Shadow Health, Co-Founded by CISE Professor, is Acquired by Elsevier

Shadow Health, a UF Innovate startup, was recently acquired by Elsevier, a leader in research publishing and information analytics.

The Gainesville company was co-founded in 2011 by Benjamin Lok, Ph.D., a professor in the University of Florida Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE); along with David Massias, CEO, and Aaron Kotranza, Ph.D., (BSCE ’05, Ph.D. CE ’09) CTO, with the goal of teaching nursing students how to communicate effectively by using technology researched and developed at UF.

“The acquisition by Elsevier enables the technology, which started by researchers at UF in 2004, to expand globally,” Dr. Lok said. “It’s exciting that our technology will be improving patient outcomes around the world. Further, the anticipated expansion of the Shadow Health workforce will greatly impact the Gainesville community and economy by providing great jobs for both talented folks living here as well as recruiting some of the brightest minds to move here to join Shadow Health.”

Dr. Lok received the 2019 Innovator of the Year Award from UF Innovate | Tech Licensing for his work on the software used by half of all nursing students in the U.S. and Canada. UF nursing students use the software, which provides a comfortable and safe environment where nurses can practice, make mistakes and learn to improve their conversation skills. An important and intentional feature of the system is the diversity of the virtual patients.

“We are the University of Florida, the inventors of Gatorade. It’s in our DNA to be entrepreneurs and innovators,” said Juan E. Gilbert, Ph.D., The Banks Family Preeminence Endowed Professor and chair of the CISE department. “Dr. Lok’s work with Shadow Health exemplifies this spirit, and we are extremely excited for him and the Gator Nation.”


Elsevier acquires Shadow Health, a leading provider of best-in-class healthcare simulations

Acquisition enhances Elsevier’s extensive digital education and clinical practice offerings for healthcare practitioners during a time of continued growth in telehealth

Elsevier, a global leader in research publishing and information analytics, and part of RELX, has acquired Shadow Health, a Florida-based developer of virtual simulations in nursing and healthcare education.

Shadow HealthShadow Health’s Digital Clinical Experiences train and prepare nurses and healthcare practitioners for clinical settings. Its cutting-edge simulations, powered by Shadow Health’s Conversation Engine, enable learners to practice and apply their clinical reasoning skills through life-like interactions with a diverse range of virtual patients. Engaging in conversation-based learning, students gain confidence by practicing the skills they need to care for patients in a safe and standardized environment.

The addition of Shadow Health enhances Elsevier’s extensive portfolio of digital health solutions at a time when experts are calling for improved communication skills from healthcare providers and nursing students. According to a study conducted by Harvard Medical Institutions, poor communication has been shown to be one of the main drivers of preventable medical errors, contributing to more than 30 percent of medical malpractice claims involving patient harm. COVID-19 has further compounded this issue in both ICU and telehealth settings as healthcare practitioners come under increasing pressure.

David Massias, co-founder and CEO of Shadow Health, said: “The global pandemic has brought the need for virtual simulations in nursing and healthcare education into sharp focus. What is clear is that when we invest in better training for nurses, we’ll see better outcomes for patients. Shadow Health’s Digital Clinical Experiences allow learners to develop their clinical judgment and communication skills by interviewing, examining, and treating virtual patients. I’m very proud of everyone at Shadow Health. They have a heart for healthcare – for patients and their families – and work tirelessly to serve our customers better. Now, together with Elsevier, we’re excited to work as one team to accelerate global health, one patient and one nurse at a time.”

As a global leader in nursing and health education, Elsevier works with healthcare educators to prepare students for successful careers in medicine, nursing and health professions and to provide world-class content and innovative learning tools and analytics that improve educational outcomes and help prepare students for healthcare practice.

Jan Herzhoff, president of Global Health Markets at Elsevier, said: “Clinical settings are often high-pressure environments. At Elsevier, we are proud to be a trusted partner for nurses around the world throughout their career from education to practice. The safe, engaging learning environment Shadow Health provides will further support nurses and healthcare professionals in their important work to improve patient outcomes.”

Currently, Shadow Health products are used in more than 900 institutions across North America.

Founded in Gainesville, FL, in 2011, Shadow Health was originally a UF Innovate startup, a University of Florida program established to foster innovative businesses.

The acquisition follows Elsevier’s recent launch of Transition to Practice in the U.S., an immersive online learning platform that supports new nurses to build skills and confidence as they transition from academia to professional clinical practice.

Brent Gordon, Managing Director and General Manager, Nursing and Health Education, Elsevier, said:

“I am excited to welcome the Shadow Health team to Elsevier and look forward to supporting the needs of our customers while advancing our shared purpose of improving learning outcomes and practice readiness for future health professionals.”


This press release was originally published on the Elsevier website.