One failed at his first two healthcare start-ups. Another experienced a series of misfires on a strategy that eventually clicked on the last try. A third started her own company after she decided that a previous company she worked for wasn’t putting patients first. Yet another pressed forward with an idea despite daily criticism from those who said the plan wouldn’t work.

They all are now successful innovators in one of the country’s most innovative healthcare markets—Minneapolis-St. Paul, better known as the Twin Cities. A clear commonality across this group is their passionate commitment to changing healthcare for the better despite the long odds of success and a string of failed attempts at change that would have sent lesser would-be innovators into much safer corporate positions.

Another thread that connects them is the key tenet of each of their respective innovations. Their ideas, programs, strategies and initiatives knock down the barriers for patients to do the right things to improve their health, whether it’s seeing a doctor, taking their medications or shopping for patient care services based on transparent value.

Meet Thompson Aderinkomi, founder and CEO of RetraceHealth, Mark Ereth, M.D., founder and CEO of Transfuse Solutions, Robert Narveson, president and CEO of Thrifty White Pharmacy, Amy Nelson, founder and CEO of Accurate Home Care, Troy Simonson, CEO of Twin Cities Orthopedics.

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Thompson Aderinkomi is the founder and CEO of RetraceHealth, an innovative primary-care practice that combines telehealth consulting capabilities with at-home visits to patients for fixed and transparent prices. Aderinkomi launched the company after a scary and frustrating experience he had getting care for his infant son from an established pediatric practice five miles away. “I asked myself, ‘Why is it this way?’” he says. He also launched RetraceHealth after two earlier start-ups he founded failed. “I know I can’t stop because it’s actually persistence that makes people successful,” he says. Read more about Aderinkomi and his commitment to making access to primary care easier and cheaper

Unable to cast object of type 'System.DBNull' to type 'System.String'.   at McKesson.ImageHelper.getImageDesc(String URL) Mark Ereth, M.D.

Mark Ereth, M.D., is the founder and CEO of Transfuse Solutions, a healthcare services firm that offers an innovative mix of blood management solutions aimed at reducing unnecessary and inappropriate blood transfusions. Dr. Ereth’s ah-ha moment lasted about 25 years as he witnessed thousands of costly blood transfusions while teaching and practicing anesthesiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He created a business that combines education, data and informatics, change management and diagnostic and clinical-decision support to reduce unnecessary and inappropriate blood transfusions by 50% at hospitals and other transfusion sites. The result is better and safer patient care and lower operating costs for providers. “We want to make it easy for them to do the right thing and make it hard for them to do the wrong thing,” he says. Read more about Dr. Ereth and his approach to transforming blood management

Unable to cast object of type 'System.DBNull' to type 'System.String'.   at McKesson.ImageHelper.getImageDesc(String URL) Robert Narveson

Robert Narveson is president and CEO of Thrifty White Pharmacy, which operates 49 pharmacies in Minnesota. Under Narveson, Thrifty White has developed an innovative medication adherence program that combines prescription refill synchronization with regular and multiple personal touch points with patients to increase their engagement with their care and with other caregivers. The approach comes after earlier efforts to improve adherence weren’t achieving the desired goals. It was the mix of making it easier to fill multiple prescriptions and connecting patients with pharmacists and other caregivers that produced a potent program. “It’s the touch points that make it work,” he says. Read more about Narveson and Thrifty White’s commitment to medication adherence.

Unable to cast object of type 'System.DBNull' to type 'System.String'.   at McKesson.ImageHelper.getImageDesc(String URL) Amy Nelson

Amy Nelson is founder and CEO of Accurate Home Care, which provides more than two million hours of services to home care clients each year.  Nelson was just 18 years old when she started Accurate Home Care in 2002. Her decision to cut her own path came after working at two other agencies. She says she learned much from those experiences — both what to do and what not to do. Neither of those agencies exist today, while Nelson’s is thriving. It combines high-tech care and high-touch personal service. So personal, in fact, that potential clients interview Accurate Home Care staff prior to an engagement to see if there’s a fit for both parties. “I was told so many times I was not going to succeed at 18 years old, and so it just pushed me to do it more,” she reflects. Read more about Nelson and her approach to quality home-based care.

Unable to cast object of type 'System.DBNull' to type 'System.String'.   at McKesson.ImageHelper.getImageDesc(String URL) Troy Simonson

Troy Simonson is CEO of Twin Cities Orthopedics, a specialty medical practice of 85 physicians and more than 800 employees providing care at 25 locations in the metropolitan Minneapolis-St. Paul market. In 2012, Twin Cities Orthopedics started its Excel bundled-payment program. Excel offers patients needing joint replacement surgery a coordinated and comprehensive range of pre- and post-surgical services in addition to all surgical services for a fixed price known ahead of time. The program takes the guesswork out of what patients will receive and what they’ll pay, allowing them to shop for orthopedic services based on value. “Whatever you create initially, everyone will tell you why it won’t work,” he says. “Find the answers to why it will work and keep pushing forward.” Read more about Simonson and Twin Cities Orthopedics’s innovative bundled-payment program

Unable to cast object of type 'System.DBNull' to type 'System.String'.   at McKesson.ImageHelper.getImageDesc(String URL) Barbara Spurrier

Barbara Spurrier is the administrative director of the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation. Though synonymous with world-class patient care for nearly 150 years, one of the Goliath’s of the healthcare industry thought even it wasn’t doing enough to improve the delivery of healthcare services. That recommitment to transforming the healthcare experience for patients gave birth to the center in 2008. According to Spurrier, the secret to the center’s success is a combination of people and location. The center’s staffers have nontraditional and diverse backgrounds, which spur the group to think differently about how to improve care. And they work in a flexible and open office setting that’s conducive to free-thinking and collaboration. “We’re bringing a new approach and a new methodology to human-centered innovation,” she says. Read more about Spurrier and Mayo Clinic's Center for Innovation.


Hear from a core group of Twin Cities healthcare innovators on how they’re enabling patients and healthcare organizations to improve their physical and business health by breaking down age-old industry barriers and traditions.  Watch video

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