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The Pharmacy Business and People’s Access to Prescriptions During COVD-19 [Podcast]

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Peachtree Pharm

How did one pharmacy owner navigate COVID-19 and still provide access to medicine for their clients? Dr. April Hang, owner of Peachtree Pharmacy joins Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini on the Capitalist Sage.

Phone Number: (678) 691-9079
Address: 5270 Peachtree Parkway, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092
Website: https://www.peachtreerx.com/
Social Media: @PeachtreePharmacy

Timestamp, where is the podcast to find these topics:
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:02:33] – About Dr. April Hang
[00:04:21] – What Makes Peachtree Pharmacy Different
[00:06:09] – Business Impact of COVID
[00:11:52] – Getting into the Pharmacy Business
[00:16:02] – Dealing with Insurance
[00:17:01] – The Future of Pharmacy
[00:27:53] – Balancing Business and Home Life
[00:28:37] – Closing

We (work) for local patients and that way, you know, we can manage and keep that close
relationship as if they’re a family. Make sure everything’s okay.”

April Hang

Podcast transcript:

Karl: [00:00:30] Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and
tips from seasoned pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with
Transworld Business Advisors and my cohost is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets Digital
Marketing and he is the publisher of Peachtree Corners Magazine. Hey Rico.

Rico: [00:00:47] Hey Karl, great to be here. We might as well jump right into it and I’ll tell you
about our lead sponsor for the show, for the family of podcasts. And that lead sponsor is
Hargray Fiber. They are a large Southeast company involved in fiber optic cable, internet
connectivity. Don’t think of the cable guy because they’re not that. They’re a company that’s
right in the communities that they serve and providing variety of services, including that
connectivity to your team that’s out in the field teleworking. They provide it whether you’re a
small business or you’re an enterprise sized business. And they provide tools like smart office
that can keep your team working, both whether they’re in office or they’re out there at home,
wherever they are working for you and getting sales done and getting work done. So check
them out HargrayFiber.com or Hargray.com/Business, and find out how you can get your
thousand dollar gift card, visa gift card from them once you get involved with the company. So
we want to thank them for being our sponsor.

Karl: [00:01:51] It’s funny how so many people are operating from home, learning from home.
And so having great internet and fiber optics is super critical. So thank you for Hargray Fiber for
supporting us. Today I am honored to have Dr. April Hang who is the owner of Peachtree
Pharmacy right here in Peachtree Corners and Gwinnett County, Georgia. We’re gonna
continue on our series, talking with small business owners about navigating through 2020, the
pandemic and all the things that have been happening in our community. Dr. Hang, how are you
doing today?

Dr. Hang: [00:02:27] I’m good. Thank you for having me on the show. I appreciate and feel
honored to be here.

Karl: [00:02:33] Well, I’m just happy to have you. And the fact that you’re in the medical health
field of operating a business here is really important considering what this year has been like.
Why don’t you start off by introducing, tell us a little bit about yourself and why you got into
pharmacy career.

Dr. Hang: [00:02:52] Well, I worked at CVS as a high school student. And I saw the pharmacist
and you know, it intrigued me to see these crazy names and what they treat. So I just kept
wanting to learn more. Then I got into pharmacy school at Virginia Commonwealth University
and graduated in 2002. We moved to Atlanta in 2009, when my second child was born and I
continued working for CVS and when I was pregnant with my third child in 2011, that’s when I
said, okay, I’m just going to open my own business because I’m just tired of all the red tape.

Karl: [00:03:37] I could imagine so many people go through that same journey in opening their
business. What made you choose this area to open it and what do you find, what do you find
that you like most about being your own business owner?

Dr. Hang: [00:03:50] I actually got into business so I can have more time for the kids and more
flexibility. So I wanted to be able to have a stable income and have the flexibility to be there for
the kids. So it’s, you know, I knew initially it was going to be more time consuming, but then, you
know, as time passes it’s, you know, it’s a lot better now.

Karl: [00:04:12] Yeah, no, I appreciate that. Are your kids here locally? How many kids do you
have?

Dr. Hang: [00:04:18] I have three children.

Karl: [00:04:21] Very good. Well, it’s so cool to be part of the community that you’re in. So you’re
operating you live in the community as part of that. Often people aren’t as familiar with some of
the independent pharmacy. I wonder if you could share with us some of the things that make
your pharmacies different than some of the chains like CVS, Walgreens and others.

Dr. Hang: [00:04:42] We compound at Peachtree Pharmacy, which is the biggest difference,
which is making customized medications for you or your pets or animals that you have. A lot of
the compounding we do right now is hormone replacement therapy and vet meds. So that’s one
main difference. We also do blister packaging, which I’m sure you guys have heard that Pillpack
was bought by Amazon and they’re trying to do blister packaging. We do that for local patients
and that way, you know, we can manage and keep that close relationship as if they’re a family.
Make sure everything’s okay, put in the right time position of their blister packs. So I don’t know
if you’re familiar with what I’m talking about.

Karl: [00:05:30] No, I am a little bit, but it’d be interesting. Have you seen more need recently for
being able to provide that more customized service to your customers?

Dr. Hang: [00:05:45] It really depends on where they’re living. If they’re in a personal care home,
then they, it’s mandatory that they get blister packaging. If you’re still living at home, it’s a
personal choice to have that convenience. So you’re not filling your medicine tray yourself. So
that’s an advantage that we have.

Karl: [00:06:09] Excellent. Well, I’m curious to ask you a little bit about this year and when the
news of the pandemic started coming out. When did you first hear about it? And did you think it
was going to have an impact on your business initially?

Dr. Hang: [00:06:27] I actually did have an impact as far as PPP goes at the beginning. We had
a program where it would upload things onto Google saying we had certain things like M95
masks. So we had a lot of questions about M95 masks and, you know, hand sanitizers and
things like that initially. We also have increased deliveries now since the COVID and then
patients are asking me to go outside and give them their flu shots in their cars so they don’t
have to come in and interact.

Karl: [00:07:07] So, since this all started, where did your, probably your physical center in the
central service, did you close down at any point during?

Dr. Hang: [00:07:17] We did not. We just put procedures in place. Started requiring masks, just
following the CDC guidelines. There were people that, you know, embraced it and there are, of
course, people that are not embracing it or they’re against wearing masks.

Karl: [00:07:33] So now that it’s kind of normalized to some degree, if you want to call it that, are
there changes you’ve made in your business that because of this, that you’ve implemented,
that’s had an impact either on your employees or your customers?

Dr. Hang: [00:07:51] I don’t really feel like that it’s been impacted much. I mean, we did, like I
said, put up the plexiglass and made social distancing and one entrance and one exit. But as far
as the business goes, it’s been pretty stable. You know, depending on what’s coming out in the
news about COVID, sometimes they would say something about azithromycin so then all of a
sudden there’ll be a back order of that because it gets in the news or Plaquenil. You know, just
certain things, whatever the news says and all the physicians, they try to write for themselves,
you know, write for their families.

Rico: [00:08:40] As far as supply chain goes, were you finding yourself in need of certain
medicines or in short supply of certain things besides the masks and stuff like that.

