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I’m glad Idaho helped me develop technology for autism care

Ron Oberleitner and his wife created a business that helps families with children who are autistic. Their son Robby, wearing ear muffs to quiet sound, helped his parents know what worked. “Robby is the inspiration,” Oberleitner told the Statesman for a story last spring. One service the company offers is a video platform where families capture behavior and send it to doctors for remote diagnosis of autism.
Ron Oberleitner and his wife created a business that helps families with children who are autistic. Their son Robby, wearing ear muffs to quiet sound, helped his parents know what worked. “Robby is the inspiration,” Oberleitner told the Statesman for a story last spring. One service the company offers is a video platform where families capture behavior and send it to doctors for remote diagnosis of autism. kjones@idahostatesman.com

Many of us may be surprised about Idaho’s contributions in medicine and health technology that have led to life-changing diagnoses and treatments for crippling health conditions. Important Idaho successes include Sagle’s Dr. Forrest Bird (medical respirator/ventilator), Coeur d’Alene’s Nighthawk (the world’s first teleradiology company), and Boise’s Healthwise (medical content distributor).

When my son was diagnosed with autism in 1996, it took hardly any time to understand the challenges confronting our doctors and families, especially in remote and underserved areas — to get adequately diagnosed, and then to access specialized health care for those with disabilities like autism. I know how difficult it can be to see the days months, and (sometimes) years slip by for parents to not be able to help their struggling children. This challenge sparked an inspiration for change and ultimately led to my current passion and vocation.

After developing two other successful technology products, TalkAutism and AutismCares, my wife, Sharon, and I moved from New Jersey to Boise, where we cofounded Behavior Imaging in 2005 to transform health care access for autism and related disorders. Our company is using technology to make it easier for families to get fast, accurate behavioral assessments remotely so they can start treatment as soon as possible.

These accomplishments would not be possible without the mentorship and guidance from Idaho business and political leaders, camaraderie from the Idaho community and the Idaho technology community. With their support, we have attracted millions of dollars in federal grants to spearhead deployment of our health platform service to aid thousands of people around the world to use our platform to transform their ability to access behavioral health care remotely.

In June, we were one of five small businesses nationally who were nominated by the National Institutes of Health and awarded at the White House for our achievements to create accountable-care solutions. This past month, we started a three-year collaboration with Idaho universities to demonstrate to the world how rural families can get earlier diagnosis and treatment via our Behavior Imaging platform.

Idaho provides a unique culture and support network for innovative entrepreneurs who have a vision and want to affect change in their community. I will be forever grateful for the support our family and company received, which is why I am committed to paying that support forward and encouraging those who are inspired by something in their life to try to make this world a better place.

The Idaho Technology Council offered such encouragement at its inaugural Capital Connect Conference Oct. 22. There, in addition to distributing five years of trend data about Idaho’s economy, the ITC connected entrepreneurs and successful business leaders. Data revealed how money comes into the state and how it affects our companies. The event was a showcase of Idaho’s dynamic business environment and promoted greater collaboration within the business community.

Inspiration runs rampant at an event like this. The conference also offered a chance for Idaho’s entrepreneurs as well as established organizations to review a data-driven analysis and create a benchmark to help us move the economy forward. The conference offered Idaho’s big thinkers an opportunity to gather together, connect and share innovative ideas.

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