2024 Summit Schedule

ABA Payor Summit
April 1, 2024
10:00 am - 3:00 pm

ABA Payor Summit

A collaborative learning opportunity available only to payors and insurers of the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy benefit.

Learn more about the ABA Payor Summit

Welcome Reception
April 1, 2024
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Welcome Reception

Meet fellow attendees while enjoying your favorite beverage. The event will focus on creating meaningful connections in small groups to facilitate networking and learning.

Sponsored by CentralReach

Day 1
April 2, 2024
7:00 am - 8:30 am


Sponsored by TripleTree

8:00 am - 8:30 am

Coffee with Sponsors

8:30 am - 8:45 am

Welcome & Introductory Remarks

Sara Litvak

Sara Litvak, Co-Founder of the Autism Investor Summit, welcomes everyone to the 2024 Autism Investor Summit!

8:45 am - 9:30 am

Keynote: Autism Services M&A: Down, But Not Out

Dexter Braff

At last year’s conference, we noted the beginnings of a falloff in autism services M&A – down from a record breaking 46 transactions posted in 2019, but not by much as in each of the past three years, we recorded 41-43 transactions. Headwinds were gathering from many directions, but it was unclear how the sector would hold up. A year later, it’s clear that after an extraordinary 5-year run, autism services M&A has taken a hit. In this session, we will discuss why activity has stumbled, how autism has performed compared to other health care sectors and the broad market as a whole, the outlook for 2024, and initiatives prospective sellers can execute now to take advantage of the inevitable rebound.

9:45 am - 10:30 am

Session 2A: M&A 101

In this session, we will begin with an introduction to a standard M&A process, defining terms and process steps. We'll review the ways to prepare your organization for a sale, what buyers are looing for and what a typical transition looks like.

9:45 am - 10:30 am

Session 2B: Negotiating Better Reimbursement Rate: Changing the Payor-Provider Dynamic from Transactional to Relational

Alden Romney
Rick Loewenstein

Do you have a solid working relationship with your commercial and Medicaid Payors? Or is your relationship merely transactional and often frustrating?

It all starts with investing in the Payor relationship, then building a strong Payor Relations Platform. This disciplined approach impacts almost every department of your autism therapy practice and is often the most overlooked. Whether it is rate negotiation, contracting, credentialing, VBC, APMs, clinical performance, accounts receivable, growth, or just creating open lines of communication, developing a working relationship with your Payors is imperative to growth and success.

This presentation will focus on the key components necessary for building a sustainable relationship with your payors.

This presentation is targeted to:

- Providers seeking to increase reimbursement rates and improve, build, and enhance strong working relationships with Payors.
- Investors seeking to grow and scale existing markets and target acquisitions locally, regionally, and nationally
- Payors and other industry experts seeking trusted provider partners

9:45 am - 10:30 am

Session 2C: Strategic Real Estate Moves for Growth & Efficiency

Chessa Pike
Stuart Thomas

Are you in a rapid growth phase? Is your team trying to figure out the most strategic sites that will optimize patient care and earning potential?

In this session we will explore various challenges that Autism providers are facing and how we take a data-driven approach to make sound real estate decisions. Some themes include:

- How to scale while maintaining the integrity of your organization
- Sustainable growth – avoid the pitfalls of launching too many sites too quickly
- How to determine locations that attract and retain quality providers and staff
- Using demographics, claims data, and competitive landscape to identify profitable areas
- Avoiding internal cannibalization of your own sites by analyzing trade areas with mass mobile data

Sponsored by CBRE

10:30 am - 10:45 am


Sponsored by Holland & Knight

Session 3A: Behind Closed Doors: How Do Potential Buyers Discuss Your Business?

Zach Winter
John Reedy
Paul Martin
Anya Perea

In this panel, we will discuss conversations that investment committees are having when valuing businesses and make investment decisions. This starts with how buyers put together their investment thesis and strategy to create a context under which we are evaluating potential targets. Will talk through how different companies choose which targets to evaluate to start with. How does the strategy differ if it is a brokered deal, or if it’s a proprietary deal? Then will walk through the key items that affect valuation up or down. What are the things we care the most about? What can the process look like, and what can you learn about how the deal process is progressing? Will include explanations of the questions we love to hear from sellers, and also what are the red flags we see from a seller. What range of negotiation we typically expect and the kinds of negotiating tactics that are more appealing, and which are less appealing.

