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Rosow steers Farmington medtech startup Diameter Health into growth mode

BY Sean Teehan

9/10/2018
HBJ Photo | Sean Teehan
HBJ Photo | Sean Teehan
After his first software startup was acquired, Eric Rosow is now scaling up his latest venture, Farmington-based Diameter Health.

Eric Rosow

CEO, Diameter Health Inc.


Highest level of education: Master’s degree in biomedical engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (now the Hartford Graduate Center), 1988


Executive philosophy: "It’s always been about pulling together the right team, the right leaders with an aligned vision and mission. I know this sounds kind of trite, but it’s so true."

Eric Rosow has been rowing since his days on Trinity College's men's crew team, and later on the U.S. national team in the late 1980s.

He loves the sport. To spectators, the boat appears to glide across the water as the eight athletes inside maintain synchronized strokes. But on the boat, rowers' muscles scream as they struggle against headwinds and choppy waters, all bearing equal responsibility in the race's outcome — sharing in the agony defeat or thrill of victory.

It works pretty easily as a metaphor for a startup, and that connection rings true for Rosow, who co-founded Farmington medical-technology firm Diameter Health Inc. about six years after his first software startup was acquired by a large publicly traded company.

Leaving the stable, well-paid job he had after the acquisition for a new venture wasn't the safest of moves, but it appealed to Rosow's entrepreneurial instincts.

"I really missed that hail and fire world of a startup," Rosow said. "And I really knew, I really believe strongly that small, nimble, passionate teams can really make a big impact in important tasks like health care."

Diameter Health, which helps health information exchanges, IT vendors and care providers and payers consolidate and better assess clinical data, expects its employee count to reach 30 by the end of the year, precipitating the company's move out of UConn's Technology Incubator Program (TIP) in Farmington, which supports early stage tech companies, and has housed Diameter since 2016.

The company will be searching for new office space, with plans to stay in Farmington.

Rosow attributes some of Diameter's early success to his experience running a software startup.

After receiving a master's degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (now the Hartford Graduate Center) in 1988, Rosow went to work at Hartford Hospital as its director of biomedical engineering. That put him in contact with a multitude of vendors, clinicians and others in IT organizations.

Those interactions inspired Rosow to start a software firm, Premise Corp., in 2000, whose platform helped health systems streamline patient flow.

"It was an amazing experience; building a great organization, working with some of the finest health systems in the country including Cleveland Clinic and Mass. General," Rosow said.

The company was eventually acquired by Eclipsys Corp. in 2008, which was swallowed up by Allscripts two years later. Both companies kept Rosow on as general manager and vice president of patient flow.

While at Eclipsys, Rosow met John D'Amore, who published papers on computer information exchanges, and best practices in population health.

"Looking at what he had started, I was very excited about the potential that it could yield into analytics, and to (health insurers) and other providers, technology vendors," Rosow said. "That's why I was excited to join Diameter back in 2014."

Diameter works to solve what Rosow calls "clinical data disorder." The nationwide effort for healthcare facilities to move all health records from paper to the digital realm has created a situation where patient files can have hundreds of pages of information that can be redundant or contain conflicting information.

For example, documents in a patient's file may appear to show a patient taking several medications, when he is actually on a single medication that's been documented under several different brand names.

Diameter's software would recognize the different names as the same medication, and list it as such, condensing the file for busy clinicians.

"Physicians, nurses … burnout from all the work," Rosow said. "Frankly, electronic health records have brought tremendous potential inefficiencies in some respects. They also turned a lot of the most highly educated professionals in the country into data input people."

The software can also be used to streamline data for researchers looking for things like the number of people who were prescribed an opioid in a specific geographic area, or how many people in a region have received immunizations.

Growth mode

When Rosow joined Diameter, it was a product but not a company, he said. So he and D'Amore spent two years refining the concept, and gaining some early investors, before Rosow began reaching out to other investors he'd worked with at his first company. The two bootstrapped operations for two years before entering UConn's TIP program in 2015.

By 2016, Diameter Health was a full-fledged startup, Rosow said, and gained its first customer in the Kansas Health Information Exchange. Diameter earned $250,000 in revenue that year, and raised $2 million in venture funds.

Now, about three years since they moved into TIP's offices, Diameter is the big man on campus, taking up six offices there, said Nicole Baccaro, TIP's program manager.

"Diameter is definitely one of our most mature companies," Baccaro said. "They're one of the companies that's actually revenue-generating."

TIP considers companies that operate for at least two years to be successful, a metric Diameter has well surpassed, Baccaro said.

Rosow declined to reveal Diameter's current revenue figures, other than to say it has grown "11-fold." The company recently announced partnerships with five health information exchanges, including ClinicalConnect Health Information Exchange, Indiana Health Information Exchange, Health Current, Quality Health Network and HEALTHeLINK.

As Diameter prepares to move out of TIP's offices by the end of the year, Rosow is looking to expand the company's customer base.

"We've actually not gone after the provider market — like the health systems — directly, yet," Rosow said, adding that health insurers are another untapped market.

While it's not necessarily his goal for a larger company to acquire Diameter, Rosow said that if the company continues to grow at its current pace, that's the most likely outcome.

But Rosow also acknowledges that as the head of a startup, to a certain extent, he's just along for the ride. That's like rowing, too.

"All sorts of things that you had planned for, expect or hope for don't always go according to plan," Rosow said. "So, you've got to just be able to manage headwinds and crosswinds and wakes."

Check out a video clip of Eric Rosow's interview at hartfordbusiness.com.