Dr. Hang: [00:08:51] I know there was a shortage on Plaquenil for a while and azithromycin
because that’s the main two things they’re using to treat in the hospitals. But I think it’s
normalized now so we can compound it. I do have the powder where we can actually make the
Plaquenil in capsules.

Karl: [00:09:13] It’s going to ask for those, what are those used for? What are the treatments
for?

Dr. Hang: [00:09:18] Azithromycin is an antibiotic. And then the Plaquenil is for like auto immune
usually like lupus. And this type of inflammation, auto immune diseases.

Rico: [00:09:33] So most medications, most prescriptions that have been coming to you, though,
you’ve been able to fill and all that? Pain medications, other things along those lines.

Dr. Hang: [00:09:43] Right, right. Yes.

Karl: [00:09:46] So I’m curious as you follow what’s happening with vaccines and some of the
treatments and therapies coming out, how do you prepare your pharmacy for an anticipated
demand when different drugs are, you know, getting approved or being, how do you manage
that process? What information and sources do you use to know what you need to have in
stock?

Dr. Hang: [00:10:12] We just follow the CDC guidelines. So whatever comes out, we try to follow
that. As far as like sources of medications or vaccines, everything is pending, so there’s no
nothing really credible out there. So I can’t really comment on it.

Karl: [00:10:30] It got it. Testing. Do you get involved with the testing that they’ve been talking
about?

Dr. Hang: [00:10:36] We do not test at the pharmacy. There’s a little bit of fear with the staff, so
we don’t test. You know, they have small babies and families or their parents live with them. So,
you know, they have their, their personal consent, so I don’t enforce it. But I just make sure they
let the patients know where they can go and get access. I know that, you know, I have a contact
that can come out. They have a mobile bus and they’ll do both the nasal swab and the serology
test. And the difference is one tells you, you have it. And one tells you, if you had it.

Rico: [00:11:17] So antibodies you’re talking about or is that something else?

Dr. Hang: [00:11:19] Right. Correct.

Rico: [00:11:21] And there’s a place that does that here in Peachtree Corners even?

Dr. Hang: [00:11:25] Well, I can, I mean, I’m trying to get them to come out on, the mobile bus.
It’s actually with Dr. Heavenly Kimes and her husband, Dr. Damon Kimes. So, and yeah, they
are local and they’re reality TV people as well.

Rico: [00:11:44] We are in the reality show ourselves, right.

Karl: [00:11:52] This whole year feels like it’s been part of a reality show. For young people out
there that are thinking about businesses and careers to go with, what are some of the reasons
people might go into pharmacy, either owning or becoming a pharmacist?

Dr. Hang: [00:12:10] There’s so many different parts to the industry that people don’t know
about. There’s working for pharmacy manufacturers and you can be a medical science liaison
between, you know, the public or the hospitals and the pharmaceutical company. There’s PBMs,
pharmacy benefit management organizations that handle your insurance and tell you what
you’re going to pay for or not pay for. You can work for those companies. You can work for
wholesalers as pharmacists. The hospital, obviously, different areas of the hospital. And then
there’s something called closed door pharmacy, where they deam a list of packaging just for
senior facilities. There’s a lot of different avenues.

Karl: [00:12:56] What’s a good way for folks to get started if they wanted. If I was a young
person or if you were advising younger folks, high school, college, what are some things they
can do to start getting experience, to see if it’s a right fit for them?

Dr. Hang: [00:13:09] I know personally for me, we have students come in and ask to volunteer,
but there are some state regulations where you have to be minimum age 18 to actually be in the
pharmacy. You have to register with the state just to be a pharmacy technician. And once
you’re registered, then you can come behind the counter and kind of shadow and learn. You
know, I would just recommend finding a local independent pharmacy that would take, you know,
take you as a student or as a shadow.

Karl: [00:13:44] How was the prospect in the industry? Is there a shortage? Is there excess?
Trying to find people, has it been difficult?

Dr. Hang: [00:13:54] It’s actually excess in pharmacists at this time. So, you know, jobs are a
little bit harder to find. You know, people are graduating and then the salaries are going down
because of the abundance of pharmacies schools letting out students.

Karl: [00:14:11] What do you think drove that? Is driving that?

Dr. Hang: [00:14:15] When I went to pharmacy school, there was a shortage. So as time went
on, more schools opened up and you know, they started producing more students. And now it’s
just an overabundance of pharmacists.

Rico: [00:14:31] Do you think that, if someone wants to get into the business, right? The
pharmacy business, it’s intensive, I’m sure, investment to get into it. Besides you need someone
that’s licensed to do it.

Dr. Hang: [00:14:43] Right.

Rico: [00:14:44] Does it have to be owner licensed to be able to get into this business?

Dr. Hang: [00:14:48] No. You don’t have to be a pharmacist to be an owner of a pharmacy.
Rico: [00:14:54] Okay. And you’ve bee, I mean, Peachtree Pharmacy has been around for how
long has it been now?

Dr. Hang: [00:15:00] Six years now, since I opened the store.

Rico: [00:15:03] Remember we used to go to CVS and there was some issues about getting
how CVS handles certain types of medications and inventory. Unlike retail, they do not track
their inventory and they can’t even let you know they have certain things unless you come into
the store to ask them. So this is one reason we decided to come to Peachtree Pharmacy
because, it’s just we felt that we were talking to someone closer. More assistant. And it was just
a better experience. No drive-through, but that’s okay. You have to be aggravated with…

Dr. Hang: [00:15:40] Well, we come outside. Even though we don’t have a drive through, I’ve
been outside to bring people their prescriptions.

Rico: [00:15:49] And you guys deliver too.

Dr. Hang: [00:15:50] Yes. If it’s a parent and your child is sleeping in the back they’ll say, bring
my medicine outside. Like of course, no problem. So yeah.

Karl: [00:16:02] Well, what’s something about the business of pharmacy, that most people
wouldn’t know, realize about it. Is there anything that could make it surprising to folks?

Dr. Hang: [00:16:13] I think that the amount of time we actually spend on the phone with the
insurances, trying to get you your medicine is the most challenging thing. Just because a
physician writes for something doesn’t mean your insurance is going to pay for it. So then that
becomes an issue. It could be two, three days before you get your meditation. You’re just
coming out of the hospital and you might rebound and go back into the hospital so you had your
medication? So there’s, it’s just insurance is making everybody’s life hell.

Rico: [00:16:45] Yeah, and some of them will cover the generic, but not the brand right? And
some people want the brand versus the generic because they feel maybe the brand works
better, right?

Dr. Hang: [00:16:56] Right. But you’re not allowed to have that choice with insurances.

Karl: [00:17:01] So you managed to keep track. So now that 2020 is kind of continuing, I’m
curious about looking forward to the future. Do you see things that you can do differently or, as
you go into the future with your business?

