In good hands

Houston nonprofit utilizes art to connect medical professionals to patients

Doctors are people too — some are even artists. This Houston organization is shining a light on Houston's multifaceted physicians. Courtesy of Arts of Healing

Imagine your doctor holding a paintbrush rather than a stethoscope. The Arts of Healing is working to connect patients to their medical professionals in a new way, encouraging a more personal connection that extends beyond the exam room.

Established in 2017 by Lori and Isaac Raijman, The Arts of Healing Foundation is a Houston-based nonprofit organization that unites physicians from the major hospitals throughout the Texas Medical Center to showcase their unique artistic talents and fundraise for local organizations. Over the past three years, the organization has raised $188,000 for charity.

Lori Raijman, founder, worked as a public school teacher for 24 years, introducing art as a voice and vehicle for her students.

"After my teaching career, I started managing my husband's art business, and he is a physician who paints," Raijman tells InnovationMap. "People would come to his office and talk to him about art, their first encounter with him was different because of the connection through the art."

The Arts of Healing hosts an annual art show where physicians exhibit their work, from painting and photography to music. The 2019 show will take place on Friday, November 8, at the Post Oak Hotel and will benefit The Sunshine Kids Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting children who are fighting cancer.

The Arts of Healing is also planning events outside of the annual art show where physicians can spend time with the children supported by The Sunshine Kids Foundation. During these events, medical professionals will bring in art supplies and musical instruments to interact with the children.

"It's a different level of giving back in sharing the love you have for creating through an experience," says Raijman.

Past beneficiaries include Lung Force (2018) and Pancreatic Cancer (2017).

Raijman tells InnovationMap that her first art show was in 2008 at Hotel Zaza with an attendance of some 300 people. "Years passed and I was trying to figure out how to have physicians art rotate through the hospitals," said Raijman. "Some hospitals do show photography of their physicians in the call, but there wasn't an exhibit of art anywhere."

In 2017, Issac Raijman's art was noticed by a friend who worked with River Oaks District that offered to display the art inside the stores.

"It was like a lightbulb just went off," Raijman tells InnovationMap.

She then moved forward with gathering a group of physicians to showcase their art at the retail stores and raise money for charity. Some two dozen physicians participated in the first exhibition and around 2,000 people attended.

"You see the physicians willing to show this vulnerability that we don't normally see and as a patient that is refreshing," says Raijman. She explains that she feels patients usually feel vulnerable when dealing with medical professionals, sharing their most personal information.

The Arts of Healing website states that studies show art supports creativity and practice in medicine, making better physicians; it also enables medical professionals to better connect, empathize with, and support their patients.

"It also unifies the doctors of the Texas Medical Center," says Raijman. "When you think about the Texas Medical Center and the gold mine of talent there and it's not been harnessed together in this way before, that's a unique factor."

Raijman is also planning an event that will take place next year for women in the medical field, bringing together medical professionals from a variety or practices and specializations.

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Building Houston

 
 

AvidXchange executives explain why a crisis like the pandemic can provide opportunities for growth or realignment. Photo via Getty Images

From esports to telemedicine, some technologies are having a major moment during the COVID-19 crisis. As many businesses are operating remotely with work-from-home policies in place indefinitely, payments automation is another technology that's seen an opportunity amid the pandemic.

AvidXchange, which has invoice and payment processes automation software for mid-market businesses, is one of the companies in this payment automation space that's seen growth in spite of the economic downturn caused by the virus. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company was founded in 2000 and went on to acquire Houston-founded Strongroom Solutions Inc. in 2015.

Since the acquisition, AvidXchange has quadrupled its presence in Houston and does a good deal of business locally. Equipping companies with tools for remote work is crucial — now and especially in light of Houston's propensity for challenges. Tyler Gill, vice president of sales for AvidXchange based in the Houston office and former CEO of Strongroom, joined Houston Exponential on a virtual panel to discuss this topic.

"We've had a history of disasters in Houston. Any time we can help businesses move to a more cloud-based infrastructure is going to be better," Gill says on the livestream. "I think working from home is maybe the new normal for a lot of employees — so how do we enable this?"

Gill and his colleague, Chris Elmore, senior sales performance director at AvidXchange, joined Joey Sanchez of HX for the talk about the acquisition, the pandemic, and growth for the company. If you missed it or don't have time to stream the whole conversation, here are some impactful moments of the chat.

“Economic downturns have a tendency to put a very bright light on a feature set or a product or a service that’s underperforming."

— Elmore says on how the pandemic affects innovation and startups. "My hope is that entrepreneurs will see this as a real time to get focused on their business — what's working well and what's not working well — and my hope is that they'll say, 'I need to fix that,' not 'I wish this was better,'" he says.

“For a young entrepreneur looking to build a business, make sure you’re looking for the people who are germane to your business.”

— Gill says about starting his business in Houston. At first, he was trying to find investors in oil and gas, but he found more success working with companies with a background in finance technology. "Houston has a history and density in fintech — I just had to find it."

“The fact that Strongroom owned the automated payment process in HOA that made them so attractive to AvidXchange because we didn’t.”

— Elmore says on the 2015 acquisition. He explains that AvidXchange had set up a presence in multifamily and commercial real estate, while Strongroom had a hold on homeowner's association, or HOA, business. The two companies competed for a while, and if Strongroom hadn't had their HOA specialty that made the company ideal for acquisition, Elmore says the two companies would still be competing today.

“When Strongroom was added to AvidXchange, our culture improved. By the way, we went from 40 employees to 1,000 within 14 months, and Strongroom was right at the beginning of that.”

— Elmore says on growth following the acquisition. The company now has 1,500 employees across seven offices and just closed a $128 million round of fundraising in April.

“Customers don’t care how big you get or how much money you raise from investors. They care about if your service is still doing the things they need to operate their business.”

— Gill says, reminding entrepreneurs to always prioritize and be focused on the client experience — through mergers or acquisitions, fundraising rounds, growth, etc.

“When you replace human interaction with technology, what you have to do, is to now move that person on to something more impactful and more important for the business. I don’t like tech for tech’s sake.”

— Elmore says on the importance of automation. "When you automate something, the output of automation is time," he adds.

“Houston couldn’t be a better place to build a business — I found great investors and employees here. It’s a city that’s used to risk. But it’s got to be you, the entrepreneur, that’s got something festering — that’s how you know it’s a great idea.”

— Gill says on inspiring future innovators. "What kept me motivated was I wanted to win. I felt like we had a great product, and we had a big market to serve. … I wanted to build something lasting and build a great team."

“We continue to be a great Houston story — some of my angel investors in Houston are still benefiting."

— Gill says on AvidXchange's presence in Houston. He adds that he's proud of how his former Strongroom team members have risen through the ranks of the company following the acquisition and that he sees the company, which is still privately held, moving toward IPO.

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