A Force of New
WISE Healthcare enables virtual care through health information technology, workflow engineering, and physician services to transform the landscape of care delivery as we know it.
WISE Healthcare enables virtual care through health information technology, workflow engineering, and physician services to transform the landscape of care delivery as we know it.
WISE Healthcare first developed and applied its proprietary Innovation Change Approach (INCA) for the County of Los Angeles with L.A. Care Health Plan, the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles Department of Health Services. The WISE team continues to apply InCA while spreading eConsult throughout the Inland Empire via the Multi-County eConsult Initiative (MCeI). So far WISE has guided 86 primary care clinics to utilize eConsult and onboarded over 100 specialists across 38 specialty services. More than 50,000 eConsults have occurred already.
Focused on using technology to improve the efficiency of healthcare delivery, WISE Healthcare is involved in projects aimed to improve the quality of patient care.
WISE Healthcare partners with organizations that share our vision to transform healthcare. They support us in delivering service and tools.
As a recent graduate from the University of Redlands, Sarah Taquet has earned a B.S. in Global Business and a B.A. in Asian Studies. During her time at the U of R, Sarah served as Chancellor of the Delta Sigma Pi Professional Business Fraternity, educated peers as a teaching assistant for the Global Business department, and received special recognition as an Outstanding Global Business Scholar. Sarah was also a Redlands Peer Advisor, helping 25 first year students navigate their first semester in college while serving as a mentor in their Business in China seminar.
In conjunction with the extracurriculars and awards she earned, she also studied abroad in London, Beijing, and Shanghai. In China Sarah gained high language proficiency in Mandarin, growing her linguistic knowledge base already comprised of fluency in English, fluency in French as a natural-born Parisian, and the ability to read and write in Spanish.
A globe-trotter with a cross-cultural background, Sarah possesses both passion and expertise in international strategy. Having developed and customized a marketing strategy for Eye Care Professionals at Essilor International, she is also well-versed in marketing and sales.
As the oldest of four, Sarah has always valued kindness, leadership, and helping others. She strives to embody these qualities in her professional career and is driven to make a positive impact on the world around her.
In her free time, Sarah enjoys going on hikes and reading science fiction/ fantasy books. Her favorite authors are Sarah J Maas and Pierce Brown, and she is a huge fan of Game of Thrones.
As a young professional and graduate from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Lisa seeks to contribute her curiosity and drive for communicating about science and technology through her work at WISE Healthcare. During her time at UCLA she served as a reporter and photographer for the Arts & Entertainment section of the school paper—The Daily Bruin—where she authored 50+ articles and launched a column to explore crossovers between the arts and various scientific fields. There, she garnered her ability to coordinate joint efforts within a multi-disciplinary ecosystem teeming with creatives, scientists, politicians, academics, and more to attain a unified vision in a quick-paced environment.
Hailing from a background in art history and philosophy, Lisa wields her humanities training and sensibilities to infuse WISE’s communications with meaningful, approachable content through a range of formats including newsletters, press releases, blog posts, and journalistic/academic articles. She grapples with data and testimonials to produce WISE’s internal and public-facing materials about health information technology, artificial intelligence, and healthcare delivery transformation methods in medical practice for audiences of stakeholders, physicians, and the wider public.
Her personal mission is to use her writing and communication skills to disseminate knowledge about culture, science, and technology to educate and empower society at large.
When she is not reading and writing about the latest news in the worlds of arts and sciences, Lisa is likely practicing yoga, hiking with her dogs Cookie and Mushu, or pestering her two sisters.
Mika’ele (Mik) Cruz earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Pacific Union College, following through with an M.B.A. from the University of Redlands in 2015. After earning his degrees, Mik partook in growing a range of health and fitness, marketing, and technology startups and organizations. At these organizations, he occupied numerous roles across a multitude of functions including operations, business development, marketing, product development, and project management.
Co-founder of his own nutraceutical and skincare company, Mik managed dozens of large-budget projects and launched all of its products. In under three years, Mik managed a team of 1000 independent sales representatives that grew a $40,000 investment into over $1.4M in annual sales, simultaneously fostering the company’s expansion to all 50 states—and eventually internationally.