Dr. Hang: [00:17:19] I think I learned, since a couple of years ago, I had a senior coming in my
store, this is somebody’s grandmother, somebody’s aunt, sister, cousin, you know. And she
handed me a prescription for marijuana. And it said a ratio of 1 to 30. And it’s one dropper at
that time for dementia. And I didn’t know how to help her. And I felt so bad when I can’t help
someone, I feel really awful. So, I got on the phone. Put her son on the phone who was in
California and he was really upset and he’s like, where can I send her to get this? She really
needs, it helps her stay at home by herself, it helps her with her daily activities or activities of
daily living and things like that. And I was like, all I could do was apologize and say I don’t have
an answer for you because we’re in the Bible belt. You’re out in California. It’s different.
Karl: [00:18:27] So, what is, are you able to, provide CBD or medical marijuana here in
Georgia?
Dr. Hang: [00:18:35] Medical marijuana is not accessible. CBD is very accessible anywhere and
you can get it from gas stations, to the smoke shops and, Peachtree pharmacy. You have to
educate yourself. You have to understand what the effects are. It can interact with your
medications, you know. Depending on how much you use, there’s the risk of having a positive
drug test. So it’s just, you have to be able to educate your patients on the proper use.
Karl: [00:19:14] Where would folks would go to learn more about that? Like, let’s get educated
on some of the benefits. What treatments for that? Is that a conversation with the physician?
Are there online sources for information?
Dr. Hang: [00:19:28] Honestly, I am on this thing right now where I want to educate other health
care professionals about it. Because most of them don’t really know. I mean, there’s so much
out there. There’s a DNA test you can do to let you know what ratio is best for what condition.
So they have that for, you know, general, big pharma medications, but they also have it for the
CBD and PAC as well.
Karl: [00:19:55] So does the doctor have to write a script for that or is that something people can
come in and get without a prescription from a doctor?
Dr. Hang: [00:20:05] They can come in and get it at Peachtree pharmacy. It’s just a, it’s actually
a cheek swab and it’s from a company called Endocanna out in California, Los Angeles. And so,
kind of met them at a conference and kind of partnered up. Because I wanted to be able to offer
a kind of service for all the patients not just big pharma meds. But offer, you know, all the
benefits of CBD that’s emerging on market right now.
Rico: [00:20:36] And April, you’ve been involved with some of the politicians in the area too,
right. Lobbying, but so bunch of legislative work. So who have you been working with and how
is that going?
Dr. Hang: [00:20:49] I actually am not officially a lobbyist. I’m officially a constituent. So when I
go there, I’m going for me personally, as a pharmacist and not representing any company. But
you know, the intentions I have to help people. So when they were talking about access to
medical marijuana, I did speak and say, you know, you have to have pharmacists involved,
make sure that they review everybody’s meds because there are drug interactions. And, you
know, they don’t teach you that in pharmacy school. All the knowledge I have, it’s stuff I’ve read
or just learned about.
Rico: [00:21:28] Really? They don’t teach you about it?
Dr. Hang: [00:21:31] They don’t teach you about Marijuana in pharmacy school.
Karl: [00:21:37] Not in the classroom. So what types of treatments or things that people are
coming in for CBD and similar?
Dr. Hang: [00:21:53] We have like this CBD oil. I don’t know if you can see.
Rico: [00:21:59] Is that peach?
Dr. Hang: [00:22:01] Yes. It’s peach relief CBD oil that we sell. We have capsules, we have
topicals. We have dog treats, you know. And soon to come we’ll have get goodies products in
the store.
Karl: [00:22:15] What types of conditions does it help with? What types of patients would find
this helpful?
Dr. Hang: [00:22:22] Honestly, any patient. With headaches, depression, anxiety, sleep
deprivation, you know, anything.
Rico: [00:22:33] And you said you do that, you say you do that DNA swab, and that’s supposed
to help with that ratio of medicine that you’re able to apply right?
Dr. Hang: [00:22:46] Right. So in a perfect world where I see the future going is that, you’ll have
this DNA tests and then you have to have more customized medication that works for you
based of your genetics. So you know what your body can process and not process. Because if
you don’t have the enzymes to get rid of the drug in your body, it is the beneficial test. But this
DNA tests are very expensive.
Rico: [00:23:17] Yeah. I don’t think most people realize that. Yeah, most people, if I’m not
incorrect, don’t realize that medicine even antibiotics or mainstream medicine that people hear
about only work on a percentage of people. They’re not, you know, people assume that they’re a
hundred percent effective, but no medicine is that way. And they’re usually, probably only 80%
effective.
Dr. Hang: [00:23:38] Right, right. And your body can only absorb so much. So like on CBD oil, if
you take or consume any kind of CBD product, you only absorb 6%. And I don’t know where I
read that, but that number is in my head.
Karl: [00:23:56] Does it matter, like, you know, proportionate to the size of the person or is it just
their genetics in there.
Dr. Hang: [00:24:02] It’s their genetics, like you have in your body, what they call the
endocannabinoid system. And so that’s CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors. So CB1 receptors is
your central nervous system. And that’s where THC, that’s where the THC usually binds. And
that’s why you have the psychoactive effects. However, with the CB2 receptors, that’s more on
the peripheral, the body and the organs. So if you have some kind of inflammation, they’ll help
you and kind of get back to normal and get to homeostasis.
Karl: [00:24:38] Wow. Well I know there’s been a lot of different folks that are providing that. You
mentioned gas stations and so on and…
Dr. Hang: [00:24:47] Right.
Karl: [00:24:48] Do you know if they’re doing anything to kind of gain greater control because
there could be contamination. There could be, you don’t know what the source is, is some of the
risk that I’ve heard about. Can you tell me a little bit about some of the risk factors of procuring it
in the wrong place?
Dr. Hang: [00:25:06] Well, there’s a lot of mislabeling. I know like if you have a CBD product and
you’re not sure that it says what it says on the bottle, you can actually send it to Georgia
extracts and they’ll test it at UGA and Athens and let you know what’s inside.
Rico: [00:25:27] Because this is not prescribed or anything. There’s no FDA approvals, there’s
no Georgia State quality control of it?
Dr. Hang: [00:25:37] There is the farm bill and that’s just with the hemp flour. But I honestly
haven’t read the entire farm bill, so I couldn’t comment too much on. But I know it’s to help
regulate the actual growing agriculture, like keeping pesticides out of it.
Rico: [00:25:53] Right. Do you see, April, do you see whether, if marijuana becomes legal in the
state of Georgia, at least medicinally legal, if not recreationally legal, do you see that as
something that Peachtree Pharm would be selling? That, you know, alongside the CBD oil and
stuff?
Dr. Hang: [00:26:17] It’s actually in the bill HV324, and you know, when, when the state gets the
infrastructure set up, there’ll be sold at certain specific pharmacies and how they decide that will
happen after they set up the infrastructure for access.
Rico: [00:26:37] Well, so every pharmacy or just certain pharmacies?
Dr. Hang: [00:26:41] My understanding, it’s going to be certain pharmacies. They’re right now,
they just hired an executive director to create the infrastructure for oil. And so once that gets set
up and people start applying and they start growing, while they’re doing the cultivating, they’re
going to decide or the pharmacy is going to decide. Okay who, which pharmacies?
Karl: [00:27:10] I mean, if you look into the future, how big can that industry you think get? I see,
I hear a lot of different, you know, ideas around a widespread, people might use it for all
different applications. Have you thought about how big that could be and how it might impact
your business?
Dr. Hang: [00:27:33] Honestly, it would help people get off their medications. So I mean, if
people would learn a little more about it, they can probably reduce their medications. But they
have to make sure, you know, the doctor knows. The doctor is educated or the pharmacist is
educated or the nurse.
Karl: [00:27:53] Well, I know as we look into the near future, people are being impacted because
kids being home and everything else. How are you balancing all of the demands on you?
Business, your family, have you figured out things to help you manage through this strange
year?
Dr. Hang: [00:28:13] I mean, I, you know, I’m lucky and I have a supportive family. I have my
parents living with me and then my husband is very supportive. So, you know, I’ve been lucky.
I’ve been able to, you know, go back and forth and stay home if I need to. So I’m just home
more. I miss going to the movies.
Karl: [00:28:37] Yeah, I think we all do, but when I hear that they’re starting to open up in some
locations and getting back. But between that, sports being thrown off schedule, I don’t know
what part of the year we’re in sometimes based on all of that. Well, I want to thank you so much
for joining and talking a little bit about, you know, the impacts of the pandemic on your business.
Help educate us a little bit about CBD oil and the alternatives that are available. More than
anything, I consider you and your staff are frontline, first responders. People needed help and
through this year, they needed to get their medications and it’s small business owners like
yourself that I’ve done just a great job of keeping people well as best they can. So if you haven’t
been thought, thank you from one of your clients. I like to do that for that. Well, how would folks
reach out? Why don’t you tell us your address and how they can find you social media phone
number? Just if you want to reach out and learn more.
Dr. Hang: [00:29:55] Our phone number is (678) 691-9079. Our website is
www.PeachTreeRX.com. We’re also on Facebook, under @PeachtreePharmacy, and also
Instagram.
Karl: [00:30:13] And what’s your address and where would we find you here in Peachtree
Corners?
Dr. Hang: [00:30:18] It’s 5270 Peachtree Parkway where the new Lidl that just opened up in that
shopping center.
Karl: [00:30:26] Well, absolutely while we definitely encourage folks to take a visit to Dr. Hang
and her staff, and, you know, just want to thank you again for being on our show today.
Dr. Hang: [00:30:36] Thank you, I appreciate it.
Karl: [00:30:38] You’re welcome and stay safe please. Well, I’d like to just segue into what we
have coming up. We’ve got more of discussions as we talk about the end of 2020. We’re going
to have some podcasts talking about, you know, what do you do now as you’re getting to the
end of the year to grow your business. And so stay tuned, follow us on all of our different
channels. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta Peachtree. Both myself
and the rest of the folks on my team, we help talk to business owners, help them figure out how
to improve and grow their business, whether it’s through acquisition or for those that are ready
to do something else, how to exit their business. Feel free to reach out to us online
www.TWorld.com/AtlantaPeachtree, or you can email me at KBarham@TWorld.com. Rico, why
don’t you tell us about what you have coming up?
Rico: [00:31:41] Sure. We’re working on the next issue of Peachtree Corners magazine. And
we’ve got a strong set of stories, hopefully coming in there. We’re actually doing a pet and their
people issue as well. So we have a giveaway that just started running today and 3 winners,
$700 in prizes. Submit a picture of yourself and your pet, and you’ll probably get into the
Peachtree Corners Magazines next pull out in the next issue. Plus, we’re doing the story about
backyard retreats, you know, everyone’s home there during COVID-19. So if you have a fire pit,
you have a beautiful backyard, we’re checking out five of them in Peachtree Corners and we’ll
share where those are and what they look like. And we’re asking 50 people almost, we’re
asking everyone actually and hopefully we’ll get 50 of them, about what they’re thankful for this
year. Besides, you know, we’re thankful for family and friends, for sure. But what also are we
thankful for during these times. So we want to find that out. Remember, this is the October,
November issue. So we’re doing Halloween and Thanksgiving. Yeah, so that’ll be fun. So we’re
working on that. So if you guys want to check out the last issue, which April was part of that last
issue, she was one of several people we profiled when it came to diversity in our community.
You can find that online at LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. Follow us on
@PeachtreeCornersLife, the Facebook page, where we’re doing these podcasts from. Our
YouTube channel you should subscribe to that as well, because this way you can get alerts
when we go live there and when there’s more videos posted there as well. And you know, I do
work with a lot of different companies handling their social media, video production, whether it’s
product videos or other types of production work, and obviously producing podcasts as well. So
you can check me out at MightyRockets.com for that, or find me on LinkedIn or Google my
name because there aren’t that many people called Rico Figliolini. You can find me anywhere.
Karl: [00:33:39] Well, thank you for all that you do. And please do check out the magazine
online. There might be some still out there to pickup if you haven’t and just keep up with what’s
going on in the community and get to meet and learn the folks that make up your community.
Thank you again, Dr. Hang for joining us today. Everyone have a great day.
Rico: [00:34:01] Thank you.