10:45 am - 11:30 am

Session 3B: Game Changing Culture: Private Equity Has Nothing To Do With Bad Culture

Michael Cairnes

The development of this paper and presentation is the culmination of an unpredictable journey that started many years ago. Early in 2000, our third child was diagnosed with Autism which spawned a lifetime of learning and appreciation for clinicians. Meanwhile, my career brought me to senior level positions with multibillion-dollar retail businesses. The one common thread of success and the edge was creating a purposeful, joyful, and winning culture. Yet, many companies believe they have great culture, but, like the emperor with no clothes, it's apparent they don't.

And now in the ABA world with JoyBridge Kids, it's more important than ever to manifest a game changing culture because our kids and clinicians depend on it. At the same time, the ABA world is cynical and does not trust Private Equity. PE has nothing to do with bad culture, it's the leadership team.

In a little over year, we have gone from one clinic to nine clinics and we're helping over 200 kids and families in a profound way at the highest level of clinical quality. Here are the seven principles of Game Changing Culture:
1. Build a Cohesive and Unshakable Leadership Team
2. Articulate a Genuine Mission That Resonates - It's About the Kids
3. Create Absolute Clarity in Direction and Focused Operating Disciplines
4. Massively Overcommunicate
5. Keep the Lines of Communication Wide Open - Build Proactive Trust
6. Teach and Develop the Clinic Leaders Like Crazy
7. Create a Halo of Joy

10:45 am - 11:30 am

Session 3C: Unlocking Economies-of-Scale in ABA: The Power of Bots Encoded with Best Practices

Scott Dickson

In today's ABA landscape of limited reimbursement rates, operational efficiency is paramount to win BT talent and serve the excess demand to fuel growth. During this session you’ll learn innovative strategies that address the challenges of consolidation and achieving economies of scale in the ABA sector.

Our discussion will delve into the power of automation and how it can reduce M&A and operational costs, enabling providers to flourish without having to become business experts. We will also showcase real-world examples of how the concept of encoding best practices into bots can transform ABA operations.

By attending this panel discussion, providers and investors will gain valuable knowledge on strategies for how to minimize M&A costs and unlock economies-of-scale.

Sponsored by Simple Fractal

Session 4A: The National Autism Data Registry, More Than Just Data Collection

Mike Germain
Allison Allgood
Timothy Yeager
Dennis May
Anna Bullard

AIS is excited to feature a session spotlighting the National Autism Data Registry (NADR), a pioneering data platform designed to elevate the standard of autism care.

The NADR is an innovative system aimed at understanding, measuring, and improving autism treatment and outcomes through critical data aggregation across process, structure, outcome, and cost measures. It supplies unparalleled insights for ABA providers and payors into treatment efficacy and outcomes.

Discover practical applications of NADR, shared by early adopters, showcasing its transformative potential in business practices, patient outcomes, and constructive payor discussions. We'll also focus on NADR's robust security measures and ML algorithms, safeguarding patient data and refining care quality assessments.

11:45 am - 12:30 pm

Session 4B: Financial Best Practices Learned from Recent Acquisitions

Matt Gill

The presentation will cover prospective buyers' key areas of focus on financial statements & KPIs, risks/issues identified during recent M&A processes, and how companies can best prepare for & mitigate potential deal issues before going to market.

11:45 am - 12:30 pm

Session 4C: Sponsored Session

12:30 pm - 4:30 pm

"Speed Dating" — One-on-One Meetings with Investors

12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Lunch Break

1:30 pm - 2:15 pm

Session 5: Fireside Chat with Doreen Granpeesheh, Moderated by Jon Krieger

Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh
Jon Krieger

Doreen Granpeesheh built the Center for Autism and Related Disorders into a national chain and sold it to private equity firm Blackstone in a $600 million deal. Now, in an unexpected twist, she bought the bankrupt company for a much smaller sum.

