Forbes Ranks Epic’s Judith Faulkner the Richest Woman in Healthcare in Its 2021 List of 100 Richest Self-Made Women in US

Within the in vitro diagnostics and clinical laboratory space, Bio-Rad’s Alice Schwartz and 23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki also were recognized by Forbes

At $6.5 billion net worth, Forbes, in its 2021 list of the 100 richest self-made women in the US, ranked Judith Faulkner, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Epic Systems Corp., in second place overall. But in the industry of healthcare, she tops the list by far. The next nearest healthcare-related “richest woman” is Alice Schwartz, co-founder of Bio-Rad Laboratories, at $2.9 billion.

Faulkner was surpassed on Forbes’ list only by roofing material magnate Diane Hendricks, co-founder of ABC Supply Co., whose net worth of $11 billion puts her squarely in the top spot.

Richest Self-Made Women in Healthcare

Becker’s Hospital Review highlighted the seven richest “self-made” women who ran healthcare-related companies. They include:

Also listed by Forbes was Anne Wojcicki, CEO and founder of 23andMe, a personal genomics and biotechnology company. Wojcicki’s net worth of $1.1 billion puts her in the 25th position, according to Forbes.

In “Genetic Test Company 23andMe Completes Merger with Richard Branson’s VG Acquisition Corp., Stock Now Trades on NASDAQ,” Dark Daily noted that since the Sunnyvale, Calif. direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing company will now be filing quarterly earnings reports, pathologists and clinical laboratory managers will have the opportunity to learn more about how 23andMe serves the consumer market for genetic types and how it is generating revenue from its huge database containing the genetic sequences from millions of people.

Judith Faulkner and Alice Schwartz

Judith Faulkner (left), founder and CEO of Epic Systems Corp., and Alice Schwartz (right), co-founder of Bio-Rad Laboratories, ranked 2nd and 10th respectively in Forbes’ list of the top 100 richest self-made women. In healthcare, Faulkner ranks 1st and Schwartz 2nd. Clinical laboratory personnel will likely be familiar with Epic Beaker, which, according to Healthcare IT Leaders, “is Epic’s laboratory information system (LIS) for hospitals, clinics, patient service centers, and reference labs. The software supports common workflows for clinical pathology (CP) labs as well as anatomic pathology (AP) labs.”  (Photo copyrights: HIT Consultant/Science History Institute.)

How did Faulkner Make Epic So Epic?

It all started in 1979 when Faulkner and a colleague invested $70,000 to launch Human Services Computing, which became Epic, noted Forbes in “The Billionaire Who Controls Your Medical Records.”

“I always liked making things out of clay. And the computer was clay of the mind. Instead of physical, it was mental,” Faulkner, who is 77, told Forbes.

Company milestones noted by Forbes include:

  • Inking a deal in 2004 with Kaiser Permanente for a three-year, $400-million project.
  • Moving in 2005 to a corporate campus in southern Wisconsin—an “adult Disney World” with the largest underground auditoriums and more “fantastical” buildings.
  • More recently, AdventHealth of Altamonte Springs, Fla., contracted with Epic for a $650 million remote build and installation.

“Epic’s system has tentacles that go out through amazing networks. You can actually help a person get the care they need wherever they need to get it,” AdventHealth’s CEO Terry Shaw told Forbes.

In about two years, Epic plans to launch an artificial intelligence (AI) Electronic Health Record (EHR) documentation tool aimed at transcribing clinician and patient conversations in real-time, EHR Intelligence reported.

However, Epic may face competition from IT startups in areas including ancillary services, where clinical laboratories, for example, are seeking genomic data storage and introducing new genetic tests, according to Becker’s Hospital Review in its report on analysis by CB Insights, titled, “Unbundling Epic: How The Electronic Health Record Market Is Being Disrupted.”

“I think that what will happen is that a few of them will do very well. And the majority of them won’t. “It’s not us as much as the health systems who have to respond to the patient saying, ‘Send my data here,’ or ‘Send my data there,’” Faulkner told Forbes.

Bio-Rad’s Alice Schwartz an IVD ‘Pioneer’

As Faulkner rose to prominence in healthcare IT, Alice Schwartz of Bio-Rad Laboratories found massive success in the in vitro diagnostics industry.

She and her late husband, David, started Bio-Rad with $720 in 1952 in Berkeley, Calif. They were intent on offering life science products and services aimed at identifying, separating, purifying, and analyzing chemical and biological materials, notes the company’s website.

