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About Us

SYNERGEN Health’s Leadership Team

Our leadership team combines diverse RCM expertise and a shared vision—propelling us toward innovation and growth.

Our Leadership Team

Mel Gunawardena

Mel Gunawardena

Managing Partner and Board Member

Duminda Gunawardena

Duminda Gunawardena

Managing Partner and Board Member

Surinda Gunawardena

Surinda Gunawardena

Managing Director

Sunil Konda

Sunil Konda

Chief Product Officer & Executive Vice President, Products

Shehan Wijayanayake

Shehan Wijayanayake

Executive Vice President, Client Services

Robert Marinich

Robert Marinich

Senior Vice President, Sales

Teri Gatchel-Schmidt

Teri Gatchel-Schmidt

Vice President, Consulting & Business Dev

Laura Schlageter

Laura Schlageter

Vice President, Marketing

Juan Velez

Juan Velez

Vice President, Strategic Accounts

Rukshan Wijayanayake

Rukshan Wijayanayake

Vice President, Talent & Organization Development

Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith

Director of Revenue Cycle Consulting

Nimshan Fernando

Nimshan Fernando

General Manager

Board of Advisors

Mel Gunawardena

Mel Gunawardena

Managing Partner and Board Member

Duminda Gunawardena

Duminda Gunawardena

Managing Partner and Board Member

James R Berenson, MD

James R Berenson, MD

Board Member

Saurabha Bhatnagar

Saurabha Bhatnagar, MD

Board Member

Mel Gunawardena

Mel Gunawardena

Managing Partner and Board Member

Mel has over 21 years of experience in entrepreneurship, leadership, management, consulting, technology, telecommunication and process re-engineering. Prior to SYNERGEN Health, he was the founder and CEO of a Healthcare Revenue Cycle Management company for 6 years, which he led to Inc. 500 for three years and Dallas 100 list as one of the fastest growing private companies in the USA before being bought out in 2010.

Mel has also held senior management positions in Fortune 500 companies including Verizon, American Airlines and JC Penney Corp, where he gained his experience in leadership and innovation. He was also a Director of international sales at Vonova Communications, a tech start up providing global network services through VoIP. A thought leader in healthcare revenue cycle solutions and merging best practices and tools of other industries into healthcare, he has presented in expert panels as well as a guest speaker at many national healthcare and private equity conferences. Mel is also an investor and advisor to healthcare technology companies, and other technology startups and member of Dallas Round Table. He earned a Sloan Executive MBA from London Business School and a BSc in Electrical Engineering, Specializing in ,Telecommunications from Southern Methodist University.

Duminda Gunawardena

Duminda Gunawardena

Managing Partner and Board Member

Duminda is the co-founder and co-Managing Partner of SYNERGEN Health LLC, a Healthcare Financial Solutions company based in Dallas, Texas since 2011. He has led the growth from a start up to be listed in the Inc. 5000 in 2015 and 2016 and Dallas 100 as one of the fastest growing private companies. Prior to SYNERGEN Health, he spent 12 years as Director Consulting Services at JDA Software Group, formerly i2 Technologies, Inc. At JDA/i2, he led large global supply chain transformational programs for Fortune 500 clients (Lenovo, Dell, etc.) to uncover over $300M in annualized value and managed large global teams. He also spent 3 years in Tokyo, Japan leading i2’s Japan Solutions Development Center. Previously, he was a management consultant at Scient Corporation, a boutique e-business consulting firm and a Project Manager at FedEx Corporations IT Division.

Duminda is also a co-founder, investor and advisor to healthcare technology and other technology startups including SYNERGEN Technology Labs, an Internet-of-Things product company. He earned his MS in Software Engineering and BS in Mechanical Engineering from Southern Methodist University. He has completed the Entrepreneurial Masters Program (class of 2016), formally known as “Birthing of Giants” by MIT Enterprise Forum and Entrepreneur Organization. He has completed executive education in Finance at Wharton School of Business and in Entrepreneurship at the London Business School. He lives in Dallas with his wife, son and daughter.

