Healthcare Dealmakers: The Future of AI, Risks & Opportunities in Substance Abuse

Panelists and speakers discuss issues facing companies, investors, and advisers during the Healthcare Dealmakers 2018 Conference at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas.

Healthcare Dealmakers - entrepreneur Dave Copps

Well-known Dallas tech entrepreneur Dave Copps told those attending the Healthcare Dealmakers Conference that artificial intelligence is the wave of the future because data is, well, really important.

Dave Copps

Copps, founder and former CEO of Brainspace, a Cyxtera Business, is a technologist who focuses on the what role machine learning and AI will play in transforming global markets. He has founded, launched, and sold three companies in the past 15 years.

“The most valuable naturally occurring resource in the world is data,” Copps said. And, that value is increasing.

AI makes using that data easier and more powerful, he said.

“We’re going to be living in a big science experiment.”
Dave Copps

“The more data you put together, the learning is exponential,” Copps told attendees.

Copps posed the question, “What is AI?” to his audience.

“AI is the science of teaching machines to learn and think like a new species with radically evolved thinking capabilities that learns nothing like we do,” Copps said.

He said that Facebook and Google are leading the way in AI, an industry that saw $12.4 billion in deals between 2012 and 2017.

“They’re buying more AI companies than anyone in the world,” Copps said. “We haven’t seen anything yet, its the tip of the iceberg.”

He said that because of the proliferation of devices around the globe, that we live in a trillion-sensor world.

“We’re going to be living in a big science experiment,” Copps said, citing three elements that are driving technology forward — data, hardware, and software. “We’re living in a really interesting time right now.”

Copps also said that the spread of AI won’t diminish the number of jobs for humans.

“We’re not going to run out of jobs,” he said. “We’re going to run out of problems.”

Insight Optics

Tani Weiner (left) of Polsinelli in San Francisco, and Kevin Taggart (right) managing parnter of Mertz Taggart in Fort Myers, Florida, listen to Ray Tamasi, founder and president of the Gosnold Innovation Center, G, speak about the opioid crisis.


In the panel, “The Substance Use Crisis, Risks, and Opportunities,” a group of experts discussed the investment potential of the health-care companies who are tackling the national crisis that took more than 42,000 lives in 2016.

Many nonprofit and for-profit organizations have taken on the care and treatment of people with substance abuse problems. Roughly 40 million people ages 12 and older abuse or are addicted to nicotine, alcohol, or drugs including opioids in the U.S. alone.

Ray Tamasi, president and founder of the Gosnold Innovation Center, listens to another panelist’s point during the panel, “The Substance Use Crisis: Risks and Opportunities.”

The panelists — Karen Meador, senior physician executive at BDO in New York; Tani Weiner, a Polsinelli shareholder in San Francisco; Ray Tamasi, president and founder of Gosnold Innovation Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts; and Kevin Taggart, managing partner of Mertz Taggart in Fort Myers, Florida — told the conference attendees that while there are investment opportunities in this sector of the mental health arena, there are risks as well as rewards.

“Medication is the most significant advance in the last four to five years.”

Ray Tamasi

Included among those factors are the levels of regulation involved in addiction treatment, reimbursements, and new technologies and approaches. Are those facilities involved in Medication-Assisted Treatment, such as Methadone, Naltroxene, and others, or are they detox centers where patients spend a prescribed period of time under the supervision of health-care professionals ridding their systems of the substances and dealing with the effects of withdrawal?

There are major distinctions, advantages, and disadvantages to either when you’re considering investing in this mental health sector, the panel said.

“Medication is the most significant advance in the last four to five years,” said Tamasi, who operates a Massachusetts-based mental health facility. He said new technologies are an important factor in the future of substance abuse treatment.

Weiner added that more collaboration in the industry, along with new technology, will serve as a bridge to new treatments.

Healthcare Dealmakers Chair Bobby Guy visits with attendees at a reception.


Healthcare Dealmakers is one of the nation’s premier events that brings together health-care providers, their capital sources, and advisers.

Presented by the Polsinelli law firm, the conference’s aim is to offer discussions on the opportunities and challenges in dealmaking in the health-care sector. 

Conference chair Bobby Guy, a Polsinelli shareholder in the firm’s Nashville, Tennessee office, said that demand to attend this year’s conference was overwhelming with 270 people signed up.

“We were oversold,” Guy said, of the conference that concluded on Thursday.


Photos by Lance Murray.

Jon Henderson, managing partner of Polsinelli’s Dallas office, visits with Steven Finklea, of UMB Bank in Houston, and Bob Dunn of UMB in Austin during a reception at the Healthcare Dealmakers Conference at the Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas.

Attendees listen to a panel at the Healthcare Dealmakers Conference put on by Polsinelli.

Panelist talk about legal issues in the health-care arena during the panel “Diligence and Integration: Capitalizing on Your Acquisition” at the Healthcare Dealmakers Conference.


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