“They were at the right place and at the right time as they became pioneers in the industry,” International Business Times (IBT) stated.

Bio-Rad Laboratories (NYSE:BIO and BIOb) of Hercules, Calif., offers life science research and clinical diagnostic products. The company’s second quarter (Q2) 2021 net sales were $715.9 million, an increase of about 33% compared to $536.9 million in Q2 2020, according to a news release. Its Clinical Diagnostics segment Q2 sales were $380 million, an increase of 34% compared to 2020.

Norman Schwartz, the founders’ son, is Bio-Rad’s Chairman of the Board,

President, and CEO. However, at age 94, Alice Schwartz, the oldest person on Forbes’ richest self-made women list, “has no sign of stopping soon,” IBT reported.

Lists are fun. Medical laboratory and diagnostics professionals may admire such foresight and perseverance. Judith Faulkner and Alice Schwartz are extraordinary examples of innovative thinkers in healthcare. There are others­—many in clinical laboratories and pathology groups.

Donna Marie Pocius

Related Information

Forbes’ Ranking of the Country’s Most Successful Women Entrepreneurs and Executives 2021

Healthcare’s Richest Self-Made Women, Per Forbes

Epic Systems Founder-CEO Judy Faulkner Wields Great Power and Responsibility in Healthcare IT

Unbundling Epic: How the Electronic Health Record Market is Being Disrupted

The Billionaire Who Controls Your Medical Records

Epic in Process of Developing AI EHR Documentation Assistant

Epic’s Revenue Hit $3.3B in 2020; 10 ways the EHR Giant’s Dominance is Opening Doors for Competition

Bio-Rad Reports Second Quarter 2021 Financial Results

Alice Schwartz Net Worth: Oldest, Richest Woman in U.S. is Worth $2.2B

Genetic Test Company 23andMe Completes Merger with Richard Branson’s VG Acquisition Corp; Stock Now Trades on NASDAQ

Two Florida Clinical Laboratory COVID-19 Test Contracts Come Under Scrutiny

One medical testing company was led by a convicted felon, another was accused of delays and unreliable results

Like many states, Florida has worked hard to quickly ramp up diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 illness. For the most part this has been a good thing. However, local media in that state reported problems with two no-bid contracts for clinical laboratory testing, including one with a Dallas-based company whose founder pleaded guilty last year to two felonies involving insurance fraud.

In a press conference announcing the two deals, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said, “We have two contracts in place with two new labs that will increase our lab capacity by 18,000 samples per day.” He added that he expected a 24- to 48-hour turnaround.

“That’s a lot better than we’ve been getting from Quest and LabCorp,” he said. “These labs will be primarily where we send our samples that we collect in the long-term-care and assisted-living facilities and at the community-based walk-up sites.”

The announcement followed DeSantis’ March 9 emergency decree, which allowed state agencies to award contracts to companies without undergoing formal bidding processes, reported Florida Bulldog, an independent non-profit news site.

In his announcement, DeSantis did not identify the companies that had received the lab test contracts. However, Florida Bulldog reported that those companies were:

  • Indur Services, a Dallas-based health-coaching company, and
  • Southwest Regional PCR, a CAP-accredited lab in Lubbock, Texas, that does business as MicroGenDX Laboratory (MicroGen Diagnostics, LLC).

The Indur contract—initially valued at $11.3 million—included $10.2 million for 140,000 COVID-19 RT-qPCR test kits, plus additional payment for supplies, Florida Bulldog reported based on information from the state contract database. Later, the contract was reduced to $2.2 million solely for supplies.

The MicroGenDX contract—valued at $11 million—called for 8,000 tests per day for 14 days at a cost of $99 per test, Florida Bulldog reported. That contract was later cancelled due to concerns about reliability and processing speed.

Indur’s Legal Troubles

Indur is a self-described “health and wellness lifestyle and products company” founded in 2017 by Brandt Beal, according to Business Insider. In 2019, Beal pleaded guilty to two felonies involving insurance fraud in Texas and was given 10 years’ probation in each case, Florida Bulldog reported. He also was required to pay restitution. He pleaded guilty to a separate charge of felony theft in 2017 and was sentenced to nine years’ probation.