Continue Reading

Business

How did Brightree Successfully Work with Clients and Manage Employees During COVID-19

Published

on

Brightree's Liz Brown

How did Brightree respond successfully to the pandemic, how did they meet urgent customer needs and what initiatives did they put in place to support employees during this time? Brightree’s Liz Brown joins hosts Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini to discuss this and more. Recorded socially safe in the City of Peachtree Corners, Georgia

Resources:
Website: https://www.brightree.com

Timestamp:
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:02:27] – About Liz and Brightree
[00:03:38] – Initial Response to COVID
[00:05:54] – Employees Working from Home
[00:08:22] – Productivity of Employees
[00:10:24] – Adjustments on the Customer Side
[00:14:49] – Working Through the Summer
[00:18:02] – A New Hiring Process
[00:20:35] – Helping Customers
[00:23:15] – Leaders in Brightree
[00:25:27] – Going Back to the Building
[00:28:02] – Long Term Changes
[00:30:11] – Closing

Prodcast Transcript

Karl: [00:00:30] Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and tips from seasoned pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors, and my co-host is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets Digital Marketing, and the publisher of the Peachtree Corner Magazine. Hey Rico, how are you doing today?

Rico: [00:00:50] Good Karl, how are you?

Karl: [00:00:51] Doing well, doing well. Why don’t you introduce our sponsor for today?

Rico: [00:00:57] Sure. Our lead sponsor is Hargray Fiber. They are a company in the Southeast that provides fiber optic technology and solutions that legacy companies and small businesses can use to be able to do the work that they do out there. They’re involved in the community and they are definitely out there. And they’re not the cable guy. So if you’re looking for fast internet connection, look for a company that can support you, not only in your office and your business, but also your employers that are working off site. Hargray Fiber is the company to go to. So visit HargrayFiber.com/Business, and there’ll be able to work with you. Thanks to them for being our lead sponsor. And I’m going to be playing engineer today. We’re going to let Karl and our special guest today work the half hour of Capitalist Sage.

Karl: [00:01:49] Sounds good. Thank you, Rico. Thank you to Hargray Fiber for continuing supporting both the Capitalist Sage and the community throughout Peachtree Corners. Today it is my honor to have a guest on that can help talk a little bit about her experience and her company’s experience over the past few months as we’ve dealt with this pandemic. Liz Brown is the vice president of customer satisfaction at Brightree, a local software company located right here in Peachtree Corners in Atlanta Tech Park. Liz, how are you doing today?