Combining experience with a project-oriented approach and people-skills, Mik has been successful in leveraging media to grow sales and foster industry partnerships. In a recent role as product marketing consultant, he assisted in marketing efforts to extend multi-million Medicare funding for the US Territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the CNMI). At the same time that Mik launched Cruz Business Consulting in 2018, he earned an advanced certificate in entrepreneurship and innovation from MIT.
Mik is a self-proclaimed pizza and coffee officianado.
Board certified as a family practitioner and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Steven (Steve) E. Davis has been practicing private family medicine for over 32 years. His academic and career background bears testimony to a rich combination of professional core values. Among them, providing educational and clinical services and supporting innovative health-technologies have proven integral to Steve’s contributions in healthcare. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Baylor University, Steve pursued his DO and his Master’s in Health Profession Education from Western University of Health Science.
Since then he has accumulated a diverse repertoire of business development and clinical service through numerous leadership roles. While occupying different positions at Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital (MLKCH), Steve honed his specialization in improving physician-patient interactions, the patient experience, and physician interaction while using electronic medical records. In recent years, he served as interim Chief Medical Officer and Chief Medical Informatics Officer at MLKCH, where he coordinated with the University of California Los Angeles, the county of Los Angeles, and a non-private organization to rebuild and open a private non-profit hospital in Los Angeles—the MLKCH. Working with a projected $30 million build budget, he significantly reduced costs through design and simplification.
Delving into his knowledge experience from offering 25 years of medical staff leadership, Steve led the recruitment and mentoring of staff, as well as developed key policies and procedures. It was during his guidance that MLKCH became the only hospital to reach HIMSS Analytics Stage 6 in its first year of operation in 2016, and the highest HIMSS stage 7 in 2018. Beyond his mentorship at the MLKCH, Steve also prioritized education by lecturing at medical schools and universities on ethics and the business of medicine, additionally helping develop curriculums.
Alongside his clinical work currently based in San Dimas, Steve serves as Medical Director for both PACIS HealthCare Partners and the MLK Community Medical Group. As Medical Director for the group, Steve develops primary care and multi-specialty clinics in the inner city of Los Angeles. Steve joined the WISE team in 2018 to advise on strategy and recruiting, also acting as our family practice liaison.
William Jih is a family medicine physician who has been practicing in the Inland Empire area since early 2002. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his medical degree from Albany Medical College of Union University. His residency in family medicine was completed at Loma Linda Medical Center where he also served as chief resident. Throughout his career, he has served as a medical informatics liaison officer, the vice chair to the department of family medicine, medical director, and more, all at Loma Linda University Medical Center. Additionally, he served as chief medical officer of a large private multi-specialty medical group in the Inland Empire. A lifelong learner, Dr. Jih achieved his MBA from Louisiana State University in 2019.
His experience is vast, with numerous awards to validate his medical excellence, starting with the resident teaching award and the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Best Practice Recognition award for diabetes as well as the NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition award. He was awarded the Loma Linda Medical Center Physician Leader in Quality Prize in 2009. As a scholar he has presented on numerous topics including sexual violence, preventive care quality improvement, and systematic approach to medication reconciliation, all of which will help in his work with WISE Healthcare.
Board certified in Family Medicine and Clinical Informatics, Dr. Jih is also a member of the Medical Group Management Association, American Medical Group Association, the American Academy of Family Practice, American Medical Association, and more. He is a California native and enjoys sports and photography.
Lisa Altman, MD, is the director of innovation in healthcare at WISE Healthcare. She is a leader in clinical primary care with over 30 years of experience serving the public. She earned her medical degree from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine, where she completed her residency in internal medicine, her fellowship in hematology and oncology, and served as chief resident of the UCLA San Fernando Valley Program. Her clinical specialties include primary care, women’s health, and virtual care.
