By Olivia R. Weidner, DHIT Global Intern | August 10, 2020

On Friday, August 7th, 2020, the Digital Health Institute for Transformation (DHIT) hosted the tenth and final installment of Season 2 of its digital web series in collaboration with the ASSIST Center at North Carolina State University.

Season 2 of the DHIT Frequency Webinar Series took place biweekly as a way to keep our community connected while many work from home. Each segment was co-hosted by DHIT’s President, Michael Levy, and Adam Curry, ASSIST Innovation Ecosystem Director. The series spotlighted distinguished guests from across the ecosystem to discuss the state of digital health in the time of COVID-19. 

Amidst widespread fear and uncertainty, DHIT explored the role of digital health in the global response to COVID-19, gaining insight into the ways this crisis has catalyzed the usage and acceptance of telehealth, remote monitoring, and other digital health technologies. Last week’s panelists included:

  • David Heenan, Venture Director, Cone Health Ventures
  • Krista Covey, President, First Flight Venture Center
  • Rachael Newberry, Program Director, RIoT

Over the past few months, the DHIT Frequency series included discussions about a range of different challenges to maintaining health and wellness in the time of COVID-19. Moderators and panelists have looked at emerging technologies and their potential benefits for healthcare delivery. The most recent installment was the second episode dedicated to our innovation champions, also marking the end of Season 2. Last Friday’s episode continued the discussion of progressing toward adoption, with three new panelists representing three distinct program and innovation champions: David Heenan, Venture Director of Cone Health Ventures; Krista Covey, President of the First Flight Venture Center; and Rachael Newberry, Director of the RIoT Accelerator Program. Each panelist spoke about their respective company, personal mission statement, and involvement with the virtual incubator. At the conclusion of the discussion with the panelists, co-hosts Michael Levy and Adam Curry announced the six winners of the virtual incubator awards

Friday’s webisode represented a continuation of the previous episode’s theme regarding progressing toward adoption, and Levy again posed a few key questions for each panelist to answer. Levy began the conversation by asking each guest to provide some information about their respective workplace; this granted viewers insight into some of our program and innovation champions. 

David Heenan of Cone Health Ventures told the audience that this branch of the Cone Health system was created with the aim of supporting operational and clinical leaders in meeting their goals and overcoming obstacles. Located in Greensboro, Cone Health is a fully-integrated health system that serves a five-county area encompassing roughly 2 million people. Cone Health Ventures uses its resources, network, and brand to help companies scale their products and services into the marketplace. 

First Flight is a nonprofit business incubator located in the Research Triangle Park. Hangar6 is a division of First Flight, which exists to “serve high-science, high-impact startups that are changing the world,” according to Krista Covey. Hangar6 provides prototyping support to startup ventures, and one of the incubator awards includes advanced prototyping assistance offered by this nonprofit. 

RIoT is an economic development nonprofit with the goal of job creation and company growth. Rachael Newberry provided viewers with an overview of RIoT’s inception: 

“RIoT quite literally started as a Meetup group; six years ago, we started convening technology and business professionals in the RTP region to talk about the future of wireless. Today, these events are still a core part of what we do, but ultimately, we support businesses, large and small, with taking advantage of the opportunities that IOT presents.”

“The reason I get up in the morning is because there’s not many professions where you can contribute to saving lives on a daily basis. Enabling doctors to do their work more productively, accurately, and effectively is about as close as I can get to impacting individuals and society as a whole.”

RIoT boasts a large sponsor ecosystem that includes 80 corporate partners, and also offers an event series that includes educational workshops as well as larger conference-style events. In addition, RIoT offers a 12-week startup accelerator, a program that has served 32 startups and generated $47 million in revenue to date. Three of our incubator winners were named as finalists for entry into the RIoT Accelerator Program. 

Personal Mission Statements

After discussing each panelist’s company, Levy asked everyone to share their personal mission statement: in other words, he wanted to know why they get up each morning. For Covey and Newberry, the entrepreneurial ecosystem is evidently a source of inspiration and excitement; the opportunity to guide innovative entrepreneurs through the startup process is their passion. Covey tells viewers:

“For me, it’s all about working with these problem-solvers; I’ve been an entrepreneur myself, and it’s not an easy journey. I get my ‘warm and fuzzies’ when the companies I’m working with meet their milestones; I get to share in that excitement.”

Given each panelist’s desire to contribute to innovation in the digital health domain, it’s no surprise that they decided to participate in DHIT and ASSIST’s virtual incubator. To Heenan, the incubator came at the perfect time, given the acute demand for innovative solutions in the face of COVID-19. For Covey, the major draw of the incubator was its collaborative nature, and Newberry feels it is critical to support healthcare innovation, especially in today’s climate. RIoT, Cone Health Ventures, and First Flight each made the decision to provide resources, network connections, and preparation support to startups entering into the complex healthcare environment. 

Congratulations to all award recipients, and thank you to the program and innovation sponsors who made this possible! We wish each of you all the best in the development process, and we look forward to seeing the meaningful change brought about each of your respective products and platforms. Additionally, thank you to all who participated in the virtual incubator challenge! It was truly a pleasure to review each of the innovative submissions we received. For more information on the winning teams, please see the press release here.

As Season 2 of the DHIT Frequency Web Series, COVID Unites Us All draws to a close, we want to thank everyone who has made this season great. Stay tuned for Season 3, and stay safe, everyone!

DHIT thanks its guests for serving on the panel, and everyone who tuned in! If you were not able to catch last week’s webinar, check out DHIT’s Media page to see what you missed. DHIT and ASSIST would also like to give a special shoutout to our Program and Innovation Champions: Pfizer Digital, RIoT, Excelerate Health Ventures, Device Solutions, Medallia, Charlotte AHEC, Elsevier, Cone Health Ventures, First Flight Venture Center, SotoIP, and Duke MEDx. 



The Digital Health Institute for Transformation (DHIT) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit education and research institute supporting communities through the process of digital health transformation. We collaborate with leading academic institutions, associations, and industry to cultivate talent and ecosystems with our immersive learning platform, harnessing real-world experiences that drive the adoption of next generation skills, emerging technologies, and mindsets needed to foster the digital health leaders and innovators of the future, today. For more information, visit

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