HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 155

Houston digital health startup sees rapid expansion, grows team

Tatiana Fofanova, co-founder and CEO of Koda, joined the Houston Innovators Podcast to discuss her company's growth. Image via LinkedIn

It's Tatiana Fofanova's goal to have her company's digital health platform active in all 50 states by the end of the first quarter of 2023. She's already halfway there.

Fofanova founded Koda Health, a B2B Enterprise SaaS solution that guides patients through the process of proactive healthcare planning and document authentication, in early 2020 with her co-founders Dr. Desh Mohan, who serves as chief medical officer, and Katelin Cherry, the company's CTO. The trio connected in the Texas Medical Center's Biodesign Fellowship program and observed how advanced care planning was something that wasn't on the radar for most patients.

The tech platform allows for patients and their providers to get on the same page for their care. Fofanova describes the platform as similar to TurboTax — users answer a series of questions and the program provides a care plan then shared with the patient's doctors. This greatly simplifies — and democratizes — the process for patients and providers both.

"The standard of care for advanced care planning has traditionally been left to patients to do on their own — with estate planning attorney or through a direct-to-consumer solution," Fofanova says on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast.

But when the pandemic hit, not only did patients have a harder time accessing these services, but it also further exposed the gap between the people who traditionally could afford advanced care planning and those who could not. Koda Health targets value-based care organizations, who then onboard the platform for their patients to use for free. Fofanova says it's in these providers' best interest to have these plans established.

"For the customers we were serving — the value-based care organizations — it was there priority as well to bring those services to those populations," Fofanova says. "They save money when they deliver the right care. When they don't know the right care to deliver, everything escalates."

Within a few months of launch, Koda Health was invited to Techstars, received NSF funding, and started its first paid pilot. The pandemic was almost like a firecracker for her business, she says.

Koda Health is having another period of rapid growth. Following a $3.5 million seed funding round earlier this year, the company is developing out its product across the country, which poses several challenges for Koda.

"Regulations for medical power of attorney, advance directives, do not resuscitate orders — things like that — vary from state to state," Fofanova says. "Some states are fairly simple, but others are incredibly complicated. We've been working with a law firm to make our product legally compliant in every state, and that has required an entire rebuild of our fundamental engine in order to toggle on or off all of these requirements."

Recently launching its Spanish beta platform, Koda is now compliant in 25 states with new contracts in most of those areas already. She now has 12 full-time employees working in both Houston and remotely. This year, Koda has about 5,000 patients on its platform. Next year, based on growth projections, Fofanova says that number will grow to 100,000 before hitting 500,000 patients in 2024.

She shares more details about this growth and the future of Koda Health on the podcast. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.


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Building Houston

 
 

Here's what Houston research news dominated this year on InnovationMap. Photo via Getty Images

Editor's note: As 2022 comes to a close, InnovationMap is looking back at the year's top stories in Houston innovation. In many cases, innovative startups originate from meticulous research deep within institutions. This past year, InnovationMap featured stories on these research institutions — from their breakthrough innovations to funding fueling it all. Here are five Houston research-focused articles that stood out to readers this year — be sure to click through to read the full story.


Texas nonprofit cancer research funder doles out millions to health professionals moving to Houston

These cancer research professionals just got fresh funding from a statewide organization. Photo by Dwight C. Andrews/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

Thanks in part to multimillion-dollar grants from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, two top-flight cancer researchers are taking key positions at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Pavan Reddy and Dr. Michael Taylor each recently received a grant of $6 million from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

Reddy is leaving his position as chief of hematology-oncology and deputy director at the University of Michigan’s Rogel Cancer Center to become director of the Baylor College of Medicine’s Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. C. Kent Osborne stepped down as the center’s director in 2020; Dr. Helen Heslop has been the interim director. Continue reading.

Rice University deploys grant funding to 9 innovative Houston research projects

Nine research projects at Rice University have been granted $25,000 to advance their innovative solutions. Photo courtesy of Rice

Over a dozen Houston researchers wrapped up 2021 with the news of fresh funding thanks to an initiative and investment fund from Rice University.

The Technology Development Fund is a part of the university’s Creative Ventures initiative, which has awarded more than $4 million in grants since its inception in 2016. Rice's Office of Technology Transfer orchestrated the $25,000 grants across nine projects. Submissions were accepted through October and the winners were announced a few weeks ago. Continue reading.

Houston researchers create unprecedented solar energy technology that improves on efficiency

Two researchers out of the University of Houston have ideated a way to efficiently harvest carbon-free energy 24 hours a day. Photo via Getty Images

Two Houstonians have developed a new system of harvesting solar energy more efficiently.

Bo Zhao, the Kalsi Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Houston, along with his doctoral student Sina Jafari Ghalekohneh, have created a technology that theoretically allows solar energy to be harvested to the thermodynamic limit, which is the absolute maximum rate sunlight can be converted into electricity, as reported in a September article for Physical Review Applied.

Traditional solar thermophotovoltaics (STPVs), or the engines used to extract electrical power from thermal radiation, run at an efficiency limit of 85.4 percent, according to a statement from UH. Zhao and Ghalekohneh's system was able to reach a rate of 93.3 percent, also known as the Landsberg Limit. Continue reading.

Texas A&M receives $10M to create cybersecurity research program

Texas A&M University has announced a new cybersecurity-focused initiative. Photo via tamu.edu

Texas A&M University has launched an institute for research and education regarding cybersecurity.

The Texas A&M Global Cyber Research Institute is a collaboration between the university and a Texas A&M University System engineering research agency, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station. The research agency and Texas A&M are also home to the Texas A&M Cybersecurity Center.

The institute is funded by $10 million in gifts from former Texas A&M student Ray Rothrock, a venture capitalist and cybersecurity expert, and other donors. Continue reading.

Houston research organization doles out $28M in grants to innovators across Texas

Houston-based Welch Foundation has awarded almost $28 million in chemical research grants throughout Texas this year. Photo via Getty Images

Chemical researchers at seven institutions in the Houston area are receiving nearly $12.9 million grants from the Houston-based Welch Foundation.

In the Houston area, 43 grants are going to seven institutions:

  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Rice University
  • Texas A&M University
  • Texas A&M University Health Science Center
  • University of Houston
  • University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
  • University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston

The Welch Foundation is awarding almost $28 million in chemical research grants throughout Texas this year. The money will be allocated over a three-year period. Continue reading.

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