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September 14, 2017 | Tom Ballard


The Works Demo Day 3(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is another in a series of articles spotlighting companies competing in this year’s “The Works” growth accelerator operated by the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center {KEC}. The teams will have their “Demo Day” on September 20 as part of the second annual “Innov865 Week.” To register, click here.)

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

The acronym says it all. CQI, short for CQ Insights, is the name of a Knoxville-based start-up that is focused on clinical quality improvement.

Building on a decade of work undertaken by Bruce Ramshaw, Chair of Surgery for the University of Tennessee’s (UT) Graduate School of Medicine, CQI’s goal is to enhance patient care based on learning from real data.

“We have built a learning system applied to actual patient care,” Ramshaw says. He’s Chair of CQI’s Board of Directors and the company’s Chief Medical Officer. The Founder of several start-ups, including Surgical Momentum, took the UT position about two years ago after serving since 2009 as Chair of the Halifax Health Medical Center General Surgery Residency Program in Daytona Beach, FL.

“We worked through our proof on concept in Florida, but determined that the way we structured Surgical Momentum was not scalable,” Ramshaw explained. So, about nine months ago, that start-up was shut down, and CQI was launched.

The company brings value to medical professionals, their patients, and those who are providing tools for better healthcare – pharmaceutical companies, device manufacturers, and diagnostic tool developers.

“It’s a learning system applied to actual patient care,” Ramshaw explains. Continuous data collection and analysis results in improved knowledge that can be applied in medical and nursing school education as well as fed to the companies proving the tools that healthcare professionals prescribe or use.

“Most medical processes are developed from reductionist science, where the outcome is designed to be a best fit for all patients,” Ramshaw says, adding that this approach “means some (patients) respond optimally, while the majority don’t.”

So, what’s different about CQI’s approach? It starts with the collection of real patient data and ends with the utilization of the results.

“We draw from complex systems science, where the outcome is optimized for the patient, not the population,” Ramshaw says, explaining that CQI strives to improve patient care within a given patient care pathway. As a result, the patient receives better care, costs are hopefully reduced, and companies receive clear, actionable intelligence on how to improve their product and reduce liability.

“We’re giving tools and insights to patients and their medical teams,” Ramshaw adds.

The pivot about nine months ago has produced very positive results. CQI has lined-up contracts totaling nearly $2 million over the next two years from pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostic companies that want access to the analysis of data that the company is collecting.

CQI’s management team includes a number of well-known Knoxvillians. Eric Dobson, Chair of Angel Capital Group, serves as Chief Executive Officer, while Jim Hart, former Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of World Marketing Company, is COO of CQI, and Stephen Arnold, serves as Chief Financial Officer as part of his firm Arnold CFO Services. Rounding out the team is Brandie Forman, Clinical Director.

The UT Medical Center has played a critical role as a launch partner. In addition, CQI’s tech partner is PYA Analytics.

“The support we have received from the community has been so great,” Ramshaw said. He cited Joe Landsman, CEO of UT Medical Center; UT Dean James Neutens; KEC’s Jim Biggs; and several other UT administrators.

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