Surinda Gunawardena

Surinda Gunawardena

Managing Director

Surinda has over 25 years of leadership experience in management, sales, marketing, operation and human resource management, and is the Managing Director of SYNERGEN Health’s Global Delivery Center in Sri Lanka. Prior to SYNERGEN Health, he was the General Manager of SC International (PVT) Ltd and Uni Walkers Packaging, two of the leading printing and packaging companies in Sri Lanka. At both companies, he was responsible for managing and increasing sales of over $10M in revenues per year and working with clients to develop new products. He was also responsible for implementing some of the newest technology in the industry and overseeing the production team to ensure that the operations run efficiently so that margins were maintained with growth.

Surinda is also a partner and investor in an international trading company in Singapore. Surinda earned his MBA from Edith Coven University, Australia, Chartered Management Accountant Qualification, Australia and has a Higher Diploma in Printing Technology and Management from Sri Lanka.

Sunil Konda

Sunil Konda

Chief Product Officer & Executive Vice President, Products

Sunil has over 16 years of product management and client services experience in Patient engagement, Mobility, Accountable Care Organizations (ACO), Population health, Revenue cycle, Interoperability/Integration, Analytics, Data management and Supply Chain. Prior to SYNERGEN Health, he spent 5 years as Sr. Director at NantHealth formerly Net.Orange, in Client Services and Product Management roles. At NantHealth, he led development and implementation of mobile patient engagement solutions at various large health systems, analytics solutions for US Oncology (now McKesson). Prior to Net.Orange, he worked at i2 Technologies (now JDA) working on innovative supply chain solutions for various fortune 500 companies. Sunil is also an investor in healthcare technology and other technology startups. He received his Bachelor’s degree from IIT Kharagpur and his Master’s degree from University of California, Berkeley.

Shehan Wijayanayake

Shehan Wijayanayake

Executive Vice President, Client Services

With over 21 years of experience, Shehan is responsible for cultivating client relationships and leading teams to deliver SYNERGEN Health’s value to clients. As the direct link between our clients and our delivery teams, Shehan is an essential driver of revenue, retention and growth, exhibiting a strong advocacy on behalf of the clients. Prior to joining SYNERGEN Health, Shehan was the principal of his own information technology company, which provided solutions to the healthcare industry.

He has previously held positions as the General Manager of Client Services for American Document Solutions, Inc., a $20M subsidiary of the publicly held company ARC, leading a team of 150 and servicing Fortune 100 clients like Boeing. He was also a Healthcare Support Coordinator for the Western Region at ARAMARK Healthcare Services and in other areas of the service industry. He was accountable for developing and maintaining vital relationships with clients that positioned all organizations for success. Shehan has brought a strong focus on customer service to SYNERGEN Health from multiple industries outside the healthcare setting by working with our team to deliver superior customer service to our clients through communication and commitment. Shehan attended Indiana University- Purdue University Ft. Wayne where he specialized in Marketing and Management.

Robert Marinich

Robert Marinich

Senior Vice President, Sales

Robert Marinich’s unique creative and scientific background provides him with the ability to create new market opportunities and develop untapped revenue potential in an existing market.

With over 20 years of experience in the medical field and technology/software, Robert has consistently developed conceptual business opportunities into profitable companies. An accomplished leader with a proven track record, Robert possesses the credibility to lead cross-functional work teams capable of delivering market dominance.

Prior to joining SYNERGEN Health, Robert was responsible for building and leading a sales team at HST Pathways, a top-ranked, cloud-based Ambulatory Surgery Center software company, driving revenue from $3 million to over $58 million in annual recurring revenue and leading to a $220 million purchase in 2020.

Robert is a subject matter expert with in-depth knowledge of healthcare, revenue cycle management services, consumer benefits, medical banking, hi-tech, and the selling and deployment of complex B2B SaaS solutions.

Teri Gatchel-Schmidt

Teri Gatchel-Schmidt

Vice President, Consulting & Business Development

Teri Gatchel-Schmidt, MBA, CPC, brings over 28 years of experience in the health care industry as a practice administrator, operational leader and revenue cycle optimization consultant to large health systems and physician organizations. Ms. Schmidt has worked during the past 18 years consulting extensively with health care systems to enhance their financial performance in academic and physician ambulatory based settings.