Liz: [00:02:25] I’m doing great Karl. How are you? Thanks.

Karl: [00:02:27] I’m doing fabulous, thank you so much. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and a little bit about what Brightree does?

Liz: [00:02:35] Sure. At Brightree we’re focused on technology innovation, and we ensure that we provide a stimulating, supportive place for our team members to work while helping our customers run better businesses as they deliver high quality patient care. So we’re actually an industry leading cloud-based healthcare IT company. We provide solutions and services for thousands of out of hospital care providers. And we just recently located our headquarters to Technology Park in Peachtree Corners, December of last year. And with that move, we reinforced our commitment to innovation and collaboration amongst our team. In light of this year’s events, we’re proud of how we’ve executed on that commitment and ways that we’ve helped us keep Brightree a fulfilling, supportive, and stimulating place to work while providing opportunities for local collaborations. So at Brightree, my title is vice president of customer satisfaction. I manage our implementation and customer support teams. But I also lead our facilities teams and we developed a pandemic response plan for Brightree earlier this year.

Karl: [00:03:38] So I’m curious to ask, when the pandemic started, what was your response and your feelings about it and how did you approach it? You and Brightree approach responding to some of the challenges the pandemic brought?

Liz: [00:03:53] So first and foremost, our priority was, and has always been the health, safety, and wellbeing of our employees. We needed to figure out how we could ensure their safety while continuing to keep our customers operational during the time when care and services for our customers was arguably the most important thing ever. So to address it, we really quickly transitioned to work from home, in almost four days actually, and implemented new work streams and strategies that would help our employees excel in the working from home, but also keep the continue of customer support up and running. So some of the things we did, so for example, our executive team started daily huddles on the very first day. And we added in the site leaders from our remote offices to ensure there was an open line of communication as we rolled out our pandemic response plan across Brightree. We use these meetings to raise barriers or concerns that came from the employees. We had employees, for example, who didn’t have internet at home, and we needed to address that. But we also used it to address any concerns that might’ve come from our customers so that we could tackle them swiftly and promptly. And it was from these daily huddles that we have the executive team. We also established an employee engagement team. So we pulled together a group of 20 employees across the company, one representing each department. And they worked with me and our people team leader really closely to provide sort of real-time insight and the pulse what was going on in the day to day amongst the team. And we met with these folks twice monthly and made sure that our pandemic plan that we had in place was working for them, but also that they were engaging with the rest of the organization. So we could get that real-time feedback and direct path right back to the executive team, where there might be areas that we had to address for health, safety, and wellbeing. And we encourage those employee engagement team members to collaborate and create collaboration events with their team. As we all transitioned to working from home.

Karl: [00:05:54] Can I ask a question about, as employees transition to working from home, the informal interactions that people had in the office, what were ways that you were able to help at least close the gap from that, just, you know, working together, the huddles around the coffee. Are there things that you’re able to do to help with that?

Liz: [00:06:17] Yeah, so we did, we established sort of some fun events. So first off we established office hours. So utilizing zoom, which we all had to adapt to, we opened up office hours on Friday afternoon from one to five, and it was an open zoom where people could really just drop in. Like you would’ve dropped in before you might’ve walked by somebody at the coffee machine. You might’ve walked by somebody in the hub getting, you know, a glass of water. Now you just dropped in and everybody knew it was open. So that they could just engage with each other. Over time those became more, a little bit more formal and more fun. So there were happy hours. There were wine tastings and people came up with ways to engage with

each other from home over zoom, of course. But it did sort of try to mimic that whole drop by, how are you kind of thing.

Karl: [00:07:05] Another follow up question on the employee side is, as people had to deal with childcare at home and different work environment, the remote schooling and all of that, were there things that you found people innovated and came up with to navigate the new norms that was happening throughout, you know, March, April, May when this first started?

Liz: [00:07:28] Yeah. And, I’ll tell you, so you know, the wellbeing of the employees was one of the most, was forefront in all our decisions in how we operated and, you know, being that we’re a customer facing organization, what we did is gave the employees the opportunity to manage their workday. So to your point, people with middle-school children had to figure out how to help them get on Zoom to make sure they could get their homework done. But then there were people who were having to adapt to childcare and eldercare and how could they get that done and also get their work done during the day. So we gave them the opportunity to set their work hours so they could adapt both managing their wellbeing from a work perspective, but then also keep those commitments they had to their family. And I think that worked well because when they had those, you know, flexible work hours and were able to adjust their schedule, they could feel like they could balance and get everything done during the day.

Karl: [00:08:22] One of the great things I thought that I saw happening and your, Brightree is a great example of this, companies, corporations had dabbled in this for years. Employee suggestion boxes, they’ve done an install. What the COVID pandemic did, it kind of forced us to make a decisive action, to help people be more able to work and operate from home environments, flexible work schedule. There was always the critique of it in the past that you couldn’t get the same productivity out of your employees, if you let them have more freedom and flexibility, but we were forced into it unfortunately this year. How have you seen the productivity impact on employees during this pandemic? Especially after that first initial wave where we were all in shock of course, but how did it normalize?

Liz: [00:09:14] So I will tell you this, it’s one of the things we’re most proud of the entire Brightree team is our productivity has really been consistent from the day we moved home until today. So yes, we do manage our organization by KPIs and metrics, and we haven’t seen those falter and I think it was providing the employees the flexibility in their schedule. And being able to give them that opportunity to have that wellbeing and being able to take care of themselves and their family, that they were able to maintain the productivity. And we also haven’t seen any dips from a customer satisfaction perspective. You know, we’ve been very consistent. We do use the net promoter score, NPS scoring with our customers, and it’s been extremely consistent since March. So I think by putting the employee safety, health, and wellbeing, first and foremost, you know, I run a customer support organization and I always say, happy employees makes happy customers. And we tried to follow that mantra as we moved to working from home so that everyone felt, you know, not only safe, but they could work and do what they needed to do in the time that they could do it and be productive for the company.

Karl: [00:10:24] So you’re in an interesting industry in space where, a lot of your clients and customers are in the healthcare and healthcare based businesses. And this pandemic, we all know absolutely hit right smack dab into that part of our economy. What were some of the things you have to do to adjust on your customer side, your customer facing interfaces, to adapt to this pandemic year?

Liz: [00:10:50] So, the same way we sort of went right at it from an employee perspective, we out of the gate do the same thing with our product management team on the customer side. So we very quickly engaged with our customers. One-on-one conversations with the salespeople had. We also held, peer to peer community groups. We also engage with our customers through coffee talks and we very quickly, you know, we established by a mantra that we use, which was ask, listen, act. And we used it both for our customers and employees. So in the very beginning, from a customer perspective, we were asking a lot of questions. You know, examples might include how are they getting PPE? Because our customers needed to have PPE, you know, and were they able to get PPE? And we actually had forums in which customers in certain cities were sharing with each other, you know, best practices around how they were actually acquiring PPE, which we all know was in a shortage in the beginning and giving each other resources.

