan), research-testing-diagnostics-labs (Greenwood Genetics Center, Precision Genetics and Vikor Scientific), bioscience distribution (SoftBox Systems), and Bio-Ag. Every sector is well-represented across South Carolina, with life sciences active in at least 43 of our 46 counties.
What makes the industry even more compelling is that it averages triple the R&D spend of all other industries and is highly recession resistant due to its connectivity with healthcare. An $8 trillion annual global healthcare spend is supported by a $1.5 trillion global life sciences industry – with the United States responsible for almost half of the world’s innovations.
To help the Palmetto State become a significant player in life sciences, SCBIO was refocused 3 years ago – with economic development as the focal point. Providing support for existing industry, working with economic development organizations to recruit global life sciences companies, and developing strategies to grow our own companies has had a seismic impact on SCBIO and its stakeholders — and ushered in a new era ripe with opportunity.
Aligning with the SC Department of Commerce in 2017 helped SCBIO to triple revenue in 3 years, more than quintuple membership, develop a full-time multi-disciplinary team, and cultivate an extraordinary board of directors from industry, academia, healthcare, core service providers, and economic development partners.
SCBIO has become a catalyst for and voice of South Carolina life sciences. From offices in Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston, SCBIO represents companies in the advanced medicines, medical devices, equipment, diagnostics, IT, and healthcare outcome industries. As the official state affiliate of BIO, PhRMA and AdvaMed, SCBIO members and allies include hundreds of academic institutions, biotech companies, medtech companies, entrepreneurial organizations, service providers, thought leaders, economic development organizations and related groups.
Working with allies and partners, SCBIO created the state’s first ever SC Life Sciences Strategic Plan – now in its third iteration — to build a nationally competitive and sustainable ecosystem focused on building, advancing, innovating and growing the industry.
And innovation is the lifeblood of progress. For the state to become an innovation destination for life sciences, the effort requires relentless pursuit – of talent, of transformational ideas, of organizations bringing operations and R&D to our state, and of an enhanced ecosystem that supports existing industry while growing our own companies.
Life sciences innovation has a rich legacy in South Carolina, drawing on the notable talents and creativity of the research universities of Clemson, University of South Carolina, and MUSC… a Top 25 national health system in Prisma Health… plus South Carolina Research Authority, Greenwood Genetics Center and others whose ground-breaking work has earned South Carolina a deserved reputation as a life sciences up-and-comer.
From pioneering medical grade electrolytic capacitors that made thoracic implantable defibrillators possible at St. Jude Medical (now Abbott)… to the recent invention and introduction by MUSC, ZIAN and Rhythmlink of a novel safety electrode that has the potential to reduce needle sticks in surgical settings around the globe, South Carolina life sciences innovation is on the move.
Even facing a global pandemic, SC’s life science companies are on the front lines and performing at a high level. Entrepreneurs and academic institutions have deftly shifted focus or pivoted production to address needs resulting from the crisis. Providing everything from COVID-19 PCR test kits to antibody tests, from respiratory therapies to face shields, and from developing specialty garments for frontline workers to being selected to conduct Phase III vaccine trials in the hunt for a COVID cure, South Carolina is now a part of the global solution team.
A prime example is Columbia’s ZVerse, a digital manufacturer. Seeing desperate need for protective shields for healthcare workers, the early-stage company quickly pivoted to become one of America’s largest manufacturers of reusable face shields. ZVerse then devised a new, proprietary shield that is more comfortable to wear over long periods of time. Sales have soared.
The booming ecosystem includes technology incubators and accelerators across the state, providing entrepreneurs with guidance and opportunity to collaborate with peers. A recent SCRA initiative—the creation of the South Carolina Business Incubator Association — is an important step in helping organizations share best practices and stimulate innovation.
Along with Southeastern partners Global Center for Medical Innovation and Health Connect South, SCBIO is championing a unique innovation partnership: The Southeast HealthTech Collaboration. Leveraging complementary strengths, resources and networks, the group will identify pressing health needs in our region without requiring major new investment in infrastructure or capital.
Now a finalist for a major grant in the EDA 2020 Build to Scale Venture Challenge, the Southeast HealthTech Collaboration will launch a three-year program to:
- Convene healthcare leaders to identify top healthcare challenges and innovators working on technology-based solutions to address them;
- Accelerate best solutions through development and into commercialization; and
- Scale startups and networks to drive investment and job creation across South Carolina and Georgia.
With a focus on minority and underserved populations, the initiative will accelerate development and commercialization of technological solutions to address unmet clinical and health needs, leading to scaling of startup growth and a sustainable economic engine.
As American poet Robert Frost penned:
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
Despite miles to go, there is plentiful evidence that our state is “punching above our weight class”, given our relative size and resources. With innovation blossoming and a surging passion for improving prosperity, the promise of South Carolina and its future has never been brighter.
