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BioSTL brings international health care execs to St. Louis for innovation summit

BioSTL brings international health care execs to St. Louis for innovation summit

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Representatives of more than a dozen Israeli and Irish companies participated in the inaugural GlobalSTL Healthcare Summit this week, a ramped-up effort by BioSTL to attract international health care companies to St. Louis.

The summit included a five-hour tour on Wednesday that took entrepreneurs to some of the region’s most innovative companies, followed by pitches from international companies and one-on-one “speed dates” with venture capitalists and local health care executives.

Vijay Chauhan, GlobalSTL lead at BioSTL, says the initiative is designed not only to get international companies to locate operations in St. Louis but to help them grow their business nationally and internationally.

“We call it the ‘identify, attract and nurture’ strategy,” Chauhan said. “Once they put their roots here, we nurture their growth to make them a successful St. Louis international company.”

The tour included a stop at the north St. Louis County headquarters of Express Scripts, the nation’s biggest pharmacy benefit manager. There, Tom Henry, the company’s chief data officer, demonstrated an interactive map that tracks the concentration of opioid prescriptions in the United States by using Express Scripts data. The company monitors doctors’ prescription habits, and submits suspicious cases to its Special Investigations Unit.

The tour also included a stop at the Mercy Virtual Care Center in Chesterfield — the “hospital without beds,” where nurses sitting in front of computer screens monitor patients remotely.

“It was interesting to visit Mercy Virtual and understand the type of innovative health care system that they are. We are looking for early adopters of our technology and they seem to be a very innovative, forward-thinking organization,” said Dr. David Yavin, North America president for Medial EarlySign. Medial EarlySign is an Israeli company that develops software to help doctors detect and treat illnesses. One of its products, ColonFlag, is designed to help identify people at a high risk of colorectal cancer.

The visiting execs also got a chance to connect with representatives from Centene Corp., BJC HealthCare, Ascension Health, OSF HealthCare, St. Louis University School of Medicine, SSM Health, and the Washington University School of Medicine.

“My main takeaway from today is that there is need for customer care at home,” said Asher Polani, CEO of ContinUse Biometrics. “The trend goes away from the clinics and hospitals over to a patient’s home.”

ContinUse Biometrics is an Israeli company that develops biosensing technology which captures information without touching the person. Polani said ContinUse Biometrics is scouting sites for a U.S. headquarters, and St. Louis is among the cities under consideration.

Donn Rubin, CEO of BioSTL, said small international companies that move to St. Louis have the advantage of greater access to key decision-makers.

“If they went to Silicon Valley, that would be a different story,” Rubin said. “They can be a bigger fish in our pond.”

GlobalSTL is a part of BioSTL’s initiative to make St. Louis a global player in the bioscience, agriculture technology and health care fields. Because of those efforts five Israeli ag tech companies already opened their headquarters in St. Louis. This time, BioSTL is focusing on health care.

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