But what we did from a Brightree perspective, sort of after asking is then we sort of hit it from a product perspective. We are a product technology company and we very quickly rolled out product updates so that we could support them as customers. That was everything from COVID 19 diagnosis codes, giving them the ability to confirm a delivery with a photo instead of a signature to enable social distancing. We developed a COVID 19 impact analytics dashboard, which we made available to our customers at no charge. So they could get a better understanding of their operational and financial standing amid the pandemic. And we also created, as I said, forums. So they could engage with each other. Sometimes, you know, our customers learn a lot from each other, especially ones that were regionally situated. And from that, we were able to support them both through our community, but also through other customers.

Karl: [00:12:46] I think you highlighted a couple of things there that was really insightful for first small business owners or large business owners in when dealing with an emergency or a shock to the system in the way that we had to this year, but that interactions and leveraging your touch points with your customers. Can you tell me a little bit more about those forums? When you couldn’t get people together physically, how did you use technology and the tools that we have today to create a safe and friendly environment for customers to communicate with you?

Liz: [00:13:21] So within the Brightree product itself, we have an online community. A community forum on which customers can engage with each other. And we had a lot of information that we could share with the customers. And then the customers were able to share with each other. So first and foremost, we very quickly got out in the community forum the necessary information they needed to be able to respond to the pandemic and continue patient care. But then we also added some engagement activities. So we had coffee talk webinars where customers came together themselves, a customer would come and they would talk about a key issue or strategy that they were working on. We also have an executive advisory board,

which is made up of 15 to 20 key customers that we engage with usually twice a year. And we started engaging with them once a month, you know, Zoom being our platform. But we brought them together to understand, you know, what their evolving needs were so then we could feed the rest of the customer base. And we found that through engaging either through the coffee talks, through the EAB, or sales going back on one-on-one conversations, we’re able to engage with the customers, understand their evolving needs, and then very quickly be able to act against those and meet them, whether it’s through a product or a service or just some level of support. Sometimes we had to find resources for them that they needed to be able to service their patients. And we were able to make that happen for them through the community.

Karl: [00:14:49] I love the blended methods and I think one of the key takeaways from that is, no matter the size of your business, varying the ways that you facilitate two way communication, not just one way, but through the advisory board, you’re getting feedback on tough topics.

You’re doing it in informal settings, and then you’re leveraging your sales team and your account management teams. They have one-on-one conversation in multiple ways. I think very often small business owners, they’ve fallen in love with social media in a way of blasting out one directional information. But this year showed where creating a community forum where people can facilitate two-way communication can happen in the digital way, as well as the old fashioned pick up a phone or today a Zoom and get online and have face to face or real conversations with people. That’s very, very wise approach to do that. And you can probably see some success with that. I’m curious, I wonder, from a business standpoint as you started going through the summer, a lot of businesses were stuck in neutral if you’d call it during the pandemic. How was it for you in continuing to execute the plan you walked into the year with?

Whether it’s on hiring, whether it’s on market share. Were you able to continue to grow and

execute throughout the pandemic?

Liz: [00:16:23] So on both fronts, we were extremely fortunate. So from a hiring perspective, we actually were able to hire throughout the pandemic. Absolutely. And we even had our intern program this summer, which I know is quite unique. So we were able to bring in remote interns. So they got the opportunity to do work in a remote environment. We brought those in, in our marketing and sales team. And, you know, we all had to figure out how to be agile and find new ways to support the new hires in our environment, in this in-home dynamic. And we did that. As part of our onboarding process, we put in place a mentor program. So when you think of a mentor, sometimes people think of it as your boss. And we actually took a different approach.

We asked the hiring manager to pick someone who would be that person they could go to, to ask questions that you don’t normally want your boss to know you don’t know the answer to. But somebody in this remote time that can sort of steer them through the halls. Even though they were virtual halls, right. That they could, you know, very quickly reach out to on teams because they’re in a meeting and they don’t know who this person is that they’re, you know, somebody who’s asking questions, so they don’t know what is. But somebody who’s just there for them all the time as if they were there in the office. So we had to try to figure out how to simulate that environment from an onboarding perspective. So yes, we were very grateful and very thankful that we continued to hire. And actually from a business perspective, we were extremely busy.

Our customers were very busy and we were very busy along with them and from a business and

financial perspective, we’ve done quite well. Yes, we were able to grow through the pandemic and very appreciative of that.

Karl: [00:18:02] That’s fabulous. To hear what, to hear another company that’s, you know, faced with a crisis, still figured out how to pivot on, how do adapt quickly and that’s one of the things that great companies often are able to do. I am curious about, as you were talking about hiring through that, I remember a time when the hiring process involved, someone coming in having an interview with 12 people on a team for a full day and then they go home. And so there was an element and a premium put on for hiring managers and teams to see the person, they were looking for certain things. How has 2020 change people’s thinking on what’s important in the hiring process, interviewing. And were you able to do anything to change that process that you think you might want to keep even beyond this season of the pandemic?

Liz: [00:19:05] To be honest, we actually have, we initiated a process with our parent company Resmed, gosh, probably six months ago. We actually utilize a product called Hire View. So as part of the original, as part of the first level of hiring, the hiring manager provides questions to the recruiter. And the actual applicant has to, through Hire View, which is a zoom like product, present the answers to those questions, right? So you sort of get that in-person feel, the hiring manager gets before the interview process even started. And once they pass through the hire review, Then we’ve been using a team interview process in person for all of our interviews. So we’ve started to use that as a best practice across the company. Where we bring in, let’s say for example, in my area professional services, we’re hiring a new manager and that new manager, once they’re on board is going to work with a lot of different departments in the company. So I select a person from each one of those departments and they work on a team interview and each person has a role and responsibility on that interview and they participate as a team. So we learned, and we figured out when we moved to working from home, we could do the same exact process with Zoom. And it worked just as well. So the interview candidate was still engaging with all the same people that they would have if it was in person. And we found actually it worked quite well. So it was, that was a good, best practice. And we’ll continue to use it if, you know, at some point in time, hopefully here very soon we’ll use it in person. And if not, we’ll continue to use it virtually.

Karl: [00:20:35] I’m curious if you follow that same thinking with your customers. I’m sure when you’ve, find acquiring customer there’s some process of onboarding them, especially if you’re implementing technology. How have you adapted, based on the social distancing constraints where you might’ve walked in and jumped on someone’s computer, are there things that you were able to figure out to help with that part?

