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Kelly Kerns is co-founder, COO and Chief Architect of ABPathfinder. Kelly’s unique combination of technical skills and understanding of healthcare provided him the vision to create ABPathfinder’s solution. Kelly also serves as CIO of GreenTree Technology Partners providing software and technical consulting to the biosciences industry.
ABPathfinder helps kids with Autism gain skills faster by making their therapists more efficient and effective. Therapists use ABPathfinder as a comprehensive technology solution for streamlining intervention planning and data management to improve individualized patient outcomes, increasing control and consistency over therapy delivery, reducing staff training time and allowing therapists to focus on their practice. In the end, more kids will get the help they need to participate in society.
MO: How has your background and experience influenced the development of ABPathfinder?
Kelly: I’ve had one foot in medicine or biotech throughout my 25 year technical career. I’ve worked in medical operations and logistics as well as being a care provider myself. I’ve seen how technology, especially DSS (Decision Support Systems) can provide efficiencies and improved patient care. Autism is one of the fastest growing medical problems our nation currently faces, yet 97% of therapy is still documented using paper and pencil. This just seemed like a problem custom made for a technical solution.
MO: What problem is ABPathfinder solving?
Kelly: ABA therapy, the only evidence based approach for helping patients with Autism, is extremely data intensive. The evidence based planning of therapy sessions based on chart review, and then graphing an analysis of collected data can take 5-10 hours a week per patient. ABPathfinder, can streamline this process saving hours which the therapist can better spend interacting directly with their patients.
MO: Can you share a bit about the process of developing and writing the software system and some of the challenges you encountered along the way?
Kelly: I’ve spent over 4500 hours writing the software system. I worked closely with therapists and autism professionals to gather the requirements and understand their biggest challenges. I’ve built a flexible system that provides real value in a variety of environments from therapy centers to home based programs and public schools. I consistently worked 15-18 hour days out of my home in Kingsville, MO, writing the majority of the software in the late night/early morning hours so I could be available for “business development” activities during normal business hours.
MO: What advice would you give to someone in search of a business partner?
Kelly: Founders must wear all the hats and cover all the thousands of points that require attention while bringing the company to life, but it is important to focus on your strengths and rely on a solid business partner to fill the gaps, trusting that those gaps represent the partner’s strengths. It is important to support and trust each other enough to “stay in your lane” most of the time. That being said it’s critical that all partners accept and respect each other’s input and are open to suggestions and even criticism. Just because the person offering advice might not be the SME (Subject Matter Expert) doesn’t mean they don’t have relevant ideas even in areas that might not be their core competence.
MO: What are some trends in your industry that you’re excited about?
Kelly: While it’s more disturbing than exciting, the CDC reports that 1:88 children born next year will be diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. This is up 23% from the 1:110 when we started ABPathfinder just 2 years ago. This compounds the problem of overwhelming data demand and paper data collection and makes a solution like ABPathfinder that much more important.
MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for ABPathfinder?
Kelly: We were recently nominated as a spotlight startup in Kansas City and featured in Kansas City Tech Cocktail. We have made some great progress in closing our Series A investment round, giving us some momentum going into next year. Product wise, we are very excited that we will be expanding into Practice Management. We have also built an interface framework which will enable strategic partnerships with assistive technology vendors and multiple research opportunities with universities and academic hospitals.
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