As Vice President of Consulting, she is responsible for helping organizations reach their strategic, operational performance, and financial goals through technology led revenue cycle transformation. Her extensive hands-on knowledge of end to end revenue cycle processes gives her the ability to identify workflow redesign and overall performance improvement opportunities with an eye towards financial improvement and increased efficiency. Her past experiences include executive leadership roles at Change Healthcare, Optum, and MedSynergies. Prior to this, she spent 10 years at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where Ms. Schmidt held the position of Director of Operations for the departments of Otolaryngology and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. She holds an undergraduate degree in business/finance from Texas Wesleyan University and a Master of Business/Health Care Administration from the University of Dallas.

Laura Schlageter

Laura Schlageter

Vice President, Marketing

With over 12 years’ experience, Laura brings a wealth of knowledge to her role as Vice President of Marketing where she plays a pivotal role in shaping and executing the marketing vision for our organization.

Her journey in marketing began with a focus on strategic public relations and integrated marketing for a range of B2C brands and B2B organizations across various industries such as food and beverage, retail, manufacturing, medical cannabis and fintech. She quickly rose through the ranks due to her ability to adapt to emerging trends and having a keen understanding of consumer and customer behaviors, market dynamics, and the evolving media landscape.

Prior to joining SYNERGEN Health, Laura held leadership and account director positions at some of the world’s leading public relations and communications agencies, where she successfully led cross-functional campaigns that increased brand visibility, bolstered corporate reputation and drove growth. Her ability to blend creative storytelling with data-driven decision-making sets her apart, ensuring that marketing efforts are not only captivating but also measurable and impactful.

As Vice President of Marketing, Laura is responsible for developing and executing comprehensive marketing strategies that align with SYNERGEN Health’s overall business objectives. She oversees the entire marketing portfolio, encompassing brand strategy and messaging, content creation, public relations and digital marketing. Laura is dedicated to leveraging her expertise to enhance the company’s market position, deepen customer connections, and drive sustained business growth.

Juan Velez

Juan Velez

Vice President, Strategic Accounts

With over 15 years of experience in the health care industry, Juan was responsible for managing over $55 million dollars in medical assets during his military service. During his tenure in the military he not only served as a medical asset manager he also completed combat time as a Flight Medic. His ability to remained focused during high levels of intense stress allows him to assist clients during critical times of need. After concluding his service, he was responsible for being the strategic Executive leader that grew a specialty healthcare service company from generating less than $1 million to over $100 million in annual revenue. His innate leadership abilities also allowed him to serve as the President of a successful, high complexity CLIA approve laboratory. As Vice President of Strategic Accounts, Juan Velez uses his operational strength and knowledge of the inter-workings of a laboratory to help drive successful and meaningful change for our clients looking to solve complex operational issues that impact revenue. His leadership experience and passion for the success of our clients allows him to assist our clients in outside the box ideas that utilize cutting edge software, automation, and customized approaches to increase revenue collections.

Rukshan Wijayanayake

Rukshan Wijayanayake

Vice President, Talent & Organization Development

Rukshan, a seasoned professional with more than two decades of expertise in the FMCG Warehousing & Logistics Industry in Australia. With an impressive track record, Rukshan has held key positions at METCASH Holdings (ASX:MTS), a distinguished S&P/ASX TOP 100 COMPANY, where he played instrumental roles in senior operations. His responsibilities included spearheading teams in the implementation of cutting-edge warehouse systems, facilitating seamless client onboarding, establishing robust systems to attain service level excellence, nurturing the growth of individuals through training and development initiatives, and providing invaluable mentorship and coaching to groom the next generation of leaders.

Rukshan’s academic journey led him to RMIT (ROYAL MELBOURNE INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY), where he specialized in Business and Logistics, further enriching his knowledge and skills.

Beyond his corporate achievements, Rukshan possesses a passion for coaching and mentoring, particularly within the realm of junior sports teams. His extensive background encompasses coaching junior cricket teams, providing personalized basketball coaching and mentorship, and guiding young athletes on harnessing the mental aspects of sports to unlock their full potential.

Today, Rukshan collaborates closely with our teams, focusing on leadership, coaching, and mentoring to enhance our service delivery to our cherished clients, all while embodying our core values. We are actively establishing tailored individual and team development programs to accomplish our strategic objectives and goals. Our leadership initiatives are driven by a clear vision of empowering our team members with the tools and opportunities they need to thrive as exceptional leaders.

Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith

Director of Revenue Cycle Consulting

With over 25 years of dedicated experience in healthcare revenue cycle management and Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) operations, Patricia is a tactful, results-driven leader who has established a reputation for excellence in optimizing financial performance within the outpatient surgery center environment. In her previous roles as Chief Executive Officer at a multi-specialty ASC, an executive level Director of a start-up ASC management company, and Centralized Business Office Director, Patricia combines a deep understanding of healthcare finance with a strategic approach to enhance operational efficiency and maximize revenue.

Throughout her career, Patricia has been instrumental in implementing innovative process strategies, optimizing revenue capture operations, and ensuring compliance with industry regulations. Her expertise in leveraging technology for operational efficiencies and enterprise scaling has led to significant improvements in accounts receivable management and ambulatory surgery center financial operations. Patricia brings extensive experience in managed care, operating functions, revenue key performance indicators, strategic planning, positioning in anticipation of industry trends; community, physician, patient, and industry relations; business management, operations, and organizational efficiencies. Patricia has thorough knowledge of outpatient surgery specialties including orthopedics, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, ophthalmology, hand, pain, spine, gyn, general, retina, podiatry, otolaryngology, plastics, colon rectal, and sports medicine.

As the Executive Director of Revenue Cycle Consulting at SYNERGEN Health, Patricia will focus on fostering a culture of continuous improvement and accountability. She’ll provide oversight, strategic direction, and guidance to accomplish revenue cycle goals for SYNERGEN’s ASC clients. Her leadership has resulted in consistently achieving and surpassing financial targets, reducing denials, and enhancing both patient and physician satisfaction. Her commitment to excellence and innovation continues to drive success in the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare revenue management as surgical cases shift from the hospital to outpatient surgery settings. Patricia will help keep abreast of current and future healthcare trends, continually evaluate operational changes necessary to ensure maximization of revenue capture considering change in industry reimbursement streams, anticipate the impact of contract changes, communicate across client organizations, and advise client management of actions and potential risks.

Patricia’s academic journey started with a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Colorado State University. She spent five years as a medical social worker in both acute hospital and long-term care settings before moving to the business side of healthcare. Patricia continued her education earning her M.B.A. from Grand Canyon University. She credits her unique skillset with her shift from people focused medical social work to finance and technology focused business administration and operations. Patricia can genuinely connect with people, effectively communicate, and build positive working relationships simultaneously while managing a successful, profitable business.

Nimshan Fernando

Nimshan Fernando

General Manager

Nimshan brings a wealth of expertise to the field of Revenue Cycle Management, with an impressive 14 years of experience under his belt. His journey in this industry began as the lead Analyst at a distinguished Healthcare Revenue Cycle Management company, where he honed his skills for a remarkable four years. During this time, the company achieved remarkable recognition, earning a coveted spot on the Inc. 500 list for three consecutive years and securing a place on the Dallas 100 list as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the USA.

However, Nimshan’s journey didn’t stop there. Driven by a passion for innovation and a commitment to pushing the boundaries of healthcare analytics, he went on to become the visionary inventor behind SYNERGEN Health’s groundbreaking Analytics Platform, known as Doctrix. This cutting-edge platform has seamlessly integrated with some of the industry’s leading Practice Management Systems, solidifying Nimshan’s reputation as a pioneer in the field.

Today, Nimshan holds a pivotal role at SYNERGEN Health, where he oversees all operations and leads the charge in harnessing the power of advanced analytics to drive healthcare revenue cycle management to new heights. His extensive experience, coupled with his visionary approach to healthcare analytics, makes him an invaluable asset to the SYNERGEN Health team and a driving force behind their continued success.

James R Berenson, MD

James R Berenson, MD

Member of Advisory Board

Dr. Berenson is the founder of the Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research (IMBCR) and has specialized in research related to myeloma and metastatic bone disease both in the basic and clinical areas for more than 20 years. He has been involved in many of the major breakthroughs that have brought new treatments for patients with these diseases resulting in both an improvement in the length and quality of their lives.