Dr. Altman is passionate about innovative whole person healthcare and worked to evaluate and implement changes in healthcare delivery that streamline and improve the patient experience. She has worked to expand the adoption of patient-centered practices in a variety of clinical leadership roles for the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System including associate program director of the Internal Medicine Training Program, director of administrative medicine and employee health, as well as associate chief of staff, overseeing ambulatory and primary care provision across 13 clinics serving 90,000 patients. She is also deeply committed to training and mentoring health care professionals as the director of a women’s health fellowship and a clinical professor of medicine at the UCLA School of Medicine.
Dr. Altman brings her vast medical knowledge, and invaluable years of experience developing and implementing integrated, innovative clinical programs that incorporate virtual care to WISE Healthcare. Dr. Altman is based in Los Angeles where she enjoys spending time with her husband, two dogs, and three daughters.
Sarah O’Connor is passionate about improving the quality of care for patients and health care professionals. In her life experience, she has seen first-hand the challenges that health care organizations face implementing systems designed to streamline timely and effective communication. Sarah grew up in in the San Francisco Peninsula near Stanford University, a community that prizes innovation. Her early education included a charter school, which has developed game changing models for project-based learning. She continued her education at University of Redlands, where she studied environmental science.
As an intern at Mamoní Valley Preserve, Panama, Sarah participated in research to assess the viability of monetizing forest ecosystems. She was co-leader with a team that mapped data for water shed change analysis. The team produced 3-D maps of the data for conservation activities and presented findings to key stakeholders in Panama. She subsequently presented this research at the ESRI user conference in San Diego, California. Key in these discussions was implementation of ESRI’s applications.
Sarah highly values community service and it is fundamental to her desire to make the world we share healthier. Through hands on work with Adaptive Physical Education in the Redlands Unified School District, she developed an appreciation for the importance of public policy in scaling systems for our special needs populations. Through her facilitating role, Sarah helped professional educators in their work with clients who are “at risk” in the general education environment. She also volunteers with the Redlands Family YMCA.
While at University of Redlands, Sarah worked for the Office of Alumni and Community Relations. As she advanced in her role there, she was given increasing responsibility for community engagement, event management, marketing communications and web site development. She helped develop and implement programs that improve the visibility and effectiveness of customer facing programs. Sarah lives in Redlands, California.
Nida Javed is passionate about ensuring patient safety and quality in all aspects of healthcare delivery. Nida grew up in Ontario, California, and attended Ontario High School. From there, she went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Boston College and a Master of Business Administration in healthcare administration from Loma Linda University.
Before joining WISE Healthcare, Nida worked in infection control and prevention at Kaiser Permanente. She worked with leadership, nurses, and physicians at both Riverside and Moreno Valley facilities to ensure best infection control practices and compliance with CDC guidelines. She led dynamic projects and education initiatives that promoted patient safety and quality at the facilities.
Along with experience in healthcare quality, Nida has also worked in healthcare finance at Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP). She joined IEHP when the Affordable Care Act was implemented, and IEHP member growth surged as more people were able to access healthcare. To ensure that correct and timely capitation payments were submitted to providers during this rapid growth, Nida led monthly problem-solving projects that involved understanding and then teaching and implementing the rapidly changing business rules and coding them correctly for audits. She feels fortunate, through her work at IEHP, she has been able to serve the community in which she grew up. Her career also includes an internship at Loma Linda University Medical Center as a quality management intern, and a role as a writer at the Loma Linda University Health Systems School of Religion.
Nida aspires to work toward continuous improvement in healthcare delivery and access. She believes in the power of compassion and empathy and hopes to exemplify these qualities in her professional life. In her free time, Nida enjoys reading historical fiction. She is fascinated by all fictional/non-fictional work that came out of WWII and how each narrative exemplifies the idea that “the road to Auschwitz was built by hate but paved with indifference.” She aims to lead a life that puts care for others first.
Specialized in finance and data analysis, Ken Okura is experienced in working in finance and administration at nonprofit organizations, including hospitals and charities. Ken is currently engaged in the finance department for Greg Facktor & Associates, a professional consulting firm with a focus on healthcare. He is charged with collecting financial data, performing financial analysis, and developing Medicare cost reports.
While at Sharp Memorial Hospital, one of San Diego’s largest healthcare systems, Ken was responsible for managing the finances of the Patient Grievance Subcommittee department, creating historical data trends and financial projections of the department, identifying the issues, and finding cost-savings opportunities.
