Demi Radeva, Chief Strategist at Akros Advisory Services and Chief Strategy and Operations Officer at XanthosHealth, empowers organizations to achieve their growth and strategic objectives – while also promoting health equity – through planning, execution, and change management. Specializing in reimbursement and strategic partnerships, Demi has experience advising startups on connecting effectively with large healthcare payers, building commercialization plans, and navigating critical business decisions in the startup lifecycle. She is graduate of Stanford’s Full-Time Executive Education Program on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, an active mentor for the University of Minnesota’s Technology Commercialization Venture Center, and winner of the prestigious TechStars Mentor of the Year Award 2021.
Demi was the first Global Ambassador for Digital Health Today (DHT), founding the Global Ambassador community in 2017which seeks to amplify the voice of industry trailblazers from around the globe. As a DHT contributor, she has published articles on reimbursement, social determinants of health, wellness and nutrition, as well as perspectives on various industry conferences, innovations, and one-on-one interviews with other trailblazers in digital health tech.
Demi, welcome onboard the team as our first Digital Health Today Ambassador!
- Tell us a bit more about yourself, your background and what you’re doing now.
First, thank you! I am grateful to be a part of the Digital Health Today team!
I built the foundation for my career both by studying international business and finance at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and also through working in corporate and investment finance. My original intention behind getting into finance was to help individuals generate more wealth and better manage their money, thus resulting in better housing, food, education, and opportunities for them and their families. Being so socially driven, I pivoted to healthcare and joined Optum’s consulting practice becoming extremely motivated by the complexity of the healthcare industry and the vision of the Triple Aim (delivering better outcomes, higher quality care, at a lower cost, for all).
To further my knowledge and understanding, I pursued a Master’s in International Health Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science because I knew that there must be better ways to achieve the Triple Aim in the United States. I wanted to understand how other countries had created healthcare systems that were affordable – financed in a way that didn’t allow citizens to go into healthcare bankruptcy; accessible and efficient – allowed everyone to have access to services at their times of need, and equitable – provided all mothers with an opportunity to give birth safely, regardless of race and ethnicity. Upon my return, I packaged all that I had learned into the inaugural course on U.S. and Global Health System Financing at the University of Minnesota’s Medical Industry Leadership Institute. I launched this course as a way to educate the next generation of healthcare leaders so that they may drive the creation of a new, better healthcare system over time.
Returning to Minnesota, I joined UnitedHealthcare as Director of Strategy and Business Development, in an effort to redefine the existing, limited definition of benefits, drive affordability and access to care, and improve the efficiency of the overall system.
Overall, my strong operational and strategic background, experience working with clients in clinical, payer, and digital health environments, and the unique insights my background in international health policy and business afford me, allow me to help organizations achieve their growth and strategic objectives – while also promoting health equity – through planning, execution, and change management.
Currently, I am back in Minneapolis, MN, focused on growing the digital health advisory organization I founded – Akros Advisory Services. My vision is to help empower healthcare startups to reach their full potential at any stage of the venture. Additionally, I have joined XanthosHealth, a company that offers a novel Health IT platform that connects clinical teams, community-based organizations, and patients, intelligently. As the company’s Chief Strategy and Operations Officer, I am excited to take this solution to market. If interested in partnering with us, or investing in Xanthos, please email us at [email protected]
- How did you get involved with digital health?
I became captivated with digital health during my experience at Optum. After a tour of the Innovation Center, I was driven to further explore how much digital technology can support better care across the whole spectrum of healthcare, from resolving population health issues to providing personalized medicine.
At the London School of Economics, I took specialized courses on mHealth/telehealth to gain a deeper understanding of how recent policy changes have enabled growth and innovation in this space, as well as the economic reasons for these innovations.
Leveraging my knowledge and experience, I had the privilege of being a mentor for UnitedHealthcare’s TechStars Accelerator. Over the past few years, I was a lead mentor for multiple startups and helped them launched pilots, refine their value proposition, and rethink their business and revenue models. In 2021, I was awarded the TechStars Mentor of the Year for my work with a startup in the program.
Most recently, I founded Akros Advisory Services while a part of an innovation and entrepreneurship-focused Executive Education program at Stanford University. This program gave me firsthand experience in being a founder, as well as a robust toolkit to help me navigate the launch and growth of any venture.
- Tell us about where you come from and some of the health and technology innovation that’s happening there.
I currently live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Referred to as the “Medical Alley” of the United States, Minnesota is home to many world-class medical innovation companies and healthcare providers, including UnitedHealth Group, Medtronic, Mayo Clinic, and more. Minnesota’s Twin Cities (consisting of Minneapolis and St. Paul) are particularly a hotbed for digital health innovation and comprise one of the richest healthcare communities in the country. Some of the most well-known companies in healthcare that have emerged from this community include Bind Benefits, Gravie, Carrot Health, and Bright Health.
- What are some of the top things other health innovators should know about where you live now?
The Midwest is not only filled with healthcare startups, but also the opportunities and resources for these startups to succeed. Here in Minnesota alone, we have dedicated, specialty events (e.g., Twin Cities Startup Week and MN Cup) and organizations (e.g., LaunchMN and BetaMN) that help support founders throughout their startup journeys. As another example, I am a mentor for the University of Minnesota’s Technology Commercialization Venture Center, which takes ideas and technology produced from research at the University of Minnesota, prepares them for the market, and launches new businesses around them. The Venture Center is the largest producer of high-tech startups in Minnesota, facilitating the launch of some 20+ startups each year. The impressive over-75% survival rate of these startups is due in large part to the resources, connections, and expertise the Venture Center provides.
I feel extremely lucky that I get to work on making the healthcare system better for everyone. If you are interested in working together on content for Digital Health Today, please send me a pitch to [email protected], or if you are in need of consulting services, you can reach me at [email protected]. Thank you for your support in improving healthcare for all!
- Tell us a bit more about yourself, your background and what you’re doing now.