He serves as a member of the National Institutes of Health – Center for Scientific Review, Clinical Oncology Study Section. He is a member of the Scientific Boards of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation and the International Myeloma Foundation. He serves on both the Foundation and the Scientific Boards of the Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma Society. He also works with many other groups known for their work in multiple myeloma and bone metastases.

After receiving a Bachelor of Science with Distinction from Stanford University, he earned his Doctorate in Medicine from the University of California at San Diego. Dr. Berenson completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at the University of Utah Medical Center and fellowships in hematology/oncology at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in both internal medicine and medical oncology. He has been affiliated most recently with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and served as the Director of the Multiple Myeloma & Bone Metastasis Programs in the Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology / Oncology. Dr.Berenson has performed research as a member of the Departments of Medicine and Biological Chemistry at the UCLA School of Medicine and has served as Chief of Medical Oncology and Cancer Research as well as Director of Research at the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Administration Healthcare Systems. Dr.Berenson has authored and co-authored numerous books, articles, and abstracts in journals including Blood, Cancer, Cancer Research, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Journal of Clinical Oncology, New England Journal of Medicine, and Science.

In addition to his research interests in myeloma and metastatic bone disease, he also studies antibodies, T-cell receptors, cytokines, cancer genes, viruses and blood vessel development. Dr.Berenson has also conducted numerous clinical trials related to the treatment of multiple myeloma and metastatic bone disease. Because he is internationally known for his expertise and accomplishments in these areas, he has also been asked to give numerous lectures and organize many meetings both nationally and internationally.

Dr.Berenson has a private practice which specializes in the treatment of patients with myeloma and metastatic bone disease.He is also President and Chief Executive Officer of Oncotherapeutics, Inc., a corporation that conducts clinical trials related to myeloma and metastatic bone disease as well as other cancers throughout the United States. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Dr.Berenson is married to Debra. They have two children, Shira and Ariana.

Dr.Berenson’s many innovations and successes have included:

  • A Leader in developing techniques that will rid cancer in stem cells for myeloma patients
  • Discovery of new genes in myeloma bone marrow that will be potential new targets for innovative treatments
  • Development of a new way to sensitively and accurately measure malignant cells which has provided significant improvements in determining the effects of new drugs as well as treatments for tumors
  • Discovery of new treatments for myeloma patients that effectively give a much better quality of life for patients through the significant reduction of toxicity
  • Revolutionized in vivo models making them highly effective to serve as quick ways to optimize drug dosing and treatment techniques for myeloma and bone cancer patients
  • Identified a new herpes virus that is a promising modality to attack
  • myelomaRevolutionized research techniques at a genetic level rather than using the traditional protein approach
Saurabha Bhatnagar

Saurabha Bhatnagar, MD

Chief Health Officer & General Manager, Commure

Saurabha Bhatnagar, MD is a leading physician executive in the healthcare industry who has made a significant impact through his roles as an educator, senior executive, board member, and advisor. With a background in computer science, human-centered design, and Lean/Six Sigma, he is at the forefront of driving healthcare industry transformations.

Dr. Bhatnagar has held several high-profile positions, from government to venture-backed start-ups, including his current role as Chief Health Officer and General Manager at Commure, a healthcare tech company that raised $500M in two rounds of funding.

Prior to joining Commure, he was the Chief Medical Officer, Head of Digital and Technology at United Healthcare, part of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UHN) a Fortune 6 company, where he played a crucial role in advancing the company’s digital transformation. There, he also served as the Chief Medical Officer for Medicare, a $120B business unit and the largest Medicare plan in the US, serving 1 in 5 seniors.

At the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), Dr. Bhatnagar was the Chief of Quality, Safety, & Value where he was responsible for enterprise quality and safety operations for 160 VA hospital systems and 1,000 outpatient clinics. He also served as the Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Chief Medical Information Officer for technology modernization efforts for the enterprise for which he received a meritorious Commendation from VA in 2019.

As a faculty member at Harvard Medical School since 2013, Dr. Bhatnagar is a sought-after educator and teacher in the Global Executive Education and Master’s Degree programs. He is a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician with fellowship training in Traumatic Brain Injury, making him a valuable asset to the healthcare industry. Dr. Bhatnagar earned a Bachelor’s in Computer Science with Honors from Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech) and doctorate from Chicago Medical School-RFUMS.

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