Jon Krieger sits down with CARD Founder and CEO, Doreen Granpeesheh nearly 6 months post-reacquistion to discuss what happened, how we got here, and where do we go from here. This intimate discussion will address the future of both the organization and Dr. Granpeesheh's outlook on the ABA and behavioral health market.

2:15 pm - 2:30 pm


Session 6A: AI Use Cases Along the Autism Patient Journey: Learnings from the Data Trenches

David Stevens
Dr. Hanna Rue
Dr. David Cox
Dr. Ellie Kazemi
Yagnesh Vadgama

For many, artificial intelligence (AI) had its coming out party in 2023. Now it’s time for AI to live up to the hype to address challenges facing ABA such as: increased ASD prevalence exacerbating access challenges; the rate of new providers entering the field; and payers seeking to understand and optimize their networks. For those feeling behind, fortunately, many example AI use cases demonstrate significant improvement in all aspects of a patient’s ABA journey for autistic individuals. In this presentation, we describe the current landscape of AI use cases aimed at improving care quality while maintaining/reducing cost along the autism patient journey. Clinically, for example, AI is being used to better: identify patient profiles with novel granularity; identify provider profiles based on their organizational expertise and service delivery styles; match patients to providers to optimize patient outcomes; identify optimal hours of ABA; and recommend treatment goals/pathways that maximize patient outcomes. Operationally, for example, AI is being used to: automate and optimize scheduling; automate or minimize billing-related tasks; and monitor the individual and group-level provider performance. As the saying goes, “AI is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” Audience members, including investors in ABA practices who seek to further differentiate their services and compete for value-based care contracts, will come away with tractable ways their company can add AI into their clinical and operational processes to separate themselves from their peers on overall impact to care quality and cost.

Session 6B: Fast Pitch Sessions

Conner Herman
Mal Sridhar
Amanda “Mandy” Ralston

Hear from emerging startups as they pitch their startup to a panel of judges, competing for the Autism Innovator Award. This event is generously sponsored by SimiTree.

2:30 pm - 3:15 pm

Session 6C: Sponsored Session

3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Session 7A: The Importance of Parents to a Child’s Treatment Success: A Payer’s & A Provider’s Perspective

Jonathan Mueller
Dr. Tiffany Hodges

What’s the ROI of strong parent engagement? In our experience: it’s one of the most important (yet least invested in) activities that ABA providers need to do to ensure their child stays - and thrives - in treatment. We’ll share both a payer’s and a provider’s model of parent engagement that lead to higher achievement of intended graduation rates, and improved parent satisfaction.

3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Session 7B: Story-Telling Sessions

Carlos Weil
Dr. Doreen Samelson

Join us for a session of community, story-telling, and inspiration from individuals who have perspectives or experiences that will expand the way you think about common approaches to supporting autism.

3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Session 7C: Sponsored Session

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Networking Reception

Day 2
April 3, 2024
7:00 am - 8:30 am


8:00 am - 8:30 am

Coffee with Sponsors

Opening Remarks and Autism Innovator Award Ceremony

Anya Perea
Amanda “Mandy” Ralston

Anya Perea, CEO of Jade Health, welcomes everyone back for Day 2 of the 2024 Autism Investor Summit and Mandy Ralston, last year's winner of the Autism Innovator Award, presents the 2024 Autism Innovator Award winner.

Autism Innovator Award Sponsored by SimiTree

8:45 am - 9:30 am

Keynote: The Changing Behavioral Health Market Landscape: Implications For Consumers, Providers, Payers & Investors

Session 2A: You Can't Scale an ABA Company without Humans

Portia James
Holli Beth Clauser
Brett DiNovi
Jonathan Mueller
Sarah Trautman

We love ChatGPT, but as much as AI has/will continue to change our lives it will not replace the need for humans to work in ABA companies. Therefore, recruiting and retaining humans is one of the primary priorities (and often a huge pain point) for ABA companies that want to scale.

This panel will propose a framework for recruiting & retaining ABA employees based on strategies that have been implemented by each of the panelists. Specifically, the panelists will discuss best practices in recruiting (hint: it doesn't involve $10k sign-on bonuses), the case for effective and compassionate employee policies and procedures and why supporting the well-being and health of your employees will yield a strong ROI and will increase your ability to scale your ABA company.

