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Entrepreneurs

CEA Health Care Winner: Tech Helps Fight Fatal Infection

By Audrey Elsberry, posted May 3, 2024
HEALTH CARE | Predicate HPG | Morris Nguyen, Founder & CEO, & Kody Roza, Co-Founder & COO | Year Founded: 2020 | Employees: 12 (Photo by Madeline Gray)
After medical school, most graduates move on to residency and specialization in the medical field. Morris Nguyen went into technology instead.

Upon earning a master’s in business administration and a medical degree from the University of Michigan, Nguyen worked for medical device companies such as Edwards Lifesciences and Teleflex.

“I really thought I could serve patients better through technology,” he said.

The intersection of medicine and technology sits at the core of Nguyen’s biotech startup, Predicate Healthcare Performance Group (HPG).

Predicate uses a chest sensor to aid health care workers in detecting signs of sepsis. Sepsis is a deadly reaction to infection in the body. But the signs of this condition are difficult to diagnose and easy to miss, Nguyen said.

Sepsis can present in many forms depending on the patient. Nguyen’s team aims to use Predicate’s product – a mix of the sensor, recorded verbal cues and artificial intelligence monitored by a physician – to catch early signs of sepsis regardless of the form.

“There is an algorithm in the software that looks at arrhythmias because arrhythmias detection is important for sepsis,” he said. “And then we also look at respiratory rate and temperature. That’s all from just that one chest sensor.”

The company started as a consulting firm in 2018, Nguyen said. It transformed into its current form in March of 2023. He and his co-founder, Kody Roza, pivoted the company using what they had learned as medical consultants.

With its renewed focus, Nguyen and Roza have traveled around the world, speaking in South America, Asia, Europe and Africa. Closer to home, Predicate was selected for several regional pitch competitions, such as CED Venture Connect and NC Biotech Venture Challenge.

After pitching Predicate to a room of other entrepreneurs and investors, Nguyen said people have one of two reactions: They either know someone who has gone through sepsis and note how important his technology is, or they did not know sepsis was a big issue in the health care field.

Nguyen’s ability to grow and scale a technology business in Wilmington is a testament to the region’s mounting influence as a technology and health care hub. Being a part of an early-stage ecosystem with such potential is exciting, he said.

The Predicate team has big plans for 2024. To diversify the training data for the AI model embedded in its software, Nguyen is traveling to five countries across five continents. He traveled to Chile in April and plans to visit Ghana, Ireland and the Philippines. He will also continue to train the model in the U.S.

“It’s our responsibility as AI tech developers to train our models on the most heterogenous diverse patient cohorts possible,” Nguyen said. “And also, it allows us to show the world what we’re creating and how we can impact health care delivery.

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