How accel-EQ ensures that patients and providers are no longer overwhelmed or overlooked
accel-EQ is the premier digital healthcare platform for medical providers.
Accel-EQ automates medical documentation using machine learning and artificial intelligence to increase efficiency and eliminate wasted time, allowing providers to spend more time on their patients.
Growing up raised by first-generation parents from the Dominican Republic and Ecuador, Fuentes was raised with the idea that the “right” career path involved getting a degree and working for a single company until retirement.
“My father wanted me to get an education,” Fuentes said. “There was never any entrepreneurial type of encouragement. And when I really got out into the world, I ultimately joined the military, and then that even enforced those beliefs more. It just really prolonged and … suppressed my desire [for entrepreneurship], and that thing inside of me that said, I’m meant for more than what I’m seeing, or experiencing now.” — Omar Fuentes, Co-Founder & CEO of accel-EQ
Fuentes would find his identity as an entrepreneur after his time in Corporate America, his service in the Marines, and his family’s health all came to a head and inspired him to create accel-EQ.
Fuentes’ choice to start a company in the healthcare sector came naturally after his own loved ones faced obstacles in obtaining proper and timely medical aide.
“I had experienced personal issues from my father not getting the care that he needed after he had a stroke, and then ultimately passing away” Fuentes said. “My brother committed suicide because he didn’t have clear access to quality care. And then during that same time, my wife was experiencing some significant health issues.”
Fuentes’ wife went undiagnosed with her health concerns for two years, enduring countless tests and seeing dozens of physicians, all to report that they couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong.
These scenarios aren’t uncommon. According to a 2022 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 1 in 18 patients who go to U.S. emergency rooms every year are misdiagnosed. Add on to that the disparity for the Latinx population, with nearly half of Hispanic Americans reporting negative health care experiences and/or difficulties getting proper care, and the odds of being unseen or misdiagnosed are much higher.
Fuentes knew that the physicians evaluating his wife weren’t lacking in experience or care, and eventually started to see the obstacle between physicians, patients, and proper diagnosing and treatment.
“When you peel the layers of the onion back, every single one of the physicians that she saw did the exact same thing,” Fuentes said. “They didn’t look at her medical record, [they] asked her for her perspective, tried to treat her on the spot, and ultimately didn’t utilize the technology that was available to them.”
Fuentes found that the physicians his wife visited were often required to put everything into an electronic health record (EHR), but most often, never used those EHRs due to the lack of time for them to be onboarded to new technologies in between patients.
“That’s the reason why I started accel-EQ,” Fuentes said. “We needed to take the burden off [of the physicians]. It wasn’t that physicians were trying to neglect their patients. They were just inundated with so much pressure to handle their core competency of diagnosis and treatment on top of managing their people, insurance, and all of the new technology they’re required to pivot to. We at AccelEQ wanted to get to the core issue and say, ‘How can we remove those burdens so that they can focus more on patient care?’”
accel-EQ captures and automates transcriptions, so that when a patient and a provider have an appointment or interaction, whether through telemedicine or in-person, those conversations are all being captured. It utilizes machine learning to identify the specific medical terminology in a conversation for greater accuracy, and once medical terms have been properly identified, accel-EQ utilizes natural language processing to take that terminology and categorize it.
“The reason why that’s so important is because now we’ve laid the foundation to be able to leverage that data to be used much more efficiently,” Fuentes said. “We segregate [the data] into very specific categories that’s then used for notes for the physician, which they’re required to have. And then we also use it to extract medical codes that are necessary for treatments, diagnoses, prescriptions, and for the use by insurance companies.”
accel-EQ stands for “accelerate efficiency and quality,” and after successfully building a startup to do that in the medical arena, Fuentes decided to find his community in the VC world by applying for Visible Hands’ and Google for Startups’ fellowship for Latinx founder, VHLX.
Fuentes applied for VHLX after it’s announcement and launch in Summer 2022.
“I was looking for a program like this,” Fuentes said. “I applied because I thought it would be cool if I could be around some other Latin founders. And if we’re doing really good things, and they’re only allowing a small cohort, hopefully, it will be something that that will really, truly provide value.”
The Latinx founders accepted into VHLX received guidance and support from the Visible Hands and Google For Startups teams to hit their next major startup milestone. Google For Startups granted each of the cohort’s entrepreneurs with $10K in non-dilutive funding to financially empower them to work on their startups, and Visible Hands provided company-building services over the course of the program, as well as wellness programming and events to ensure members balanced their health with their startups.
“It has been an emotional and beautiful process for me,” said Yulkendy Valdez, Visible Hands Product Manager & VHLX Lead. “Prior to being at Visible Hands, I was a founder myself. As an Afro-Latina, immigrant, and first-time founder who grew up in the midwest, I understand firsthand how important access to funding and resources is in the venture-backed tech ecosystem. VHLX is only the beginning, and we are excited to expand the work moving forward for Latinx tech entrepreneurs.”
