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50 Fastest Growing Companies of the Year 2023

An innovations company empowering healthcare segment with real tech: CEGA Innovations


The two co-founders (Aaron J Emerson, Esq. (CEO) & Dr. Ty White, MD (Chief Medical Officer)) of CEGA are old college roommates and were having dinner back around 2012. At the time, Aaron was a litigation partner in a law firm and Ty was a partner in a private anesthesiologist group and the two were having a light-hearted argument of who had it worse: a doctor or a lawyer. During the course of the conversation, Ty brought up the worst part of his job, which was moving patients following surgery from the OR table to the recovery bed. According to 2017–2018 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), nearly 1 in 3 adults (30.7%) are overweight, more than 2 in 5 adults (42.4%) have obesity, and about 1 in 11 adults (9.2%) have severe obesity. This data becomes even more skewed towards an overweight/obese population in a hospital setting, as this population is more representative of hospitalized patients having health issues.

With hospital staff experiencing the highest rate of worker injury than any other industry, we set out to design products that were safer for staff to use, thereby creating better outcomes for patients by reducing the risks of skin injuries, bleeding, and infection. The team at CEGA is an expert in safe patient handling, with an emphasis on Air Lateral Transfer (ALT) products. CEGA also offers competencies through its direct sourcing platform in healthcare, including product expertise, import and customs services, logistics and storage oversight, and regulatory compliance.

In conversation with Aaron J Emerson, the CEO of CEGA Innovations

Q. How did you decide what types of products you want to make? How did you come up with this name?

Our first product we brought to market was called MUV (pronounced “move”), which is a sensational spelling to highlight the function of the device to move supine patients from one surface to another. It was designed to eliminate nearly all the load experienced by care providers pulling patients across surfaces. Our follow-up product was coined REMUV (pronounced “remove”) to highlight the ability to remove the device from under patients without touching them, thereby negating risk events for both patients and staff. As the only device of its kind, using REMUV in OR and procedure-based settings also reduces the risks of bleeding and infection, thus promoting better patient outcomes.

Q. Many hospitals are focused on the financial aspect of health care and not the quality outcomes. How do you maintain the affordability of your solutions for mass adoption?

We have invested $1M+ in our own equipment and customized machinery to control both cost and quality. Our manufacturing is not based on traditional contract manufacturing used by many companies, but rather we have partnered with a manufacturing organization for the last 10+ years, permitting us to manufacture in a location dedicated to our products. This uncommon mix of ownership and partnership for a company our size grants us unusual flexibility in assessing costs, both fixed and indirect, and factors needed to optimize scaling.

Q. Do you have any new services ready to be launched?

In 2020 alone, the American Hospital Association (AHA) estimated that hospital financial losses were at least $323.1 billion. As the pandemic persisted well into 2021, a report by Kaufman Hall forecasted that hospitals and health systems would face an additional $53 billion to $122 billion in losses in 2021, with continuing loss carryover in 2022. In reality, 2022 losses will surpass those seen in 2021. While the overarching cost pressure in 2022 were employment-related or contract employment related, rising costs associated with medical supplies and goods and passthroughs arising from increased raw materials and transportation costs contributed to the dire budgetary crises many hospitals face. This is where CEGA’s CELER (meaning swift or fleet in Latin) program is relevant. Our CELER program puts control and access to information in the medical supplies buying process back in the hands of hospitals.

Q. What does the future hold for your company and its customers? Are exciting things on the way?

Hospitals in the US have been looking for strategies to reduce their medical supply costs for decades. The pressure to manage thin budgets has led to the development of group purchasing organizations, aggregated healthcare alliances, coordinated buying alliance programs, and limited third-party services. Group purchasing organizations (GPOs) have by far had the most success in creating buying standards and listing vendors with the best prices distributors are willing to offer. However, often these prices have zero to little transparency; they include multiple channels that layer costs on products and drive up prices; there is little control over resilience planning; and the distributor options are limited by the GPOs. In addition, the pandemic turned the entire industry on its head and necessitated the need for innovation.

Consider the overhead, commissions, and channel fees layered onto costs each time a product is purchased through a general distributor, local distributor, or group purchasing organization. We have created a transparency platform for directly sourced hospital supplies that factors in costs such as shipping, duty rates, customs processing fees, freight, unloading, palletization, pallet wrapping, local warehousing, and pick-and-pack fees. Our own margins for our services are also clearly available to our customers. Generally speaking, a hospital will pay between 2x and 5x more through a traditional distributor channel than if it were using our CELER program. Of course, this requires flexible thinking on the part of stakeholders due to a different way of transacting order quantities, safety stock, and payment terms; however, CELER customers have ownership over the process from start to finish without surprises and with meaningful positive impact on their bottom lines.

Meet the leader behind the success of CEGA Innovations

Aaron J Emerson is the CEO of CEGA Innovations. He was previously a litigation attorney with a practice focused on complex commercial disputes and risk advisement. Prior to practicing law, Aaron pursued research and academic interests in the areas of neuroscience at the University of South Dakota and Creighton University School of Medicine, kidney ischemia at University Physicians, and the cardiovascular system at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He is a peer-reviewed published author and co-author in Behavioral Brain Research, Brain Research Bulletin, Neuroscience Abstracts, Society of Neuroscience Abstracts and General Comparative Endocrinology. He has a BS degree in Biology, Master of Science degree in biology, and Master of Arts degree in neuroscience from the University of South Dakota, and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University Of South Dakota School Of Law (now Knudson School of Law).

“We are by far the smallest and youngest company in the market space. As in most cases like this, we rely on being business agile for our customers and providing enhanced and personal customer service.”

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