Liz: [00:20:59] Yes. And that was one of the first things that actually my department in professional services had to adapt to very quickly. So one of the first things we do when we onboard a new customer is we go onsite and we do an operational workflow analysis and design. So we had to really quickly pivot and determine, you know, figure out how are we going to now do that remotely. Because what we’re doing is we’re going in and talking with all the key business leaders about how they, in a future state, want to utilize our technology. And it’s very

much a sort of in-person engagement. And in the March, April, May timeframe, you know, really through the summer, that was not something that we were equipped to do, nor was our customer. So we needed to create a virtual environment in which to do that. And those went very well. But I will tell you, as we went through the rest of the implementation, there was a point in time where the customer said, this has all been great, but now we all need to get together. So we had to figure out how to do that. And I will tell you, starting about a month, month and a half ago, we started to do it. We have a very specific protocol and policy and we need to work very closely with the customer. So that, for example, you know, from a social distancing perspective, when our consultant goes in that they’re able to meet the requirements that we put in place, because again, the health, safety, and wellbeing of our employee was most important. First and foremost, the employee had to volunteer. There was no asking anyone to go. They had to totally volunteer. And because, you know, our consultants are road warriors. They’ve been home for quite a while. So we had a few volunteers very quickly, but they were very appreciative of, we put in place our own pandemic guidelines for in-person meetings. And we had to ask the customer to abide by that same protocol. Now, being that a lot of our, you know, our customers do patient care, so they’re also in healthcare. They very much appreciated it. So I would tell you, in the last two months, we’ve probably done six of those. And they were very important because they were that end of the process for the customer coming up on our technology and they needed that in-person contact. But it’s, you know, ensuring the health, the wellbeing and the safety of the employee was as important as for the customer.

Karl: [00:23:15] I think one of the things that’s becoming really apparent in my conversation with you today is to implement all these things. When I know sitting in January of 2020, most of the world would not have realized what had happened. It takes really strong leadership to do that. What’s some things about Brightree that makes its leaders able to respond the way that it did this year?

Liz: [00:23:44] You know what I would say, we’re extremely agile and we’re extremely adaptive. We’ve got an excellent executive team. We all work very well together. We’re all very strong leaders in our own domain. And you know, we care about our employees and we care about our customers, right. So we came to it, you know, I know I keep saying it, health, wellbeing, and safety. But it wasn’t only for us, but it was also to ensure our customers can continue doing what they needed to do, which was provide patient care. So, you know, the Brightree executive team, we handle a challenge very well. We’re extremely adaptive and we did turn on a dime. We literally turned on days. And we sent everybody home and we had our policies and procedures in place. Because you’re right. In January, imagine we had just been our office for 30 days. We were all so excited. We’re in Peachtree Corners, we’re in a brand new building. We have this extremely beautiful building, great collaboration area. We’re all so excited. I mean, everybody was really pumped. It brought new energy to the company. And then with, you know, unbeknownst to us in three months, the whole world’s going to change. But I will say we brought that energy home, not to say there wasn’t in the month of March, you know, a total assimilation. You know, everybody at home now, like, you know, your routines totally changed. Your workdays totally changed. But we put forth the effort because we knew our customers were doing direct patient care. And everybody was looking at the news and everybody didn’t know

exactly what was going on. So we needed to continue to do what we needed to do and be strong, you know, stay strong as one of our mantras. And we did that for not only our employees, but also, you know, for our parent company Resmed and our customers.

Karl: [00:25:27] So with the beautiful building that’s been right here in Atlanta Tech Park, have you begun to think through the strategy with the vaccine, multiple vaccines on its way? How you start thinking about bringing people back into the building? And what are some of the things you might keep from this year going forward? And what are some of the things that you definitely want to get the team back together in the building?

Liz: [00:25:50] We actually already started coming back. So, I guess it was about a month ago we, you know, there’s a portion of our employee base that really would prefer to work in the office. So we have a very, you know, we have a very large office, but we set, we did a very soft open and set the opening at 25 people at a time. And one of the first things that we needed to do was figure out, you know, again, how can we do this safely? And we know that there was some mainstays that had to be there, social distancing, you know, health checks, you know, how are we going to make sure that somebody who’s coming into the office should be in the office? How are we gonna know who’s in the office and when they’re in the office? And if in fact we ever had an issue from a COVID perspective, how could we do contact tracing? So we partnered and actually bought a new technology from a company based in Alpharetta. I love that it was local called Mathtitian and they gave us the ability to implement the solution that gave really all the facets that we needed. So for example, today, if an employee needs to go in, they schedule themselves and they schedule when they’re in the office, they’re sent through the technology, either SMS or an email, a prescreen health at a station that they need to do before they can come in. And once they’re approved, then we know where they are. So we can schedule them, they can do their pre-screen. But then we also that enabled contact tracing for us. And then by working with Mathtitian, we could develop our floor plans so we knew we had physical distancing. Whether it’s, you know, these two people sit in and the workstation is at least six feet apart. Or if there’s a group that wants to go in a conference room in which seats would they sit, so we make sure there’s physical distancing there also. So we’ve started that process. Like I said, it started a month ago and it’s been going well. You know, we’ll see as time goes on and as the months go on, one of the important factors, you know, we look at is health and safety. So we’re checking the metrics and we know what the metrics are for the Atlanta area, for the Gwinnett County and Peachtree Corners area. But we, you know, keeping that employee safety is the primary goal. We’ll continue to evolve the plan as time goes on.

Karl: [00:28:02] Well, I tell you, all the things that Brightree’s done now going to help their employees adapt of customers, figure out how to be more successful through this year. I’m glad to say that, you know, we’ve got a company locally that’s leading the way in helping figure this out. It’s such a tough year. I’ve got a last question if I could ask, you know, when everything that went through this year, both professionally and personally, that most people have gone through, is there something that you implemented or did this year that might’ve been caused by the pandemic that you think can live beyond this? When this is all said and done, and the pandemic

has gone away and we’re all vaccinated. Are there things in the business that you’ve changed that you think have a long term future within your organization?

Liz: [00:28:51] I think we’re going to look at the opportunity that we gave the employees to work from home and have that flexible work schedule and have that, you know, focus on wellbeing and balance. That will absolutely continue. I mean we’ve heard it loud and clear from a, well, we do pulse surveys with our employees every six months. And that came through loud and clear. We’ve done two already, cause we did one right after the pandemic. But, you know, reinforcing wellbeing and balance. Not that it wasn’t in the forefront of our culture before, but I believe that that will continue to be on the forefront. And then the level of communication. So I talked about in the beginning, you know, the daily huddles. We also had town halls and we had those every week for quite a few weeks. And we’ve moved now to, you know, once a month, every other week or once a month, depending on the time period. And that level of communication, maintaining that. Because that gives the, you know, the engagement level with the employees without a doubt. But I think some of the, you know, the other aspects of our culture, you know, agility and change and you know, the care that we give for both our customers and the service excellence, those will all continue. But I think we’ll look at that flexibility for the employees so that they can, you know, live their best life. And also, be the best they can be for Brightree.

Karl: [00:30:11] There was one thing that became apparent. Although this year we had to physically distance for safety, I think Brightree and your team and the rest of the organization did a great job of actually keeping people together. So I don’t know if this term social distance really meant the same. I think communicating people keep people connected. We’ve done a better job probably as a society. You definitely would put it in your business, even though people may be physically distanced you were able to shrink it a little bit and keep people at least socially connected throughout this. Which is fabulous. Well, I’d love to thank you so much for taking some time out of your busy schedule to chat with us on the Capitalist Sage. I’d like to thank Liz Brown, the vice president of customer satisfaction at Brightree right here in Peachtree Corners  for your insights and sharing your experience. There’s a lot of companies that struggled through this, they implemented some of the things you’ve had. Some didn’t. But what you’ve highlighted and shared with folks that there’s a different way to think about adapting. And I know a lot of people took a turtle mentality and just kind of, you know, hunkered down. But there’s ways to find innovative ways to continue to live your mission in your organization. And thanks for sharing that with us today. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta Peachtree. Rico and I have the pleasure to talk to local business leaders and owners, here in Peachtree Corners and surrounding areas, to talk about things that can help any business owner, whether it’s a small business, a large corporation or anywhere in between. It’s really been a pleasure to share insight from folks that are having success in doing that.

