Entrepreneur spotlight: Tracy Simpson’s Clinicpass app manages Sunshine Law red tape

simpson headshotFayetteville native Tracy Simpson started her journey in founding Clinicpass in 2014, after 16 years in the pharmaceutical industry. The Affordable Care Act included the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which went into effect in 2013. It was designed to disclose any financial relationship a doctor had with a manufacturer. It required medical product manufacturers to disclose to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “transfers of value” made to physicians. Such gifts would have occurred frequently and invisibly in the past. Now payments or transfers of value have to be reported to the CMS by the giver, and are available and searchable in the Open Payments database. The American Medical Association now recommends that providers keep their own records of money spent on them to comply with the Sunshine Act.

Such reporting generates bothersome red tape for manufacturers, and Simpson thought there was a solution for the problem that could benefit both manufacturers and physicians. Clinicpass not only facilitates pharmaceutical rep reporting, but also allows medical providers to verify the accuracy of the records and to prepare to respond to possible questions from the public.

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The Clinicpass platform also functions as a scheduling tool for physician meetings with product reps, who in times past simply waited in medical offices until a doctor could make time to see them.  During Simpson’s career, she observed as regulation and reporting requirements for doctors drastically eroded the amount of time physicians had to interact with reps. Clinicpass provides structure and a record of who has called on a practice and when. Simpson believes the platform will ultimately accrue benefit to the patient, as easier scheduling keeps clinic doors open to insure that reliable information and patient assistance programs are conveniently moved into the hands of doctors.

Simpson and business partner Padgett Mangan beta-tested the tool for a year and a half in a Memphis-based medical management group, while four hundred pharmaceutical representatives used the site. Clinicpass was one of five finalists for the Delta Regional Authority Delta Challenge Sept. 13. Simpson will be traveling to New Orleans in November for Entrepreneur Week 2017.

Simpson was the Harding chapter of the Sigma Nu Tau Entrepreneurship Honor Society’s 2016 distinguished honoree. Her best advice for entrepreneurs looking to solve problems with an app-based solution? “The best advice I can give is to test your idea,” Simpson said, “and surround yourself with positive people. My biggest hurdles turned out to be my biggest blessings.”

 

Entrepreneur spotlight: Cariloop “Because no one should go through the process of caring for loved ones alone.”

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On the hallway where the Waldron Center is located, five of us are caregivers for loved ones. We make phone calls and fax documents between classes, run out at lunch to take care of business items that can’t wait, and take days off to assist with transportation to doctor appointments or during emergencies.

Being a caregiver can be a frustrating, exhausting life, periodically consumed with searching for appropriate services with limited time. Sometimes the need for critical services arises abruptly, creating immense pressure to make decisions quickly. Estimates are that 26.1 million full-time employees in the United States are caregivers for a loved one. The average caregiver-employee misses 350 hours of work a year due to the responsibilities of caregiving, and protracted caregiving frequently has negative implications for the wellness of the caregiver.

What if companies could help valued employees more easily honor commitments to their loved ones while maintaining more of their productivity and sanity during this stressful season of their lives? The “why” statement Cariloop staff recite in their weekly meeting says, “No one should go through the process of caring for their loved ones alone.”

Dallas-based Cariloop is a digital health company that provides the world’s first fully-integrated, tech-enabled caregiver support platform to help working caregivers and families plan for and manage the care of a loved one.  The Waldron Center staff first met Cariloop co-founder and CEO Michael Walsh, and Jeryn Laengrich, Cariloop CSO, on a recent visit to campus. I had lost my 91 year-old father two weeks earlier, and immediately related to the problems the company’s business model addresses.

