Startup Milwaukee launches business-startup partnership series

EmOpti and Aurora to discuss collaborative health care technology


Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:04 pm

Startup Milwaukee is launching a new event series aimed at highlighting and forming partnerships between established businesses and startup companies.

“The goal of Startup Milwaukee Ignition is to highlight how companies are working strategically with startups to help startups build sustainable businesses in Wisconsin and to highlight their involvement in the startup community,” while potentially fueling corporate innovation, said Matt Cordio, president of Startup Milwaukee.

At the inaugural Ignition event on Nov. 9, established Milwaukee-based health care provider Aurora Health Care Inc. and Brookfield-based health technology startup EmOpti Inc. will discuss their collaboration on emergency room triage technology.

Mike Rodgers, director of strategic innovation at Aurora and Dr. Edward Barthell, founder and chief executive officer of EmOpti, will explain how they partnered to develop a tele-health system used by doctors to remotely assess patients in three Aurora emergency rooms.

The goal of the platform is to reduce patient wait times at increasingly crowded emergency rooms and get some preliminary tests started before the patient sees a doctor in person, Barthell said.

“It kind of gets the whole process going instead of having that frustrating waiting process for hours upfront,” he said. “We rolled it out over the course of the last year plus. Now, we’re planning to roll it out to multiple emergency departments across their whole system.”

Already, in its first year of usage at just three Aurora ERs, 50,000 remote consults have been performed using the technology, Barthell said.

Aurora was one of EmOpti’s first clients when the company was formed two-and-a-half years ago, and the company now has launched at three other health care systems nationwide. The software costs between $50,000 and $500,000, depending on the system’s size and ER census.

“We came up with this as one of the solutions to help with the problem of crowding in emergency departments, which is a problem across the country,” Barthell said.

EmOpti has raised a total of $5 million from angel and strategic investors to fund its growth, he said. It has nine employees, with plans to add at least three more this year.

Barthell, an emergency room doctor, previously founded EMSystems LLC, which develops web-based health care information management solutions. That company was ultimately sold to Intermedix Corp. in 2010.

Ignition will be held quarterly. The first event will be held during Milwaukee Startup Week, on Nov. 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. at PKWARE, 201 E. Pittsburgh Ave., #400 in Milwaukee. Admission is free and includes beer and pizza. Register at

“We feel like established companies can be catalysts for startups and we hope to see more established companies get involved in helping build the next generation of businesses in Wisconsin,” Cordio said.

Startup Milwaukee is a program of Milwaukee technology talent recruitment company Skills Pipeline. It hosts a monthly Emerge series highlighting Milwaukee-area startup companies, as well as a quarterly Showcase, a demonstration expo for startups. Other Skills Pipeline programs include Wisconsin Startup Week and Code + Craft Brews.

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