Ken served as a finance intern at Plant With Purpose, an international development organization dedicated to improving the lives of people living in extreme poverty in developing countries. He created geographical mapping reports of incoming donations to the organization to identify the largest donating regions within the United States. He also forecast the financial projection of Plant With Purpose and identified an unforeseen financial threat to the organization. His discovery enabled the agency to implement new practices in finance and operations to ensure long-term solvency.
Ken has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a concentration in finance from the University of San Diego (USD). While pursuing his education at USD, he served as the leader of the finance club. He recruited guest speakers, including CEOs, CFOs, and other top executives in the finance industry to share their knowledge with club members. He led his club’s team to prepare for weekly meetings, promoted the club to increase membership, and ensured that all members were gaining valuable academic and professional insight to prepare them for their professional careers in finance. Outside of work, Ken enjoys hiking and camping, and is an accomplished outdoor photographer.
With nearly twenty years of experience as an executive assistant, Jess Ayala has developed the organizational skills and forward thinking needed to keep the WISE Healthcare team on track and moving forward. She assumes numerous roles at WISE, including special projects manager, senior workflow engineer, lead physician liaison, and office manager. Jess adeptly manages the schedules for WISE Healthcare executives, coordinates educational events, assists with onboarding new clinics to the Multi-County eConsult Initiative, and conducts field visits to resolve any issues. Her commitment to excellence motivates the team and inspires confidence in all with whom she interfaces.
Prior to joining WISE Healthcare, Jess worked for WISE Healthcare Chief Executive Officer Sajid Ahmed at two other organizations – Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital where Sajid was the chief information and innovation officer and prior to that, at LA Care Health Plan where Sajid was the director of health IT. At the hospital she assisted with coordinating the meetings and communications for the Health IT team, one of the hospital’s largest departments with more than 40 staff members. She also managed contracts with numerous vendors and organizations, implementing systems and software to ensure the fulfillment of all contractual obligations. Jess kept the department morale strong and employee retention high with her knack for having fun. She coordinated monthly potlucks, departmental celebrations, and lent her creativity to planning hospital wide events as well.
Jess is a mother of three daughters, and a grandmother of one granddaughter. Jess enjoys her free time out on the open road, tuned in to her favorite music. One of her favorite destinations is San Francisco, where she finds hidden gems each time she visits. She also enjoys baking, reading and writing poetry. Jess is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration with a minor in project management from Ashford University.
Dr. Shelton is board certified in urology and clinical informatics. He grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in history and psychology from the University of Colorado. His medical education includes his Medical Doctorate from Weill Cornell Medical College at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He subsequently obtained a Master of Science in health services degree from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). He completed his urology residency training at UCLA along with a fellowship in health services research at UCLA. During his fellowship he began to pursue his interest in informatics, working to create an informatics platform and population health management program for patients with bladder cancer at the Veterans Administration (VA) Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. He currently spends half of his time in the Department of Informatics at the VA Greater Los Angeles. He is also affiliated with other Southern California hospitals, including Torrance Memorial Medical Center.
Dr. Shelton continues his work at the intersection of informatics, quality improvement and implementation science. He has published work on electronic clinical quality metrics, as well as the use of a computerized clinical decision support tool to improve appropriate use of PSA screening. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Urology at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, and serves on various professional society committees at the American Urological Association, the Large Urology Group Practice Association and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Dr. Shelton’s interest in patient centered care inspired him to lead the implementation of the first general urology telehealth clinic in the VA, which has now served over 1,700 Veterans. He has also worked on quality improvement projects in community urology practices in Los Angeles and across the country and has presented this work at the American Urological Association (AUA).
Gerald (Gerry) Gagner joined WISE Healthcare in 2018 after more than eight years of successful management experience in the hospitality sector, where he worked as a general manager for Panera Bread. One of his key accomplishments in that role was overseeing the opening of a new Panera Bread drive-thru café. His strategic planning, project management and recruiting skills resulted in record breaking sales in the café’s first week of business. Gerry’s focus on quality led to his store earning a score of 100% on an external food safety audit for the first time in that market’s history.