Fuentes was accepted into VHLX alongside 19 other Latinx founders, and spent 20 weeks heads-down, working to further grow accel-EQ in a community of founders from similar backgrounds and cultures as his own.
“I was just really hopeful that it would be nice to be part of a community of other Latin founders and that we could just support each other,” Fuentes said. “Because I know that we’re hitting obstacles that others aren’t, and it was purposeful, as to what real obstacles we face as being people of color, [of being] different than the ‘norm’ that you’re seeing constantly in this entrepreneurial and VC world. When I joined, I was blown away by the value that VHLX had provided for me.”
In building accel-EQ, Fuentes and his team conducted research on the common problems and obstacles affecting both patients and their physicians to come up with the best solution for improving patient care.
“We looked at the data — we saw patients have to wait way too long to see their doctors.” Fuentes said.
This problem often led to patients using urgent care as their form of chronic care management rather than one-off, urgent needs those clinics are intended for.
According to this 2022 Pew Research Study, about 30% of Latinx adults have not seen a health care provider in the last 12 months. 32% of Latinx adults don’t even have a primary care provider.
Fuentes also found that while many people were being misdiagnosed or delayed on doctor visits, the technology to fix those specific problems already existed. The overarching issue was the lack of time for physicians to properly adopt these new technologies.
“We looked at enterprise technology that was out there today and we saw that they were essentially just kind of adding to the issues,” Fuentes said. “Unfortunately, they weren’t really solving the problems — they were saying, ‘Hey, we know you have all this technology, so let’s slap on another layer.’ And then the medical providers were all having to become new product managers on top of their regular roles. The technologies out there were not working together.”
Fuentes created accel-EQ to support the medical workflow, rather than compete for time within it. Through the team’s customer discovery calls and demos, they started to see that their solution would actually help to resolve the overarching problem for both physicians and patients.
“We realized we just needed to refine the platform, bring in other technologies together, and then present one big solution to providers so that they can go back to focusing on patient care.”
HOW WAS VHLX A CATALYST FOR GROWTH
VHLX worked to provide its founders like Fuentes with a true sense of community and support, something that is still lacking in the VC space for Latinx founders. According to Crunchbase, Latinx founders in the U.S. still received less than 2% of overall venture capital funding in 2022, a decrease from 2.5% in 2021.
Fuentes found his community in VHLX, even among founders outside his startup’s industry. Because of their shared foundations and backgrounds, Fuentes felt more comfortable being able to ask for help, offer his own support, and creating authentic connections.
Fuentes also shared his appreciation for the direct support and encouragement both the Visible Hands and Google for Startups staff offered the founders.
“The the enthusiasm and openness to help us out, and the constant encouragement and acknowledgement — as Latin founders, it was so refreshing,” Fuentes said. “And it the mentors were honored to be with us. It wasn’t like in every other type of program or meetings where everybody else was on their high horse. Everyone was always willing to help. I loved being a part [of the cohort]; [the mentors] just made time to be there for us and they understood our struggles. It was just completely eye opening.”
Fuentes highlighted the ability for the cohort to support each other while being remote, since the programming was a virtual-first program.
“Everybody has been extremely open to supporting [one another.] Even over Slack, being able to just have real quick chats, I was able to help out my fellow cohort members when they were asking specific questions about their startups and also when they needed encouragement and help through difficult times. Those are the things that stood out to me.”
While Visible Hands and Google For Startups worked towards making VHLX as impactful as possible for the cohort members, Valdez noted that it was members like Omar whose drive and essence truly helped to make it a supportive and memorable experience.
“Omar is poise, genuine, and assertive,” Valdez said. “His characteristics personify that of an ideal founder. He has tremendous expertise in the healthcare space, but at the end of the day, what drives him is his family and making sure patients of all backgrounds have a higher-quality medical experience.”
If there’s one thing Fuentes has learned through his entire entrpreneurship journey so far, it’s the importance of resilience.
“The entrepreneurship process will have you go through one obstacle after another,” Fuentes said. “Because once you get through your biggest obstacle, and another one’s coming, you have to build yourself to withstand some significant blows. Having said that, it doesn’t mean you won’t have moments or times of weakness and questioning, your abilities or whether you made the right choice or not.”
Valdez always started VHLX meetings with a emotional check-in to help support this idea of building founder resilience, creating space for founders to share how they were feeling and what they were currently going through.
“It was nice to be seen as not just an entrepreneur, but as a human being,” Fuentes said. “It allowed us to express ourselves, which I found to be far more helpful than I anticipated. Hearing other people talk about going through ups and downs and turmoils and how they had to overcome that, on top of being able to have access to mentors and saying, it was fresh. It helped me refocus on what I really need to do that day, at the stage of the company that I’m at, knowing that I had the community that I would be able to share issues with, without judgement. It’s a phenomenal community to be a part of now.”
accel-EQ recently signed a new deal with a national telemedicine company in order to work across over dozen facilities that they service across the country and 90,000 physicians. They are also currently looking for more Beta customers. You can learn more about accel-EQ and sign up as a Beta user here.