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Medical Student Wins Pitch Competitions for Health Care App Startup

Patients will soon be able to select the optimal location and provider for elective procedures based on price, performance, and in-network availability of physicians, thanks to Crystal Clear — a startup application created by Miriyam Ghali, an M.D./M.B.A. candidate at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Patti and Allan Herbert Business School.

As a dual-degree student, Ghali has been able to combine her passions for medicine and business to create a needed product. After learning about the complexities of surprise medical billing from Karoline Mortensen, Ph.D., associate professor at Miami Herbert Business School, Ghali realized there had to be a better solution for her future patients.

Miriyam Ghali presenting her product.
Miriyam Ghali presented Crystal Clear at the 2022 eMerge Americas Startup Tech Conference.

“The demand for something like Crystal Clear is huge,” Ghali said. “As a future physician, I’m bothered that my services could potentially bankrupt a patient and their family. When patients leave my care, the only thing they should focus on is their health and recovery, not how much it’s going to cost them. My mission for Crystal Clear is to provide cost transparency to all patients.”

Pitch Perfect

Crystal Clear works by sharing pricing and electronic clinical quality measures data with patients before they enter the hospital. With this information, individuals can take control of their medical finances, and physicians can receive fair compensation within a marketplace focused on delivering high-quality, value-based care.

Ghali sees the app as a straightforward solution to a very complex issue. There are currently no other applications like it, and she believes that it has the potential to change the tone of health care delivery. Once the concept for Crystal Clear was in place, Ghali developed her business plan with the help of Richard Toren, a lecturer at Miami Herbert, entrepreneur, and inventor of the EpiPen.

“Miriyam is one of those rare birds that exhibits several important traits that portend success,” Toren said. “She has foresight in recognizing a thorny problem in health care, and has shown that execution is more critical than just an idea, as seen in her practical business plan. One need not have a graduate education to understand the value proposition and how it is presented by Crystal Clear.”

Ghali competed in Miami Herbert’s Startup Pitch Competition, placing first and winning $5,000, then placed second at the school’s 20th Annual Business Plan Competition to win an additional $10,000.

“My success at these competitions has shown me that I have what it takes to be a great entrepreneur,” Ghali said. “Putting myself out there and stepping far outside of my comfort zone has been rewarding, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Crystal Clear.”

Further Success at eMerge

Her showing at the UM competitions earned Ghali an invitation to the 2022 eMerge Americas Startup Tech Conference, where she was awarded one of the first $50,000 Business Innovation Start-Up (BizUp) Grants by Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Commissioner Jean Monestime. The grants aim to reward local small businesses investing in tech and innovation.

Miriyam Ghali showing off her prize.
Ghali was one of Miami-Dade County’s first BizUp grant winners.

With over $65,000 in equity-free funding from this year alone, Ghali is now able to realize her vision and take Crystal Clear from concept to reality. Her next steps involve expanding her team. She is currently in conversations with venture capital firms, application developers, and software engineers who believe in her mission. Ghali is also seeking additional equity-free funding from angel investors.

“The eMerge experience was like nothing I had encountered before,” Ghali said. “Over 200 guests stopped by my booth to learn about Crystal Clear, and nearly everyone wanted to collaborate, join my team, or become a future client. It was also amazing to meet other entrepreneurs launching their own tech startups, most of which are based here in Miami. I’m excited and grateful for these unique opportunities and connections.”

Tags: Commissioner Jean Monestime, eMerge Americas, M.D./M.B.A. program, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Miami Herbert Business School, Miami-Dade County BizUp Grant Program, Miller School, Miriyam Ghali, startup