Transworld is our business and we help consult. I work with small business owners when it comes time to make those important decisions in life, around exiting their business, whether it’s selling or growing through acquisition. So we are an M and A firm and business sales firm that helps people with doing that. And so you can always reach out to myself or anyone on my team to schedule a consultation. You can always find us at www.TWorld.com/AtlantaPeachtree. Rico, why don’t you tell me a little bit about what you’ve got going on over the next couple of weeks?

Rico: [00:32:31] Sure. I’ll keep it short here, but we’re working on Peachtree Corners Magazine. The next issue, Faces of Peachtree Corners is the feature story. Along with some of the things that we have in there. We just finished the photo shoot here at Atlanta Tech Park last night for that feature. So we’re doing, yeah, magazine’s coming along. We’re on deadline. We’ll be done in about two weeks and that’ll be out the first week in December to everyone. In the meantime, you can go online at LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com to find out more information. In fact, one of the stories we have on there was the internship program at Brightree and how that worked. And that was a phenomenal story I thought. It did really well. Good to see companies out there like Brightree doing that type of work too. A lot of these kids didn’t have internship opportunities after COVID started. So, not very good for some of them because they looked forward to doing it and that becomes sometimes a job entry point for these students. So good thing they were able to do that. As far as what I do, social media marketing content work, curation, video production, photography, you can find my work at MightyRockets.com or look me up on LinkedIn, Rico Figliolini or Mighty Rockets. Either way you can find me. So, and let’s not just forget our lead sponsor Hargray Fiber again, who is a major lead sponsor for not only Capitalist Sage, but the other programs that we run, the other podcasts that we do in the city. So all good. And I appreciate Liz for being with us also, for being part of the show this episode, it was really good. I learned a lot as well, so. And I apologize. Most people didn’t know when we started this, there were technical difficulties getting this off the ground, but we finally got it through and I appreciate Liz’s patience with that. Thank you Liz.

Karl: [00:34:20] Thank you Liz and everyone at the Brightree team. Have a great day.

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Business

Peachtree Corners Deploys Cawamo’s Industry-First AI Camera Tech For COVID-19 Safety and Security

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cawamo sample
Camawo sample of camera function capabilities from press release.

Peachtree Corners – the nation’s first smart city environment powered by real-world infrastructure and next-generation connectivity – announced the addition of revolutionary artificial intelligence-powered camera technology from Cawamo at City Hall – aimed at increasing public safety and preventing the spread of COVID-19. The international firm’s proprietary technology enables existing cameras to determine if someone is not wearing a mask or a group of people are not observing social
distancing guidelines, immediately alerting city personnel.

“As further reflection of our smart city leadership, our work with Cawamo to customize a COVID-19 monitoring system for City Hall shows how technology is helping to solve modern problems, while also prioritizing privacy,” said Brandon Branham, chief technology officer and assistant city manager of Peachtree Corners. “Our highest priority, and the aim of a smart city concept overall, is the safety and security of our residents and we firmly believe this technology will help us maintain important public safety protocols as we work to slow the spread of the virus. Allowing us to instantly convert existing cameras into smart cameras also shows promise for wider deployment across the city, in addition to within workplaces in the near future.”

Feature rich platform – combining artificial intelligence, cloud and edge computing

  • Accuracy: Combined onsite edge and cloud AI technologies work together to generate high-quality,accurate alerts with virtually zero false alerts
  • Universal: System can be installed on any existing camera or DVR/NVR
  • Privacy: Object detection done without facial recognition – no personal identifiable information used in COVID-19 monitoring
  • Cost-Savings for City Government: Cawamo offering municipalities free COVID-19 monitoring service with purchase of onsite equipment

“As the first cloud-edge video analytics company to develop mask and social distancing detection technology that connects with any existing security camera, we are thrilled to be helping the City of Peachtree Corners keep its citizens safe using the already-installed security cameras around the city,” said David Yakov, CEO of Cawamo. “Peachtree Corners is a premier smart city known around the globe for its dedication to the development of emerging smart city technologies, so it was a no-brainer for it to be the first city in the United States to deploy the technology. We are honored to be providing mask and social distancing monitoring for the city and hope we can expand our footprint and help other municipalities, businesses and organizations with the same level of protection.”

For more information or to schedule a briefing with city leadership, contact Judy Putnam, Communications Director at jputnam@peachtreecornersga.gov or 770-609-8821.

Source: City of Peachtree Corners and Curiosity Lab of Peachtree Corners Press Release

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Business

Recognition for Advancement in Homeland Security Technologies, for Peachtree Corners company and others

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liberty defense logo
Liberty Defense Logo from their site.

The Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation is announcing awards for two collaborative projects totaling $1.5 million to develop advanced homeland security technologies in the areas of threat detection and 3D mapping. The BIRD Homeland Security (HLS) program is a joint initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the Israel Ministry of Public Security (MOPS).

“The BIRD HLS program gives us the opportunity to bring some of the best U.S. and Israeli technology companies together to address our broad homeland security needs,” said DHS Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology William N. Bryan. “These strategic partnerships will develop innovative solutions that will enhance safety and security around the globe.”

The 2020 HLS awardees include:

  • Liberty Defense Technologies (Peachtree Corners, Georgia) and Levitection (Haifa, Israel) will develop a detection solution based on electromagnetic imaging and artificial intelligence to detect threats and concealed items in wide-open areas.
  • Hivemapper (Burlingame, California) and Ception Technologies (Jerusalem, Israel) will develop a fused air and ground 3D mapping system.

Dr. Eitan Yudilevich, Executive Director of the BIRD Foundation, said, “BIRD HLS attracts innovative American and Israeli companies and encourages synergistic partnerships to develop solutions that will fulfill critical homeland security needs in both countries. We look forward to continuing our work with DHS and the Israel Ministry of Public Security and to the next cycle in 2021.”

Since 2016, DHS S&T has partnered with the MOPS on the BIRD HLS program to seek solutions to advancing first responder technologies. This year’s call for proposals included six additional areas for U.S. and Israeli collaboration:

  • Cyber crime
  • Critical infrastructure and public facilities
  • Safe and secure cities
  • Border protection
  • Unmanned aerial systems
  • Advanced technologies for first responders

The BIRD Foundation is a unique U.S.-Israeli partnership that accelerates cooperation between U.S. and Israeli companies, academia and other research institutions in a wide range of technology sectors to foster strategic partnerships between companies in both countries for the purpose of joint product development.

DHS S&T focuses on providing the tools, technologies, and knowledge products the nation’s Homeland Security Enterprise needs today and tomorrow. 

Source: News Wise

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