Knight Foundation and Baptist Health Team Up for Fellowship Program in Healthcare Technology Innovation

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July 25, 2022


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Promoting transformation through experiential learning, the Knight Foundation Fellowship in Healthcare Technology Innovation has wrapped up its inaugural 10-month cohort and is accepting applications through August 5 for its 2022-2023 cohort, which begins September 30. The program is part of Baptist Health Innovations, which is working to engineer the future of healthcare.

The inaugural cohort of 26 fellows came from diverse professional backgrounds ranging from careers in engineering and finance to clinicians in healthcare and the legal sector. Participants share a desire to further develop their tech innovation and entrepreneurial skills to impact both the clinical and business side of healthcare.

Alex Casillas, COO of Quest Health Solutions, cofounder of DMEconnected and a member of the first cohort, calls the experience eye-opening. In business management for the past 20 years, he said the fellowship will help him as he continues to solve healthcare issues specific to an aging population.

“The topics we covered and the framework for the fellowship somewhat mirrored an accelerator or bootcamp,” he said. “It was very collaborative and the ability to see a problem from different angles and perspectives was critical.”

Although Court McEachrane, a senior associate in data science consulting at KPMG, works in a very different field from Mr. Casillas, he had similar reasons for wanting to be a fellow. “I came from outside of healthcare,” he said. “Having the opportunity to be in a room full of innovative minds, really thinking outside the box, it’s amazing. The program is an awesome opportunity to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit in South Florida.”

During the program, fellows are grouped into multidisciplinary teams to look at critical medical needs and bring their multifaceted perspectives toward pioneering solutions. Training that crosses many disciplines and areas of entrepreneurship leads to a final presentation where groups pitch their novel ideas and potential commercial solutions.

The winning team from this year’s Knight Foundation Fellowship Fellowship in Healthcare Technology Innovation (from L to R): Shayan Shams, Manager, Telemedicine Operations, Hims & Hers; Carlos Diago, Director, Human Resources, Baptist Health; Zenia Reyes-Bardelas, Business Technology Consultant Technology & Digital Services, Baptist Health; Kellie Montoya, Director, International Projects, Baptist Health;  Rosanna Otero-Molina, Senior Auditor, Compliance, Baptist Health; Alex Casillas, COO, Quest Health Solutions & Co-Founder, DMEconnected 

Also key to the fellowship is the networking that occurs among participants and with those who are speakers and educators, says Joseph Jankowski, Senior Advisor, Baptist Health Innovations.

“In a few years, we’ll have 100-plus people who know each other from this program,” Mr. Jankowski said. “As they work together on entrepreneurial and innovative programs in South Florida, you have the beginning of a community. Participants learn that they can be part of changing things. They don’t have to wait for somebody else, or for a company to sell the product they need.”

Particularly valuable, members of the first cohort agree, was hearing from successful entrepreneurs at top companies such as Boston Scientific and Stanford, as well as entrepreneurial leaders throughout the country.

“It was really important for me, personally, to see that practicing physicians, took something from an idea to an actual product,” says Courtney Fussell, R.N., who works in concurrent denials prevention at Baptist Health. “The program has grown my network and made me understand that even though I am a nurse on the clinical side, I also have a place in healthcare tech. My voice can be heard.”

Francesca de Quesada Covey, a partner at TheVentureCity and the Tech Innovation Advisor to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, served as a judge at the final presentation event for the first cohort. “The ideas that came out of this competition were very, very interesting,” she said. “It was also incredible to see such a cross-disciplinary team come together over 10 months to really think about healthcare.”

The Knight Foundation Fellowship in Healthcare Technology Innovation is supported through a grant from the Knight Foundation and matching funds from community philanthropists raised through the Baptist Health Foundation.

Applicants with an interest in digital health, continuous improvement, the patient experience, complex designs and other areas of healthcare technology and development are invited to apply. The program is free, but competitive in terms of acceptance.

Fellow alumni Mr. Casillas encourages like-minded professionals to apply. To prospective applicants, he says, “Get ready to showcase to the world your innovative ideas and get ready to change the world.”

All 26 fellows from the Knight Foundation Fellowship in Healthcare Technology Innovation’s inaugural cohort with Joe Natoli, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Baptist Health, and Barry T. Katzen, M.D., founder of Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute and chief medical innovation officer for Baptist Health

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