Digital health hires: Dr. Mehmet Oz joins iBeat as advisor, CareMore hires clinical leadership team and more

By Heather Mack
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Dr. Mehmet Oz, a well-known television personality, has joined health technology startup iBeat as Special Advisor, in addition to making an investment in the company. The company makes a not-yet-launched smartwatch that offers continuous monitoring and analysis of heart rate, working to instantly detect signs of oncoming cardiac arrest. Oz, after reportedly seeing the potential impact of the device, invested in, partnered and signed on with the advisory role for iBeat.

"This device is not only a technological breakthrough that will be more effective than anything on the market, it fits into a person’s wardrobe with style and ease, making it simple to integrate its lifesaving properties in one’s everyday routine,” Oz said in a statement. "As Special Advisor, I look forward to raising awareness around preventing life-threatening heart issues and highlighting a device that can truly save lives.”

Anthem subsidiary CareMore has hired three new executives to lead its clinical program in Memphis – Dr. Mark David Harris as regional medical officer; Dr. Sandeep Palakodeti as chief of hospital medicine; and Dr. Manisha A. Sharma as director of community health and primary care in Shelby County, Tennessee.

Harris will be responsible for overall patient care, including CareMore’s chronic disease program and others available exclusively to members of Amerigroup Medicaid plans in Shelby County. Previously, Harris served as chief of preventive medicine and public health functions at Northern Regional Medical Command/Atlantic Region.

Palaokodeti will collaborate with hospitals and specialty relationships to ensure quality of care for patients. Previously, he was attending hospitalist and instructor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic.

As director of community health and primary care, Sharma will act as a bridge between inpatient and outpatient programs to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions. Prior to this, Sharma was clinical innovator for Iora Health in Boston.

Thread Research, a remote patient research company that led four of the first eight ResearchKit studies, has hired John Reites as new chief product officer and partner. After more than 14 years as an intrapreneur at Quintiles, Reites has experience in clinical research and commercialization services, and has held many leadership positions and led several internals startup from formation through product development.

"Our industry is changing and the need for new patient research and care models powered by mobile health has never been more evident,” Reites said in a statement. “Thread Research is a leader in this revolution and I am thrilled to be a part of helping our customers adopt mobile health innovation to change the way they conduct research and engage their patients.”

Happify, an emotional well-being and mental health software maker, has hired two new executives to build out the staff of its enterprise-focused business, Happify Health. Laurie Zaugg will join as chief commercial officer and Linda Yoo will serve as head of sales.

Previously, Zaugg was at UnitedHealth Group and Optum, where she served in leadership roles for specialty networks and behavioral health. Yoo was previously vice president of sales in national accounts for Aetna, and led all behavioral health sales activities. She also previously worked at UnitedHealth Group. 
 
Startup senior care company Hometeam has brought on Elizabeth Berman as chief people officer. In this role, Berman will be in charge of the company’s HR department. This is the first hire of its kind for the company, and Berman will oversee and expand the human resources department as well as shape hiring strategy for the company as it expands across the country. Previously, Berman was vice president of people strategy and operations at Vevo.

Interactive video and telehealth provider Vidyo has hired Wendy Deibert as vice president of clinical services. In this role, Deibert will help facilitate the integration of telehealth programs as Vidyo introduces its new clinical design service VirtualDesign. Deibert is a registered nurse and telehealth expert who has experience designing and implementing telehealth programs fully integrated with the healthcare systems’ clinical operations. Previously, she was one of the original architects of the Mercy Virtual telehealth program and the managing consultant of VirtualEngine.

Wagaas Al-Siddiq, CEO of wearables maker biotricity, will serve in an advisory role on wearables for the University of Calgary at both the College of Medicine and the College of Engineering.

“Waqaas brings a knowledge of engineering and medical technology that doctors don’t have and, as a result, he can bridge the gap between medicine and engineering and help develop an effective solution for both group,” the university’s Dr. David Leipert said in a statement.