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CEO Walsh said, “One out of every five people in the workplace today is a caregiver, and most people are Googling their way through it.” Originally Cariloop was like an “Open Table” for finding available nursing home and assisted living beds.  The second iteration became more a dynamic decision tree, walking caregivers through a series of steps where they could match caregivers with needed services. Finally, they realized people needed not just a platform, but a user experience where a caregiver and family can video chat with a certified healthcare coach who understands what customers are going through. Cariloop retooled its business model when data indicated the majority of users were accessing its website between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays, during work hours. They began to market the platform to companies as part of a benefits package.

 

 

Michael Walsh, Cariloop CEO, and Harding alum Jeryn Laengrich, CSO. Laengrich is Harding’s College of Allied Health Outstanding Alumnus of 2017. 

I was pleased to learn that Cariloop now also provides a secure space within its website for family members to upload important documents such as medication lists, power of attorney documents, advanced directives, insurance policies, and more. Family members always have them available for meetings, and can collaborate with one another in a secure space. As my father’s power of attorney and now the administrator of his estate, it has been my experience that having documentation archived would be a powerful tool for a caregiver who has to eventually shift gears settle a loved one’s estate.

The aging of the Baby Boom and increasing life expectancy is creating a “Silver Tsunami” that challenges our healthcare system, stresses our families, and places new demands on companies to manage and support employees who are losing focus and productivity due to the distraction of honorable caregiver concerns. As the first in the market to directly address those employer concerns, innovator Cariloop is well-positioned to grow as they continue to refine their service.

Update: CEO Michael Walsh was recently selected Longevity Network’s Entrepreneur of the week!

Entrepreneur spotlight: Nick Kennedy and Surf Air

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Nick Kennedy knows time is money, and air travel is stressful. And he’s a problem solver. If you consistently spend unproductive time in airport traffic and waiting to check in at busy terminals for the same short commercial hops, might an all-you-can-fly subscription membership interest you? What if it provided a private terminal where you could check in as little as 15 minutes before your flight on well-appointed, custom-designed executive aircraft? What if employees knew you by name, and concierge services were available? And what if all this were available at a fraction of the cost of flying private? Pure fantasy? Not anymore.

California disruptor Surf Air, sometimes called the “Netflix of private airlines,” provides unlimited flights between a menu of U.S. destinations for one monthly price, and Harding alumnus and Surf Air president Nick Kennedy was on campus this week to discuss life, his journey in business, and how their business model is helping customers reclaim hundreds of hours of wasted time.

Surf Air was founded in 2012.  Its genesis was in MuckerLab, a Los Angeles-based business incubator. Surf Air announced the sale of its 3,000th membership in June 2016. In June, Surf Air acquired RISE airlines, a Texas subscription service founded by serial entrepreneur Kennedy, increasing Surf Air’s subscriptions by about 25 percent and adding flights to and from six Texas destinations. This summer, the company expanded operations to Europe.

The energetic Kennedy (‘99) spoke at a lunch-and-learn info-session for a packed crowd of COBA students. He recalled his journey from San Diego to Searcy, “a foreign place,” on a last-minute baseball scholarship. His early time at Harding was not smooth sailing. There was a period of adjustment, “students here had gun racks in the backs of their trucks and I looked like a surfer,” during which he considered not returning. He met his future wife during his second semester, however, and stayed for the long haul. “My wife was a Zeta Rho president and Sprint Sing hostess for two years. I worked at Regions Bank in Walmart. She worked at the Dixie Cafe. Weekends were a 99 cent movie from Hastings and a $5.99 pizza special.”

Kennedy competed on the COBA business team. Accounting professor Dr. Phil Brown recalls those years, “Often students want to discuss their entrepreneurial ideas about how business processes could be done better. I tell them if they are serious enough to put their thoughts in writing, I’ll devote the time to help evaluate them. Nick was one of only a handful who would actually do that.”  

His career began at EDS, after which he helped found Galvanon, a startup that developed software for kiosks to expedite patient check in at hospitals–an early approach to what patient portals now accomplish. The venture later sold to NCR. A later innovation in healthcare informatics was startup eviti, an evidence-based, web-based oncology platform, recently named #1 Clinical Decision Support solution for 2016 by Black Book Market Research. eviti was later acquired by NantHealth.