South Carolina Life Sciences Conference to Feature J&J Innovation Leader Michal Preminger, Over 40 National SpeakersSCBIO 2019 Conference Draws Speakers, Takes Center Stage October 29-31 see more
Conference registrations soar with sell-out expected; CEOs and top industry leaders from 30 states and countries expected in Greenville for strategic partnership development, industry insights
SOUTH CAROLINA – September 11, 2019 – Johnson & Johnson Innovation Leader Michal Preminger will join more than 40 additional national speakers at SCBIO 2019 – the annual conference bringing top leaders and executives from life sciences organizations across the state and nation to South Carolina October 29-31.
Following an October 29 welcome reception showcasing downtown Greenville, Ms. Preminger will address an expected sold-out conference at the Hyatt Regency with a keynote presentation entitled “Innovation for a Better Tomorrow” as the main program gets underway the morning of October 30. Her presentation will be followed by a high-powered panel comprised of regional healthcare executives entitled “Optimizing the Future of Healthcare in SC and Beyond.”
Among other featured Conference programs are EY’s “NextWave Wellness: An Interactive View of the Future of Our Industry”, and an address by South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette entitled “South Carolina: Just Right for Life Sciences.” Clemson University President Jim Clements headlines Day 2 with an address entitled “The Power of Partnerships in Fueling Life Sciences”, while Medtronic global executive Christian Howell will address “Driving Value-Based Care Through Collaboration".
Scores of top industry chief executives, leaders in government and higher education, biotechnology and pharma executives, clinicians and researchers, and industry supporters from across America have already registered to attend SCBIO 2019, with registration nearly doubling the record-setting pace of 2018. Other committed speakers and panelists include IQVIA Institute of Health Data Science SVP Murray Aitken, Innova Therapeutics CEO and Founder Robert Ryan, ChartSpan CEO & Founder Jon-MIchial Carter, Firststring Research President Dr. Gautam Ghatnekar, Nephron Pharmaceuticals CEO Lou Kennedy, USC President (Ret.) Harris Pastides, PhRMA Senior Regional Director Thomas Hardaway and numerous others. More than 20 programs will be featured over two days.
Themed “Ignite The Future!”, the 2+ day conference draws attendees from across America for networking, innovation updates, opportunity discovery, partnership making and strategic discussion. Committed attendees include officials across a broad spectrum of life sciences industries including medical devices, bio manufacturing, drug discovery, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and testing, digital health and health IT, bio-ag and more. Space is limited and advance registration is still available at https://www.scbio.org/cpages/register-now-for-scbio-2019.
SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state. The industry has a $12 billion economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 670 firms directly involved and over 43,000 professionals employed directly or indirectly in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotechnology products.
SCBIO 2019 kicks off Tuesday evening October 29 with a Grand Opening Reception for conference registrants, speakers and sponsors at Greenville’s ONE Center, presented by Prisma Health. Wednesday will feature a complete day of sessions beginning at breakfast and continuing through an evening reception presented by the Greenville Area Development Corp., Greenwood Partnership Alliance and City of Greenville. The conference will conclude Thursday at lunchtime.
“Life sciences is a major driver of South Carolina’s economy, and this conference’s growth is testament to the industry’s surging impact, reach and rapidly rising economic significance in our state and region,” noted SCBIO President and CEO Sam Konduros. “Already accounting for thousands of highly-skilled jobs in the Palmetto State, this sector has tremendous growth potential, and we’re excited to showcase the top companies, research universities and leaders from across our state and country at SCBIO 2019.”
Among leading biotech and med-tech industry brands participating in the conference are Nephron Pharmaceutical, BIO, Johnson & Johnson, AVX, PhRMA, Medpoint, AdvaMed, Poly-Med, VWR, Ritedose Corporation, Rhythmlink, SoftBox Systems, ZEUS, Patheon Thermo Fisher and more. All of South Carolina’s research universities – MUSC, Clemson and the University of South Carolina – are represented, as are major healthcare systems, and economic development entities including the South Carolina Department of Commerce, SCRA, the Upstate SC Alliance, the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, Central Carolina Alliance, Economic Development Partnership and SiMT.
As the official state affiliate of BIO -- the world's largest trade association representing biotechnology organizations – along with PhRMA and AdvaMed, SCBIO members include academic institutions, biotech companies, entrepreneurial organizations, service providers, thought leaders, economic development organizations and related groups whose members are leading the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products that transform how we heal, fuel and feed the world. For additional information on SCBIO, visit www.SCBIO.org.
Greenville-based Health IT firm Chartspan lands $15 million in funding from BIP Capital see more
One of the Upstate’s biggest entrepreneurial success stories is ready to begin its next stage of growth, and with it, the expectation of 200 to 300 more jobs over the next 24 to 36 months, almost all of them in Greenville.
With a just-closed funding round of $15 million from a syndicate led by BIP Capital, an Atlanta-based venture capital firm, ChartSpan Medical Technologies is doubling its deployed capital, for a total of $30 million.
