This interoperability-focused startup was founded by 3 former Epic engineers

Niko Skievaski left Verona, Wis.-based Epic in 2013. James Lloyd left the same year, and Luke Bonney left the following February. Together, they founded a new Madison, Wis.-based startup — Redox — aimed at solving healthcare's interoperability challenge.

Dubbed "the modern API for healthcare," Redox's interoperable network enables healthcare organizations, payers, pharmaceutical companies, technology providers and more to share data with each other. "Anyone who connects to Redox is technically interoperable," says Mr. Skievaski, co-founder and president of Redox.

Redox now boasts 30 employees and scooped up $9 million in investor funding in January — but the company's founders went on a long journey to go from Epic engineers to get to where they are today.

Although the three entrepreneurs met each other while working at Epic, they had never worked closely or on the same team. However, they each happened to be working on separate side projects outside of work. Mr. Skievaski left Epic to expand his side project, which evolved into Breadcrumbs, a question and answer platform for gaining information on health IT-related topics.

After Mr. Skievaski left Epic in 2013 and joined the Madison startup ecosystem, he noticed a trend. "I shockingly saw very few healthcare startups," he says. "I ended up becoming obsessed with that question. There were about 1,200 people who left Epic that year too. I wondered, 'Where are these people?'"

Mr. Skievaski went on to co-found a co-working space in Madison called 100state. Now the largest co-working space in Wisconsin, 100state is a nonprofit that serves as a community and home for entrepreneurs and problem solvers. It was through 100state that Mr. Skievaski met Mr. Lloyd, who was also a member of the nonprofit and is now Redox's chief technology officer.

As time went by, the same question still lingered in Mr. Skievaski's mind: Where are the healthcare startups? "We weren't seeing the healthcare innovation we thought we'd see," he says of himself and Mr. Lloyd. "We thought, 'Now that we have this space and the people, how can we help them focus on healthcare?'"

So they took the co-working space one step further and founded 100health, a health IT think tank and incubator, in a corner of the 100state space. It was at this point in 2014 that Mr. Bonney, who now serves as Redox's CEO, joined the team.

While working with a variety of companies, however, 100health quickly came to a realization. "When we started doing this incubation space, we had six companies we'd need to grow, and all six would need EHR integration," says Mr. Skievaski. Thus, Redox was born. "The six companies were interested in using [the Redox] platform," Mr. Skievaski says. "That was the benefit people cared about." 100health then shifted its focus and evolved into Redox.

An Epic background
Redox isn't a rare breed due to its Madison headquarters — in fact, Madison is fast becoming a digital health startup hub, due in part to the fact that Epic's headquarters is situated about 10 miles away in Verona. What does make Redox unique is that approximately two-thirds of its 30 employees previously worked at Epic.

Despite leaving the EHR giant, Redox's employees still speak fondly of Epic. "We all loved that environment, and none of us left because we got burnt out or hated it," Mr. Skievaski says. "We were all motivated by the mission. We truly believe that Epic is doing great things."

In fact, Mr. Skievaski, Mr. Lloyd and Mr. Bonney's history with Epic has informed the way they run their new company. "One of the things about Epic is they'll never let a customer fail," Mr. Skievaski says. Redox took that mentality and engrained it into its own culture. "We'll never sacrifice current product development for new customers over old customers," Mr. Skievaski says. "That's a cultural thing that comes from Epic."

Additionally, as Mr. Skievaski notes, Redox's platform is complimentary to Epic's software.

Looking ahead
Redox's origins lie in innovation, and its founders hope to expand that idea even more moving forward. According to Mr. Skievaski, healthcare technology is rapidly evolving. The first wave of technology was EHR adoption, he says. The second involves the widespread use of technology apps to engage patients. "How do we better engage patients? That's where we're at today," Mr. Skievaski says. But he notes there's still a third wave coming that involves using technology as a business strategy to become more effective.

Regardless of where health IT goes next, Redox will continue to use its innovation roots to advance the field. "We don't have an innovation problem in healthcare — we have an adoption problem," Mr. Skievaski says. "That's a lot of the motivation around Redox. If we can streamline the innovation, we should be able to take down a barrier."

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