Kennedy explained that being a little naive can actually benefit an entrepreneur with a novel idea, because “you don’t know what you can’t do.” He counseled future entrepreneurs to focus on ways to solve problems for people, and to always start with ‘why?’  His next venture was in another area in which he had no business familiarity, but much end-user experience. Kennedy was traveling thousands of miles per year, burning time in airports away from his family. “I was an American Airlines Platinum member with all the upgrades.” The “why” for his idea was to create a less frustrating, more efficient venue for frequent flyers.

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He did the research, and set out to solve the problem. The average private plane flies 300 hours per year. Buyers purchase planes for personal convenience, and often assume they will be able to recover part of the cost through charter fees. They rarely do. So Kennedy and some colleagues founded RISE, which employed unused capacity from private planes to create a subscription air travel service. RISE later sold to Surf Air.

Regarding integrating faith and business, Kennedy advised students not to attempt to hide their spirituality. Business is about solving problems, and “meeting the needs of people is an inherently spiritual process,” he told students, and works best when you love people and have their interests at heart.

 

Waldron Q & A

Name: Slader Marshall (BBA Finance, ’14)

Type of business: Restaurant

Business name: Slader’s Alaskan Dumpling Co. (SADCo.)

Year started: 2014

Locations:  Searcy/Little Rock, Arkansas

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It all started as a dream. “Not a lofty one, but one of those that you can’t really get out of your head,” according to Slader Marshall. Since the Alaskan entrepreneur was able to return home only once or twice a year after coming to study at Harding, he was determined to bring his home to college by sharing pel’meni, the Alaskan soul food dumplings from his childhood, with his adopted community.

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From their first dumpling in 2014 to today, the startup has expanded from a single restaurant in a modest building on East Center Avenue to a successful food truck business, operating in Searcy and Little Rock.

This week’s Q&A digs a little deeper into Marshall’s thoughts about being a young, hungry, scrappy entrepreneur.

What personality traits do you think served you best as you started your business, and which traits might have been a disadvantage?

Confidence could be answer to both. You have to have unwavering confidence to start a business because, without it, you can’t project to your employees and your customers why they should believe in your product. On the flip side, confidence can humble you quicker than most personality traits. I have said to anyone who asks what it’s like to start a business that you should go into the process like you know nothing at all. Finding a good balance between confidence and humility is a great place to start your business planning.

What advice would you give a college student who wants to become an entrepreneur?

First, ask questions: stupid questions, smart questions — it doesn’t matter. Pick people’s brains who have been there before, and admit you don’t have all the answers. Second, start small, build big. It’s a lot easier to start with a little idea and grow along with your customer base than it is to have all the nicest things and the best space and have nowhere to grow. Finally, find your niche. Whether it is the target market you cater to or the type product you sell, finding your niche is the single biggest predictor of business success or failure. We serve a non-traditional food, so I knew right off the bat that not everyone would like it. I knew in Searcy there was a void of local restaurants and also a void of places that were catering to college students, who I thought would be more willing to try eclectic foods compared to a family of four on a fixed budget. So I found my niche.

Name a company or person in business whom you admire and explain what appeals to you about them.

My two biggest inspirations have been Walt Disney and Elon Musk, men from two different generations and from two different fields, who tried to make the impossible a reality. For Disney, it was not the cartoons or the live-action films or theme parks, but the feeling you had when experiencing all those things; it was the “magic” Disney created out of nothing that no one will ever be able to replicate. Musk inspires the passion to dream. Whether it is electric cars or privatized flights to Mars, he set his sights on the stars and encouraged anyone in this field that you should never let anyone tell you no. Entrepreneurs are dreamers, and those are two of the biggest.

For updates, follow Slader’s Alaskan Dumpling Co. on Facebook.

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