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I spend much time writing about the business of intellectual property (IP) and startup mistakes, myths, and inspiring stories, with the occasional discussion of the legal system. I would like to shift to our healthcare system and focus in the next couple of posts on some startups in that space. I was introduced to Michael Gold, CEO of Front Health, a technology consulting startup, based in Columbus, Ohio, that helps healthcare providers and payers move confidently to value-based care. Michael shared his insights around the problem Front Health is solving as well as what he’s learned along the way of running a healthcare startup.
Mary Juetten: When did you start?
Michael Gold: We were born from the Midwest Health Collaborative (MHC) in 2018, a consortium of six health systems dedicated to delivering exceptional clinical outcomes and increased satisfaction at lower costs. We incubated our solutions at MHC and demonstrated their value with their at-risk populations. Today, Front Health offers these solutions to all organizations that deliver and pay for healthcare.
Juetten: What problem are you solving in healthcare?
Gold: One way our industry is working to reduce the massive amount of money spent on healthcare today is by changing how it gets paid for – from the volume of activities (e.g. lab tests, hospital stays, visits to the ED) to the quality of the outcomes delivered. We are helping those organizations that deliver and pay for healthcare manage that transition successfully – to reduce costs and improve outcomes for patients.
Juetten: Who are your customers and how do you find them?
Gold: Our customers are those that deliver and pay for healthcare – primarily health systems and insurance companies. Healthcare is a small community. We have a great network of like-minded leaders that are committed to creating change in healthcare. We also attend conferences and share our perspective via webinars.
Juetten: How did past projects and/or experiences help with this new project?
Gold: This is my second start-up with an analytics focus. I started my first company with some college friends and had a blast and learned a lot. From that experience I learned the importance of pairing industry expertise with a broad, problem-solving orientation. We’ve built a team at Front Health that are a mighty bunch of swiss army knives – people with a lot of different talents. Our team includes analysts, strategists, designers, and clinicians. The team is resilient and can quickly adapt to the needs we are discovering in new clients.
Juetten: Did you raise money?
Gold: No. We were bootstrapped out of the Midwest Health Collaborative, a consortium of six health systems dedicated to delivering exceptional clinical outcomes and increased satisfaction at lower costs.
Juetten: Startups are an adventure, what’s your favorite startup story?
Gold: At my first start-up my dearest college friend and I were at a client dinner and he ordered a seafood pyramid. It was so tall and massive that we couldn’t even see our clients on the other side of the table. It was a delicious dinner but didn’t get too much quality conversation with the client … we’ve improved our client management skills since then.
Juetten: How do you measure success and what is your favorite success story?
Gold: There are ups and downs every day in a startup, so I try to celebrate the small victories and the big wins. For me, the most important measure of success is am I being challenged and having a blast working with great people on important problems to solve.
My favorite success story comes from our first startup. Our second customer was a major sporting goods retailer who had hired us to do a small pilot project. Following an on-site meeting, my team and I were eating dinner at a Mexican restaurant when our client contact called and said the CEO wanted to accelerate the project. He asked us to expand our project and do more work on a short timeline and asked how much it would cost. The three of us whispered amongst ourselves not having any idea how much we should charge or how much it would cost us to do the work. We each wrote down a number and I took the biggest and shared it with the client contact – $200,000 – a huge amount of money for us at the time. Our client negotiated to $190,000 on the phone and then we were off and running the next day. That conversation was how our company really got going.
Juetten: Any tips to add for early-stage leaders?
Gold: Celebrate the small wins. Building a company is hard. You and the team should cherish those moments of early momentum – however big or small.
Juetten: What’s the long-term vision for Front Health?
Gold: We aim to be the data-driven, trusted advisors to those leaders committed to changing the way healthcare is delivered and paid for.
It appears that Michael’s previous advanced analytics work on guided store and customer growth strategies engagements with Fortune 500 companies allows him to excel at translating the organizational priorities of Front Health and its clients into technology imperatives.
If you have a startup in the healthcare space, whether aimed at the corporate level or direct to the public, please reach out on twitter @maryjuetten or email@example.com. #onwards.
March 7, 2019 at 09:06AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs