HealthTech Arkansas, MedAxiom Team Up On HeartX

HealthTech Arkansas, MedAxiom Team Up On HeartX
Jeff Stinson, director of HealthTech Arkansas (left), and Joe Sasson, executive vice president of ventures at MedAxiom, recenlty spoke to Arkansas Business about their organizations partnering on a new cardiovascular technology-focused accelerator called HeartX. (HealthTech Arkansas and MedAxiom)

HealthTech Arkansas of Little Rock and MedAxiom of Neptune Beach, Florida, believe their partnership on a new cardiovascular technology-focused accelerator called HeartX will attract more and higher-quality applicants to the program.

Jeff Stinson, director of HealthTech Arkansas, said the HeartX accelerator’s goals are:

  • To introduce Arkansas hospitals to new technologies that improve clinical outcomes, reduce costs and enhance patient and clinician experiences; 
  • To help MedAxiom expand its network of industry partners; and
  • To produce lucrative returns for private investors in the HeartX fund that HealthTech Arkansas administers. Investors are being sought now, in the third such fund Stinson’s group  has administered.

MedAxiom, an American College of Cardiology company,  provides organizational performance products and services. It represents more than 450 cardiovascular organizations and has about 40 industry partners.

Joe Sasson, executive vice president of ventures, said MedAxiom wants HeartX to speed the adoption of innovations.

Applications for HeartX will be accepted through July 31, from early-stage companies in state and beyond offering digital health and software, medical devices and diagnostic platforms involving cardiovascular care.

The companies will be interviewed, then a committee comprising representatives from health care provider partners will select the 2022 program’s five participants by Sept. 30. Those partners are Arkansas Heart Hospital, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Arkansas Urology, Baptist Health, CHI St. Vincent, Conway Regional, Mercy, Northwest Health, OrthoArkansas, St. Bernards Healthcare, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Washington Regional Medical Center.

Each participating company will receive a $150,000 investment from the HeartX fund and be guaranteed two pilot projects. 

HeartX also is supported by a $250,000 one-year grant from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. 

The mostly virtual program will kick off with an in-person event at the Arkansas Heart Hospital in Little Rock in late November. Participants will have to be in the state only as often as is required by the pilot projects and clinical trials they become involved in.

There’s no end date for HeartX either. “We just keep working with companies as long as they want us to keep working with them,” Stinson said.

This is HealthTech Arkansas’ fifth year of administering accelerator programs, and HeartX will replace its previous cardiovascular-focused accelerator. 

Stinson said his organization’s partnership with MedAxiom offers it a “huge advantage” in attracting applicants.

“They bring national recognition, national credibility, to what they do,” he said. “They have lots and lots of cardiologists that they represent nationwide. And their name is synonymous with improving cardiovascular care for everyone. 

“So it’s a way for us to elevate the stature of our program, to bring more people into the program.”

Sasson, at MedAxiom, said the partnership “allows us to show more of our support for innovation. And it allows us to engage with companies at a stage that’s earlier than we typically do.”

He said HealthTech Arkansas has been successful thus far, the cultures of the two partners align, and both companies want to make an impact on early-stage companies. 

He said his company interacts with up to 150 companies per year, many of which are not yet ready to be full-fledged partners of MedAxiom and some of which would be a good fit for the HeartX program.

HealthTech Arkansas has been hosting accelerators since 2019, but last year narrowed its focus for several reasons, Stinson said, including a high prevalence of heart disease in Arkansas and the fact that the state has many progressive cardiologists.

Arkansas also has cardiology practices with many patients that make it “ideal as a testing ground for some of these early innovations,” Stinson said.

The change made good business sense, too, he said. “Cardiology has always been the one clinical area that attracts the most venture capital investment and the most [merger and acquisition] activity,” he said. Stinson said HeartX participants will have a lot of capital backing them that will enable their growth — including the hiring of employees and development of new products and services — that could lead to success in the form of being sold.