In an interview with Florida Bulldog, Beal claimed that “the man who pleaded guilty to those charges is actually his cousin with the same name.” However, Beal “would not provide requested contact information for his cousin,” the Florida Bulldog reported, which posted photos demonstrating that the Indur founder and the person who pleaded guilty to the felonies were the same individual.

Jason Mahon, Communications Director at FDEM
Jason Mahon, Communications Director at the Florida Division of Emergency Management (above), told Florida Bulldog that Indur’s COVID-19 testing contract was scaled back in May “because Indur Services did not provide testing directly, but rather was providing testing services through another company.” The state then contracted directly with that clinical laboratory company to obtain the COVID-19 testing services. “Time is of the essence when securing these critical testing supplies for Floridians, and that limited time does not allow for the Division to vet every company’s executive leadership or board of directors,” Mahon told Florida Bulldog. (Photo copyright: LinkedIn.)

The amended contract, valued at $2.2 million, called for Indur to deliver swabs and vials. “To date, everything that’s been ordered they’ve delivered on,” said Jared Moskowitz, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management department.

Testing Delays Snag MicroGen Diagnostics

The state cancelled its contract with MicroGenDX on May 15, Florida Bulldog reported.

“As with any lab, we do our due diligence to ensure the company will be able to provide reliable services before sending any samples,” said Jason Mahon, Communications Director at the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “Upon further interaction with this vendor, the Division determined that the state could not be 100% confident in the results that would come from this vendor, or with the processing speed, which is critical for COVID-19 testing.”

This came as AdventHealth, a non-profit health system based in Altamonte Springs, Fla., was having its own difficulties with MicroGenDX.

On May 16, AdventHealth announced that it had terminated a COVID-19 testing contract with an unnamed third-party lab, claiming that the provider was “unable to fulfill its obligation.” Multiple media outlets later revealed MicroGenDX as the third-party lab, and USA Today reported that the FDA had launched an investigation.

“This issue impacts more than 25,000 people throughout Central Florida,” stated an AdventHealth press release. “This situation has created unacceptable delays and we do not have confidence in the reliability of the tests.” AdventHealth said it would contact affected individuals about the need for retesting.

However, MicroGenDX CEO Rick Martin refuted the health system’s claims. “You can go after me because I didn’t meet your capacity and I couldn’t deliver on your drive-through testing because of things that I couldn’t control, but don’t attack the reliability of my test,” he told the Orlando Sentinel.

According to MicroGenDX, the company received an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA on April 23 for an internally-developed RT-PCR test that can be performed on nasal swabs or sputum samples, noted a press release. The tests are run in the company’s lab facility in Lubbock, Texas.

One factor in the dispute was the handling of patient samples, USA Today reported. Martin told reporters that representatives from AdventHealth had visited the lab and observed samples that were stored at room temperature. “[Martin] maintains the samples were still valid and that the delays were due to AdventHealth not providing proper patient data and the lab running out of plastic parts used in its equipment,” noted USA Today.

Mahon told Florida Bulldog that the state did not send samples to MicroGenDX for processing. And the Florida Bulldog reported that Martin said his lab was so “hammered with huge volumes of samples” that he would have turned down any requests, adding that Martin “stood by the reliability and accuracy of his firm’s testing and said he looks forward to a day of vindication after federal inspectors conduct any inquiries.”

Martin has had his own legal troubles. According to USA Today, he was indicted by the US Department of Justice Middle District of Florida in 2017 for participating in a kickback scheme while working as a sales rep for Advanced BioHealing, Inc., of Westport, Conn. However, Martin was acquitted in a February 2019 trial, and Advanced BioHealing’s CEO Kevin Rakin settled the False Claims Act allegations for $2.5 million.

Collectively, these news stories scratch the surface of a bigger situation involving COVID-19 laboratory testing. The fact that Congress authorized billions of dollars to fund COVID-19 testing was noticed by some individuals who saw the funding as an opportunity to “make a quick buck” if they could get contracts to provide COVID-19 testing—whether they owned a CLIA-certified complex laboratory or not.

Thus, it’s no surprise that more companies are bidding on COVID-19 testing contracts. What remains unknown is how many of those companies are actively soliciting COVID-19 testing contracts throughout the United States.

Given this situation, and the facts recounted above, it is reasonable to ask an obvious question: Why did Florida state officials not do a more rigorous check into the credentials of the clinical laboratory entities they were preparing to award no-competitive-bid contracts to for COVID-19 testing?

