Ron Mandelbaum is, by his account, on his third or fourth career at this point.
“This is like this not your typical startup, a bunch of 20-year-olds that come up with an idea back of a napkin,” said Mandelbaum. “There’s tech involved, there’s healthcare. You couldn’t have come up with this unless you’ve been around the block and experienced and lived in this medical-industrial complex.”
While Mandelbaum could be looking more towards retirement, he’s the co-founder and executive vice president HealtheMed, a technology company that created the [email protected] platform, which is a digital system that enables different care services to be performed in the home setting, including regular virtual clinical visits and remote patient monitoring. The platform is currently available to Medicaid and Medicare waivered participants.
“Its been a fascinating journey,” said Mandelbaum. The company formed more than four years ago, but the operations didn’t launch until September 2020 as COVID was ramping up. “Interestingly, we were one of the businesses and types of companies that were catapulted into the spotlight because of the telemedicine angle. COVID really just spotlighted the need for what we do. This is really the crescendo of when you have a lot of really decades of good thinking and experience across the whole landscape of Minnesota health care.”
Mandelbaum said [email protected] is a “digital system of care.” Clients are given a free, 50-inch smart TV, outfitted with multipoint video capability and integrated Bluetooth devices, such as a medication auto-dispensing unit, pulse oximeter, and thermometer – all of which are all connected to the platform.
“The home has now become the lowest cost-of-care setting where 80 to 90 percent of primary care can be delivered,” Mandelbaum said. “And that’s any population, let alone our clients who really need it the most.”
Mandelbaum comes to the company with experience in sales, sales management, and strategic business development. He’s both owned companies and worked for other large companies, and along the way met the other partners in HealtheMed along the way.
“We’ve worked together on different projects for some aspect of health care,” he said. “I have the least all of my other partners have decades. (They have), in some cases, four or five decades of deep health care experience. Mine is less so in the health care, more on the tech on the strategic alliances, and they kind of pulled me in and to help them on some projects.”
Being in the health care industry isn’t just as easy as getting into that industry. With health care coming in at one-seventh of the economy, it’s a highly-regulated business. State standards mandate that managed care organizations like Medica and Blue Cross cover particular areas. HealtheMed’s first foray into this space was with a predecessor to the company winning a contract from Prime West, a managed care organization that covers an area north and northwest of the Twin Cities.
“We got a contract awarded by them for a telemedicine wound clinic,” Mandelbaum said. “In the world of health care, there’s a certain amount of people that have a would that is persistent, and we developed a protocol that was scientifically proven to expedite healing and drive the cost way down.”
Despite the success, Mandelbaum said that breaking in can be a challenge.
“There’s a tremendous establishment of the status quo – hospitals, clinics, provider organizations – everyone stakes out their territory and carves out every penny that they can out of that,” he said. “Anything looking to correct or potentially influence or be to the detriment of that, to get very nervous about. New business models are very slow to be adopted.”
Mandelbaum, who is on the Minneapolis Jewish Federation board, said they are starting to work with faith-based organizations like Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services, and have started to make inroads with Jewish Family Service of St. Paul and Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis.
“Personally, as a member of the Jewish community living here for 34 years, it kind of gnaws at me that we’re not doing more,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, we take care of our elderly. We take care of the less fortunate. Tzedakah is a core value, and doing right by people and kindness are core values, but could be doing more”