Now, new funding in hand, ChartSpan will spend “a majority” of it to embark on a national sales and marketing strategy designed to capture an even larger share of the chronic care management market, said co-founder and CEO Jon-Michial Carter.
Founded in Houston, Texas, ChartSpan chose Greenville for its headquarters in 2013 and soon emerged as the largest managed-service provider affiliated with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) chronic care management program. Currently, ChartSpan offers technology-enabled coordination of care to the patients of 106 health systems and medical practices, most of them in the Southeast.
Working from ChartSpan’s offices at 2 N. Main St., trained clinicians assist patients with such varied needs as contacting a nurse 24/7, refilling prescriptions, accessing medical test results, making appointments, and securing transportation, with clinical data exchanged between ChartSpan’s electronic records platform and those used by hospitals and physicians.
Nationally, ChartSpan is the market leader in the space with “the largest enrolled population in the country” served by about 200 employees, Carter said.
“Last month, there were 61 million Medicare and Medicare Advantage patients, and that is the audience that we serve,” said Carter. “CMS says 72% of them are eligible for the program we run … so 45 million available patients and we have just under 30,000 patients enrolled. So, it’s this blue ocean of opportunity.”
To capitalize on such a wide-open market, Carter sought to build on prior funding rounds in a way that would allow his company to reach mid-sized status rapidly.
Ultimately, Carter chose to partner with BIP Capital, a venture capital investment firm whose focus includes health care IT, enterprise software-as-a-service, and digital media.
Founded in 2007, the firm has invested more than $300 million since inception. Its CEO, Mark Buffington, has led investment rounds in more than 35 companies, with BIP Capital offering both funding and operational recommendations.
In a brief telephone interview, Buffington said South Carolina’s Upstate fits his firm’s focus on “second-tier innovation centers” in geographic areas “not nearly as competitive as a Boston market or a Bay Area.”
“We feel there’s just tons of uncovered opportunities,” Buffington said, citing venture partnerships in place in Minneapolis; Indianapolis; and Columbus, Ohio.
BIP Capital was attracted to ChartSpan in large part due to its early understanding of the chronic care management landscape, said Austin Poole, a senior associate.
“They’d figured out the complex parts of the process, where a lot of other groups that we had looked at were still kind of in that developmental phase, and some of them thought they might have had it figured out, but a closer look said that there might be more steps before they actually got there,” Poole said during a visit to Greenville.
The $15 million deal led by BIP includes syndicate partners Blue Heron Capital of Richmond, Virginia; Bailey Southwell & Co. of Nashville, Tennessee; and Croft & Bender of Atlanta. All four members of the syndicate hold preferred stock equity stakes in ChartSpan.
“Blue Heron is interesting because their entire LP [limited partnership] structure are just former health care executives that have run large enterprise companies,” Carter noted. “So, that was obvious, the attraction for us, and we spent time with them in Richmond, and again, loved the regional focus,” Carter said.
Poole, along with BIP Vice President Sarath Degala, will operate out of Greenville’s NEXT on Main incubator and will collaborate with Carter and other ChartSpan personnel on the company’s growth while also becoming familiar with other businesses in the region.
“We expect to hold office hours, take part in pitch events, mentor entrepreneurs and companies, provide guidance in strategies and funding alternatives as well as hopefully become engrained in the VC infrastructure in the community,” Degala said via email.
John Moore, president and CEO of NEXT, believes BIP Capital’s arrival in the Upstate represents a turning point in the evolution of funding for entrepreneurs.
“One of the biggest things obviously in any ecosystem is building access to capital. … We’ve been working on that for a long time, and to see something like this happen and see BIP’s leadership, first and foremost in the investment in ChartSpan, is tremendous,” Moore said.According to Moore and Carter, BIP’s deepening commitment to the Upstate will provide a flight path to growth funding for a variety of local firms that successfully launched with seed money.
VentureSouth, which now operates 12 angel groups across the Carolinas, provides much of that early stage funding, said Matt Dunbar, one of its three managing directors. The combined group, with 320 active investors, has deployed $36 million for 67 companies since 2008.
Using preliminary data, the Angel Capital Association, a national trade group, just placed VentureSouth among the top 10 angel groups in the country in terms of dollars invested, or $7 million in 22 companies during 2018.“Matt was a resource and in some ways a mentor for me early on,” Carter remarked. “All of these things in Houston, Texas, where we came from, we would’ve got lost and drowned. We wouldn’t have had this kind of support.”
Now, Carter’s company looks set to add significantly more clients, revenues, and jobs.
“Part of what was so compelling for us about ChartSpan as an investment was, not only does it bring efficiency to the whole U.S. health care system, but also the impact that it has on the patients,” said BIP’s Austin Poole.
“Any time you’re positively impacting the end-user in that magnitude, we get excited about that,” he said.