As Gerry’s accomplishments grew, he was consistently given new responsibilities, including serving as the data analyst for his store’s market area. He presented market trends and analytics to Panera Bread regional stakeholders. He was asked to assist in a store that was struggling. Putting to work the same workflow engineering skills that he will call on in his new role at WISE Healthcare, Gerry implemented new processes, hired a new management team and the store responded with improved profits and productivity. A respected leader, Gerry hired more than 100 employees during a time of upward growth. His training and development skills along with his motivational management style resulted in consistently low employee turnover and positive morale. An accomplished communicator, Gerry shared secrets to success and motivational messages to his colleagues in other cafés through a regular series of “Shout-Outs” in which he reported performance metrics and best practices.
Gerry was born and raised in Corona, California and has lived in the Inland Empire all his life. He graduated from the University of Redlands with a Bachelor of Science in business. He lives in Lake Elsinore with his fiancée and two dogs. In his free time, he enjoys fishing, hunting and motorcycle riding.
Alvin Kwong brings to WISE Healthcare experience that spans the healthcare industry – academia, hospitals, medical groups, insurance companies, consulting companies, and Federally Qualified Health Centers. Alvin has 10 years of dynamic healthcare management, consulting, and entrepreneurial experience driving innovative solutions. His project management experience began with managing and coordinating multimillion-dollar grants at the University of California, Los Angeles. He led a team of workflow engineers to conduct assessments of Santa Clara County community health centers’ workflow, data quality, practice management, and registry systems, and implemented team-based strategies for care coordination. Additionally, he authored a systematic literature review of various team-based strategies for coordinating care.
His next ventures included leadership positions at several consulting companies. At Kaiser Permanente Consulting, he conducted training programs for concurrent review teams in the behavioral health department. Next, Alvin delved into strategic planning and financial modeling for health centers throughout the United States. More recently, Alvin honed his business intelligence and data analytics skills with a physician management company, implementing pay-for-performance programs and revamping the business intelligence department by compiling a data warehouse and creating dashboards and reports for over 30 contracted ER and hospitalist programs.
Most recently, Alvin spearheaded the development of a business intelligence division at Greg Facktor and Associates (GFA), a leading professional consulting firm in California with a focus on the healthcare industry. He also served as project manager for large grants for the Health Infrastructure Investment Program (HIIP) and Service Expansion Programs at Federally Qualified Health Centers. His breadth, depth, and understanding of the industry is valued by his clients, who trust him to make sustainable and strategic decisions and navigate them within the changing healthcare landscape.
Alvin received a Master of Public Health in healthcare management and health policy from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and cell biology from the University of California, San Diego. When not at work, Alvin spends his time outdoors cycling and golfing.
With his expertise in relationship building, team management, and sales training, Matthew (Matt) Widney brings a rich skillset to the WISE team. Matt possesses over a decade’s worth of experience in management at large scale grocery markets including Stater Brothers, and most recently Clark’s Nutrition. Occupying such positions, Matt developed a strong set of effective communication skills while working with team members and customers alike to reach optimal outcomes for clients.
His detail-oriented approach benefited the maintenance of complex inventories and smooth oversight of day to day operations of a 40,000 square foot store generating more than $12M in annual revenue. Meanwhile, he also engaged in leadership and problem-solving to direct sales floor activities ensuring excellence in customer service. As Assistant Manager at Clark’s Nutrition Matt developed and implemented performance development and training initiatives which optimized staff performance and resulted in continuous surpassing of sales quotas. Having experienced difficulties with obtaining timely treatment for a sports injury, Matt personally relates to and recognizes the significance of crafting efficiencies in access to specialty care and improving the healthcare system. This interest drew Matt to WISE Healthcare as a workflow engineer, where he is able to apply the same skills—providing helpful service, eliciting effective communication and presentation, and deploying organization strategies—to a cause in healthcare. He now seeks to supplement his working background with the academic pursuit of a Business Administration degree from the University of Redlands.
When Matt isn’t working, you can find him playing basketball, snowboarding, or hiking.