—Stephen Beale

Related Information:

DeSantis Bragged about Deal with Lab Firm Now at Center of COVID-19 Testing

FDA Investigates Lab as Tens of Thousands of COVID-19 Test Results in Florida Are Questioned

TDI: Ex-Insurance Agent Funneled Wichita Falls Dairy Firm’s Premiums into His Own Pocket

More Rapid Tests Are Coming to FL. COVID-19 Testing Capacity Will Double, DeSantis Says

MicroGenDX CEO: ‘No Reason’ to Doubt COVID-19 Tests for Central Florida AdventHealth Patients

Lab Says 25,000 COVID-19 Tests Are Reliable, Disputing AdventHealth Claims

Nearly 35,000 Coronavirus Tests in Florida Cannot Be Processed

AdventHealth: 25,000 COVID-19 Test Results in Central Florida Are ‘Unreliable’

Florida Health Care System: 35,000 Virus Tests ‘Unreliable’

A Doctor Was Hired to Tell People They Had Coronavirus. He Had Checkered Past.

How a St. Petersburg Company with No History in Medical Supplies Won a $10 Million Coronavirus Contract

AdventHealth Gives 10,000 Floridians Free Genetic Tests, Sees Genomics as the Future of Precision Medicine

Many other healthcare systems also are partnering with private genetic testing companies to pursue research that drive precision medicine goals

It is certainly unusual when a major health network announces that it will give away free genetic tests to 10,000 of its patients as a way to lay the foundation to expand clinical services involving precision medicine. However, pathologists and clinical laboratory managers should consider this free genetic testing program to be the latest marketplace sign that acceptance of genetic medicine continues to move ahead.

Notably, it is community hospitals that are launching this new program linked to clinical laboratory research that uses genetic tests for specific, treatable conditions. The purpose of such genetic research is to identify patients who would benefit from test results that identify the best therapies for their specific conditions, a core goal of precision medicine.

The health system is AdventHealth of Orlando, Fla., which teamed up with Helix, a personal genomics company in San Mateo, Calif., to offer free DNA sequencing to 10,000 Floridians through its new AdventHealth Genomics and Personalized Health Program. A company news release states this is the “first large-scale DNA study in Florida,” and that it “aims to unlock the secret to a healthier life.”

The “WholeMe” genomic population health study screens people for familial hypercholesterolemia  (FH), a genetic disorder that can lead to high cholesterol and heart attacks in young adults if not identified and treated, according to the news release.

Clinical laboratory leaders will be interested in this initiative, as well other partnerships between healthcare systems and private genetic testing companies aimed at identifying and enrolling patients in research studies for disease treatment protocols and therapies. 

The Future of Precision Medicine

Modern Healthcare reported that data from the WholeMe DNA study, which was funded through donations to the AdventHealth Foundation, also will be used by the healthcare network for research beyond FH, as AdventHealth develops its genomics services. The project’s cost is estimated to reach $2 million.

“Genomics is the future of medicine, and the field is rapidly evolving. As we began our internal discussions about genomics and how to best incorporate it at AdventHealth, we knew research would play a strong role,” Wes Walker MD, Director, Genomics and Personalized Health, and Associate CMIO at AdventHealth, told Becker’s Hospital Review.

“We decided to focus on familial hypercholesterolemia screening initially because it’s a condition that is associated with life-threatening cardiovascular events,” he continued. “FH is treatable once identified and finding those who have the condition can lead to identifying other family members who are subsequently identified who never knew they had the disease.”

The AdventHealth Orlando website states that participants in the WholeMe study receive information stored in a confidential data repository that meets HIPAA security standards. The data covers ancestry and 22 other genetic traits, such as:

  • Asparagus Odor Detection
  • Bitter Taste
  • Caffeine Metabolism
  • Cilantro Taste Aversion
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Coffee Consumption
  • Delayed Sleep
  • Earwax Type
  • Endurance vs Power
  • Exercise Impact on Weight
  • Eye Color
  • Freckling
  • Hair Curl and Texture
  • Hand Grip Strength
  • Height
  • Lactose Tolerance
  • Sleep Duration
  • Sleep Movement
  • Sleeplessness
  • Sweet Tooth
  • Tan vs. Sunburn
  • Waist Size

Those who test positive for a disease-causing FH variant will be referred by AdventHealth for medical laboratory blood testing, genetic counseling, and a cardiologist visit, reported the Ormond Beach Observer.