Session 2B: Revolutionizing Autism Care through Medical Device & Biotech Clinical Innovation

Stewart Campbell, PhD
Tom Megerian, MD, PhD
Joe Trebley, PhD
Thomas Ressemann
Neil Hattangadi, MD, MSc
Vijay Ravindran

Our scientific understanding of the underlying biology in autism has greatly improved in the past several years, and the medical advances continue to accelerate. This panel will discuss the scientific innovation and rigorous clinical trials driving the next generation of ASD technologies. The panel will span precision diagnostics and therapeutics, across medical technology and biotech innovation, advancing autism care beyond ABA alone to a whole-child care model.

All technologies represented on the panel have been (or are currently being) studied in randomized controlled clinical trials, with objective endpoints selected for FDA approval. Many are founded based on scientific advances from leading academic medical centers including Yale, Emory, Caltech, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Innovations being discussed are virtual reality (Floreo), eye tracking (EarliTec), catecholamine modulation (Yamo), and microbiome regulation (Scioto and Axial). The panel is moderated by the Cortica Innovation Network, the country’s largest network of pediatric neurology and developmental-behavioral pediatrics trial sites dedicated to ASD and neurodevelopment, which has conducted rigorous clinical trials in four of the five technologies discussed.

10:30 am - 10:45 am


Session 3A: Just Be a Great Leader

Eric Scharber

There is no silver bullet to the current workforce crisis the healthcare industry is facing. No one can “solve” the problem and magically eliminate the shortages we face. Those are facts… That said, you can do something about it. This session will offer a message of how true leadership can ensure your organization will thrive in the race to acquire and retain talent. Attendees will walk away feeling inspired to lead their teams in a positive way, thereby fostering a culture that propels talent toward the organization, which will inevitably create additional value for the organization. With a focus on excellent, employee centric leadership, positive organizational results will follow and your organization will be positioned for greatness! Learn methods to not only be inspired to develop themselves as a leader, but commit to developing their team’s leadership abilities.

Session 3B: Payor Perspectives on the Next Generation of Autism Service Providers

Allison Allgood
Dr. Doreen Samelson
Dr. Darren Sush
Dr. Tiffany Hodges
Yagnesh Vadgama

In recent years, the landscape of autism service provision has undergone significant evolution, driven by advancements in research, technology, and therapeutic approaches. As the demand for specialized services continues to rise, it is imperative to understand the perspectives of payors, who play a crucial role in shaping the accessibility and quality of care for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This presentation delves into the insights and considerations of payors regarding the next generation of autism service providers. Through a comprehensive exploration of payor perspectives, attendees will gain valuable insights into the evolving needs, challenges, and opportunities within the autism services ecosystem. Key topics to be addressed include reimbursement models, evidence-based interventions, regulatory compliance, and the integration of innovative practices. By fostering dialogue and collaboration between payors and service providers, this presentation aims to promote the development of sustainable, person-centered solutions that enhance outcomes and improve the lives of individuals with ASD and their families.

11:45 am - 12:30 pm

Session 4B: The State of Autism Care: Benchmarks and Data Trends to Watch for in 2024

Chris Sullens

With a 48% year-over-year increase in the demand for autism services, the demand for ABA services shows no signs of slowing down, but new expectations for care delivery, benchmarks, and trends are emerging that providers will need to consider as they scale services in 2024.

Based on a dataset of nearly 1,000+ ABA providers and a continuation of the 2022 Autism Investors Summit findings, Chris Sullens, CEO of CentralReach, will deep dive into the factors impacting the industry at a macro level and how providers, and their clients are responding to those pressures. Sullens will discuss the:

- Outlook on growth in the demand for autism services
- Evolution of care delivery and the settings where care is provided
- The changing trends with payors, specifically Medicaid, state by state
- Caregiver engagement and its role in clinical outcomes and financial growth
- Trends in service composition and which providers are seeing the most growth
- And, more.

12:30 pm - 12:45 pm