Three Michigan Ross Alumni and Business Leaders Innovating with Healthcare Technology to Combat COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an urgent need for new and adaptive methods of delivering healthcare. Ross School of Business alumni are among the leaders in the healthcare tech sector who are stepping up to the challenge.
Anurag Gupta, MBA ’09/BS '03/MD '09; Liron Torres, MBA ’10; and Mark Wien, BBA ’08, are among those using their innovative technologies to make a positive impact by giving nurses, physicians, and patients the tools and capabilities to combat the pandemic. And, in the process, they are revolutionizing traditional healthcare delivery.
Anurag Gupta, MBA ’09
Tembo Health provides senior care across various specialities including psychiatry, cardiology, neurology, and emergency medicine. The company partners with senior communities and leverages their existing systems to increase access to digital healthcare resources.
“It’s essentially a tech-enabled medical practice,” explained Gupta. “Through our electronic health record integrations, nurse communication portals, and family engagement tools, our telemedicine physicians have superior access to patient information, which allows them to work smarter and faster.”
As the pandemic has increased the need for urgent care, Tembo Health has been able to scale its operations to support thousands of new Medicare patients on its platform. The technology allows seniors to be safely treated by their healthcare providers without needing to leave their residence.
“For seniors, this is critical, as exposure to COVID-19 is a serious risk not only for the individual, but also for the rest of the senior community where they reside,” said Gupta. “In the interest of our patients and partner senior communities, we launched a 24/7 emergency medicine platform within one month in early 2020.”
Gupta has used much of what he learned at Michigan Ross and its powerful network to help him launch Tembo Health. In fact, his co-founder and chief operating officer is his MBA sectionmate Tanya Perkins, MBA ’09.
“The Michigan Ross MBA prepared me with the practical tools to execute business principles from operations to marketing to strategy. Moreover, the alumni network has been tremendous over the years,” said Gupta. “Launching a startup is incredibly hard and tests me in new ways daily. Being able to lean on advisors, colleagues, teammates — many of whom I met in Ann Arbor — for support has helped us overcome challenges and accelerate.”
Liron Torres, MBA ’10
Torres is the Director and General Manager of Alexa Smart Properties at Amazon. In her role, she founded and built the Alexa Smart Properties team, which has launched products such as Alexa for Hospitality and Alexa for Residential, and is responsible for Alexa experiences out of the home in places like hotels, senior living facilities and more.
Due to the pandemic, Torres said there is a new demand for Alexa and voice technology in senior living facilities and hospitals.
“Using our B2B service we were able to safely install Echo devices in senior living facilities across the country so that Alexa could answer questions, connect a resident to other residents in the facility, and offer information about what is happening on the property,” said Liron. “Residents were able to understand the latest on COVID-19 restrictions, connect with their families, and make requests to staff if they needed help.”
Since nurses and hospital staff are at risk of infection every time they go into a COVID-19 patient’s room, the Alexa technology could be used to limit exposure to the virus by being able to connect with patients remotely.
Torres shared the positive feedback that she has been receiving about the Alexa technology.
“My proudest moment with Alexa amidst the pandemic has been hearing from nurses in hospitals that they feel more protected because Alexa is helping them connect with their patients in a safer way. We created an emergency solution with our Echo show devices that allows hospital staff to drop in on a COVID-19 patient’s room and check on them remotely to limit their potential exposure to the virus,” said Torres. “Our ability to help people in need through technology has brought me a lot of pride this year. We were able to donate millions of devices globally to hospitals, schools, and community organizations that have been impacted by the pandemic.”
Like Gupta, Torres uses many of her Michigan Ross learnings in her work at Amazon, and also emphasizes the power of the Ross network.
Mark Wien, BBA ’08
Wien is the co-founder and CEO of PocketPatientMD — an integratable, doctor-led and patient-centered medical platform. The platform is used by organizations, governments, and physicians primarily in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America to track, screen, and contact trace COVID-19 patients. The platform has its strongest presence across the African continent.
The work that PocketPatientMD has been doing hasn’t gone unnoticed: Wien was asked to join an Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention Task Force focused on Health Information Exchanges in January 2020.
“This was right before the pandemic began and when COVID-19 was first coming into the news,” said Wien. “It was unique timing as our focus was to help come up with the guidelines and standards around digital health and HIE for the African Union and its member countries.”
The pandemic has increased and showcased the need for digital health tools to reduce the strain on the healthcare system and improve resilience. In response to this need, the platform was updated with a wide range of new features, such as contact tracing and a COVID-19 screening algorithm, seamlessly integrating with a patient’s health record.
“Having access to accurate information and better tracking capabilities led to quick containment of the spread of the virus among one government and organization,” said Wien. “It also allowed another organization to show a profound improvement in morbidity and mortality rates by having access to better and accurate data, and through being able to follow-up and monitor more patients at once in real time.”
Wien believes that PocketPatientMD would not have come to fruition had it not been for his experience at Michigan Ross.
“This idea wouldn’t have come to be, and the encouragement I have had to think outside the box and be entrepreneurial, I fully credit with my experiences at Ross,” said Wien. “I have attended other schools, but no school has provided the network, community, support, education, and promoted the level of professionalism and confidence that I experienced at Michigan. It’s why I bring the flag wherever I travel, and why I remain so proud to be a Michigan Wolverine.”