One in 250 people have FH, and 90% of them are undiagnosed, according to the FH Foundation, which also noted that children have a 50% chance of inheriting FH from parents with the condition.

AdventHealth plans to expand the free testing beyond central Florida to its 46 other hospitals located in nine states, Modern Healthcare noted.

Other Genetics Data Company/Healthcare Provider Partnerships

In Nevada, Helix partnered with the Renown Health Institute for Health Innovation (IHI) and the Desert Research Institute (DRI) to sequence 30,000 people for FH as part of the state’s Healthy Nevada Project (HNP).

Helix (above) is one of the world’s largest CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited next-generation sequencing labs. The partnership with AdventHealth offered study participants Exome+: a panel-grade medical exome enhanced by more than 300,000 informative non-coding regions; a co-branded ancestry + traits DNA product for all participants; secure storage of genomic data for the lifetime of the participant; infrastructure and data to facilitate research; and in-house clinical and scientific expertise, according to Helix’s website. (Photo copyright: Orlando Sentinel.)

Business Insider noted that Helix has focused on clinical partnerships for about a year and seems to be filling a niche in the genetic testing market.

“Helix is able to sidestep the costs of direct-to-consumer marketing and clinical test development, while still expanding its customer base through predefined hospital networks. And the company is in a prime position to capitalize on providers’ interest in population health management,” Business Insider reported.

Another genomics company, Color of Burlingame, Calif., also has population genomics programs with healthcare networks, including NorthShore University Health System in Ill.; Ochsner Health System in La.; and Jefferson Health in Philadelphia.

Ochsner’s program is the first “fully digital population health program” aimed at including clinical genomics data in primary care in an effort to affect patients’ health, FierceHealthcare reported.

In a statement, Ochsner noted that its innovationOchsner (iO) program screens selected patients for:

  • Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer due to mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes;
  • Lynch syndrome, associated with colorectal and other cancers; and
  • FH.

Color also offers genetic testing and whole genome sequencing services to NorthShore’s DNA10K program, which plans to test 10,000 patients for risk for hereditary cancers and heart diseases, according to news release.

And, Jefferson Health offered Color’s genetic testing to the healthcare system’s 33,000 employees, 10,000 of which signed up to learn their health risks as well as ancestry, a Color blog post states.

Conversely, Dark Daily recently reported on two Boston healthcare systems that started their own preventative gene sequencing clinics. The programs are operated by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

And a Precision Medicine Institute e-briefing reported on Geisinger Health and Sanford Health’s move to offer genetic tests and precision medicine services in primary care clinics.

“Understanding the genome warning signals of every patient will be an essential part of wellness planning and health management,” said Geisinger Chief Executive Officer David Feinberg, MD, when he announced the new initiative at the HLTH (Health) Conference in Las Vegas. “Geisinger patients will be able to work with their family physician to modify their lifestyle and minimize risks that may be revealed,” he explained. “This forecasting will allow us to provide truly anticipatory healthcare instead of the responsive sick care that has long been the industry default across the nation.”

It will be interesting to see how and if genetic tests—free or otherwise—will advance precision medicine goals and population health treatments. It’s important for medical laboratory leaders to be involved in health network agreements with genetic testing companies. And clinical laboratories should be informed whenever private companies share their test results data with patients and primary care providers. 

—Donna Marie Pocius

Related Information:

It May Be Your DNA: First Large-Scale DNA Study in Florida Aims to Unlock the Secret to a Healthier Life

AdventHealth Offers Free DNA Tests to 10,000 Floridians

How AdventHealth Orlando is Building a Future in Genomics

Helix Partners with AdventHealth to Offer 10,000 Genetic Screenings in Florida

AdventHealth to Launch Large Genetic Study for High Cholesterol

Ochsner Health System Teaming Up with Genetic Testing Company Color in Population Genomics

The Healthy Nevada Project: from Recruitment to Real-World Impact

Ochsner Health System to Pilot Genetic Screening Program in Partnership with Color

North Shore and Color Unlock the Power of Genomics in Routine Care

Jefferson Heath and Color Advancing Precision Health Through Clinical Genomics and Richer Data

Two Boston Health Systems Enter the Growing Direct-to-Consumer Gene Sequencing Market by Opening Preventative Genomics Clinics, But Can Patients Afford the Service

Geisinger Health and Sanford Health Ready to Offer Genetic Tests and Precision Medicine Services in Primary Care Clinics