closeup lab tech with sample of Wuhan Coronavirus virus

Silicon Slopes is becoming a hotbed for the med-tech field, with companies combining innovative solutions with a commitment to improving the community in today's turbulent times. 

Silicon Slopes continues to attract some of the best and brightest from around the country and proves that Utah is a hotbed for attracting Healthcare Technology companies and technology innovators.

Three companies are PathologyWatch, a digital dermatopathology technology company improving the availability of accurate diagnostics; Cortex Health Inc., a platform that enables post-acute providers to improve the patient outcomes; and SolutionReach, which announced its use of AI technology last year to increase telehealth access for patients.

Westward ‘flow’

These three companies are part of the fascinating exodus to the new mountainous mecca for innovative technologies. Utah’s tech companies provide employment for one out of seven jobs, generate more than $2.5 billion in state and local tax money each year, and have a total annual economic impact of $30 billion.

As a company whose focus is to provide specialized care within communities that may currently lack specialized diagnoses and treatment plans, Dan Lambert, the CEO of PathologyWatch, relocated to Salt Lake City from New York. With two successful prior multi-million dollar startup exits, one in Silicon Valley and one in New York City, the decision to move PathologyWatch to Utah was simple.

“I think Utah has now been through several generations of tech success — first with the WordPerfect group, then Novell, and more recently with Omniture/Adobe,” said Lambert. “This means that there are several generations of entrepreneurs, sufficient capital, and enough talent in the valley to really build a company here. We have been lucky to find great software developers, even in machine learning and artificial intelligence.”

In a 2019 study published by Cambia Grove, researchers found that “the healthcare innovation sub-sector is an important and meaningful part of the overall healthcare economy.” Collected data showed a five-year job growth rate is exceeding 20 percent in digital health, health IT, life sciences, and innovative services. “Utah continues to demonstrate strong recognition that innovation in healthcare is fundamental to the well-being of its citizens and economy,” the report said.

PathologyWatch, Cortex Healthcare, and SolutionReach are harnessing the exciting possibilities of innovative technology to better serve the healthcare ecosystem.

PathologyWatch: An emerging solution for rural patient care

PathologyWatch is emerging as the groundbreaking leader of intuitive, easy-to-implement digital dermatopathology solutions that can speed the diagnostic process while reducing costs to clinics and enhancing patient care. Coincidentally, based on CDC statistics, Utah leads the nation in skin cancer cases, and this venture-backed startup is positioned to greatly improve the quality and speed of cancer diagnostics.

PathologyWatch has developed an efficient workflow that reduces time from examination to diagnosis by 40% with higher-quality reads, leading to better patient care. This innovation in digital pathology brings never-before-available access to laboratory work in rural areas. With this technology, what typically takes two weeks to receive a diagnosis now takes 1-2 days through the efficient workflow that PathologyWatch has developed.

“Deep learning and automated diagnostics will greatly improve our diagnostic accuracy as physicians,” said Greg Osmond, an MD, chief medical officer, and a Provo native. “Cases like melanoma can be difficult for some physicians to detect and diagnose under a microscope. Computers, working alongside humans, can greatly improve outcomes for all patients.”

PathologyWatch differentiates itself from competitors by offering fully interfaced EMR (electronic medical records) reporting and 24/7 access to digital slides. Clients also have access to top dermatopathologists and the option to interpret and bill for their cases. PathologyWatch is further distinct by its primary focus on outpatient clinics. PathologyWatch recently announced series A funding to speed adoption of digital dermatopathology solutions.

Cortex Health: A strategic solution for improving patient support

What originally started as a business that handled post-discharge calls to patients has evolved into a full-featured software platform for post-acute providers. Launched in 2015 by tech and industrial design wizard Riley Adamson, the focus of Cortex Health is to provide a powerful user experience and positive healthcare outcomes.

Just recently, in the wake of COVID-19, Cortex Health responded to the needs of its community by launching a COVID-19 Command Center. Based in Lehi, Cortex is assisting over 200 healthcare providers around the country to prevent, track and contain COVID-19 with real-time updates on patients recovering at home or a facility.

“At Cortex, we have hundreds of RNs make thousands of followup phone calls to recovering patients each day in over 25 states,” posted Adamson. “We’ve adapted our tools to address COVID-19 — and have capacity to help many more patients.”

Locally, Cortex is helping fellow Utahns to be tested by managing the support hotline for TestUtah.com. Also, Cortex is providing the University of Utah with a crisis dashboard that acts as a central hub of COVID-19 information and patient coordination.

SolutionReach: Places patient care solutions within reach

In a survey of business, administrative and healthcare providers, 80 percent of respondents said AI technology is helping professionals to improve their revenue opportunities, and 81 percent attribute AI for making them more competitive providers.

Since 2000, SolutionReach has been a leader in patient relationship management software. In 2019, the company launched SR AI technology, which improves office efficiency, lowers costs and empowers patients with tools, such as 24/7 access to medical questions via SMS responses. Such technology has proven particularly timely during this COVID-19 crisis as patients can engage in constant communication and have easy access to providers through virtual appointments.

“We are applying technology that has been used successfully in other industries to improve customer experience and operational efficiency,” explained CEO and founder Jim Higgins. “And because we understand the challenges of healthcare, we can do it in a way that takes into consideration all those unique elements to help organizations balance the benefits of AI with the need for human interaction.”

Despite these uncertain times, the prospect of medical technology and health tech innovators joining the auspicious ranks with other tech world heavy hitters is this area is good. “Utah’s growing tech scene is a huge reason for this economic strength,” said Brett Derricott, entrepreneur and Utah Business contributor. “Here in the Silicon Slopes, we’re building a tech hub where work and life can truly be balanced, set against the beautiful backdrop of the Rocky Mountains and the Great Salt Lake.”

While the focus of each of these med-tech companies is different, PathologyWatch, Cortex, and SolutionReach all combine innovative solutions with a commitment to improving the community in today’s turbulent times. That is a winning combination for today’s tech companies.

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