Kristen Valdes knew her daughter, Bailey, hadn’t received the right diagnosis. And, even though Valdes was a healthcare executive with a deep understanding of the industry, convincing doctors of it took her seven years, multiple misdiagnoses, expensive procedures and a near-fatal drug interaction.
The realization that her family’s experience was not uncommon is what led Valdes to found b.well Connected Health. The digital platform aggregates all of a person’s health data—including medical records, pharmacies, lab results, wearables and insurance—in one location accessible by the individual and shareable with anyone they designate. Then it analyzes the information to deliver personalized care recommendations, such as alerting the user to schedule an overdue lab test.
“I didn’t make the decision to want to lead an organization one day. When my daughter got sick, I just felt passionate that I knew how to solve this problem,” Valdes said, adding, “Data is not an asset that companies should have the right to own. Health data is personal and should be accessible to the person it matters to most: the individual.”
Born in Baltimore
Valdes has also been open about the challenges women entrepreneurs face across her industries. “There are a lot of gender barriers that exist in startups, in healthcare, and in technology,” she said. “I am quite often the only female pitching to a room full of investors or am asked questions that my male counterparts would not get asked such as, ‘What does your husband do?’”
Those challenges have not daunted b.well. In early 2020, the organization raised $16 million in funding through an effort led by UnityPoint Health Ventures, bringing b.well’s total funding to $27 million. In addition, b.well has won multiple awards, such as “Top Innovator” in the 2019 Accenture HealthTech Innovation Challenge, and Valdes has been recognized as a 40 Under 40 Healthcare Innovator, one of Maryland’s Most Admired CEOs, and one of only four 2020 “Women Transforming Industries,” selected by Accenture and Springboard Enterprises.