Avaneer Logo
Contact usProduct Tour

Navigating Healthcare’s Innovation Landscape

Season 1  |  Episode 5
The healthcare startup environment is notoriously difficult and requires a lot of grit to succeed. Learn what Reaction Data President Jeremy Bikman says separates those who succeed from those who don’t, and the two questions every startup needs to answer before entering the market.
Listen and follow here:

View Show Notes and Transcript

Rachel
Hello and welcome to the Spark, a view of innovation in healthcare. I’m Rachel Schreiber, your co-host, and in this episode we’re speaking with Jeremy Bikman, president of Reaction Data. I’m also joined by Stuart Hanson, CEO of Avaneer Health.

Stuart
Thanks a lot, Rachel. I am super excited to have this discussion with Jeremy. And Jeremy, welcome. Not only do you bring the most interesting background to your video display, but we’re really excited to hear more about reaction data and your personal passion for healthcare. One of the things we like to start with in addition to just welcoming you and complimenting you on something – your background in this case – what we wanted to do was really start with the personal spark for you, right? Healthcare is ridiculously hard. We all know that. I tell some startup founders, go do something else. Our healthcare is where startups go to die because it’s so difficult to move the needle in this industry. It’s also so rewarding and so impactful when you’re able to, but a lot of people don’t have that fortitude. And I’m curious what your original story was to either get into healthcare or to stay the course in this really tough industry.

Jeremy
Yeah. So my background is economics, that’s what I got my degree in. I’m so obsessed with courses in econometrics where you do an enormous amount of research with independent dependent variables. But I got married a little earlier than most people do. I got married, I was about 24 and then had a kid by the time I was 26, and I’d done a bunch of service for my church out for two years. And so I was behind other people normally because I was out doing a bunch of service stuff like that for a couple of years. And so I was finishing up my degree in economics and just had a brand new baby, and I started going through, do I want to go to Wall Street and work 80 to a hundred hour weeks for the next three years doing econometrics in a one bedroom apartment or going to San Francisco and said, no, I didn’t want to.

So I jumped out into the internet space, did a little startup for a while called Buildyourloan.com, which we didn’t succeed, but Eloans succeeded. Everyone knows Eloans knows different online mortgage companies, but it kind of got the spark in my brain about tech innovation in tech. And so then I started with another little internet company while I was doing it. Then I got into executive recruiting and working with Silicon Valley companies. And some of the first companies I was working with were Whizzbang Labs and other ones that were the really early pioneers in natural language processing and machine learning. And at the same time, a good friend of mine who had been a client at Sun Microsystems, she had jumped over to being one of the heads of product management 3M health information systems. She was telling me one day about coding.

I knew nothing about healthcare except that I hated going to the doctor and the whole experience sucked, and I was waiting around in a typical thing and she was exploiting coding. I said, I have clients that are doing these things called natural language processing. You should talk. This is back in 2003. I remember the conversation and she got really excited and talked to us 3M and said, Hey, this could save us. This could change the whole industry and coding and HIM, and they shot her down. They wouldn’t listen to anything. And so I wasn’t used to that because the industry I was in for three, four, almost five years in normal tech was You jumped on that. Yeah, you get a good idea that could run with it. Yeah. I’m like, what in the heck is wrong with this space? And while I was trying to help 3M out and they turned me down, I’d run across KLAS research.

And so we just started talking and then they’re like, Hey, we want to grow the business. And so I jumped in and ended up becoming executive vice president. I ran all the research and strategy and sales teams for them. And so that’s what got me into healthcare was initially the sheer stupidity I ran into, where healthcare was the most intransigent bunch of people I’d ever met. And it’s still to this day, like you said, I think it was really cool, Stuart, I’ll kind of change your analogy, but the coastline of healthcare is littered with the wreck of awesome innovation and where startups go to die. There’s no industry, I don’t think, maybe some governmental stuff where coming up with a new better way is actually met with almost anger where it’s like, no, no, no, no. We do things a certain way. So everybody talks, go to HIMSS and all this stuff.

Everyone talks about how they want innovation and change and disruption. I’m like, no, they don’t. They don’t. So you bring really cool tech and it isn’t the tech, there’s so much other parts of it. We have to navigate these reefs and shoals of just ignorance and stubbornness and intransigence and just stuck in their ways, so to speak. So that’s kind of a long way, but I still want change. So we get really excited with, we work with really big companies, the Fortune 500, fortune one of Fortune 50 we get most excited about. I get most excited about working with startups that actually they’re the really disruptive agents. The problem is a lot of them get acquired and then disruption gets kind of scuttled.

Stuart
To put the positive view on the coastline being littered with great ideas, it’s hard for these companies to get to scale because usually they’re scrappy and they’re well undercapitalized. And this industry moves slowly even when it embraces change because of all the good reasons and a bunch of unintended consequences. All the good reasons are info security concerns and privacy concerns. And you got to go through certain gauntlets to do things in healthcare without taking unnecessary risks with patient data as an example. But there’s also a lot of bad reasons. Like you said, there’s just a lot of, Hey, we’ve always done it this way. It’s so complex. It becomes hard to unwind some of those things and do things differently. And it really takes fortitude not only on the part of the startups or the great ideas or the founders or the change agent executives, but it takes a lot of fortitude within their organizations and a lot of executive.

And a lot of times that’s hard to get, sadly, because on the flip side, as I said in my intro comment, the ability to create impact is gigantic. Anything you do, if you can move the needle on some small process change or some new tech adoption, I mean, it’s hard to not, you’re tripping over a hundred million dollars savings opportunities because the industry’s just so large, and the scale of this is so big and the complexity is so high, but I hear it’s frustrating, it’s rewarding, it’s painful, and it takes a special breed of people to thrive in that environment. For sure.

Jeremy
Yeah, and it’s frustrating. It feels like you’re stuck in a, it’s almost like Jerry McGuire meets Groundhog Day. You’re like, help me help you. Because most companies think about how many companies out there don’t check the box on security and privacy. Most companies like we check the box. So it’s like, how do you get past it? Say Mr. CIO, Mrs. CIO, let’s check these boxes right away. All the foundational stuff’s there. So yeah, done, done, done. Okay, now let’s talk about where it fits. And I was just on it with another company and what they’re trying to ascertain is, it’s kind of interesting. It’s like the second best answer you can ever get is a quick no, get me to the no.

Fail fast and get a know from the health system or from the health plan or whoever the TPA or whatever it is. But there’s a third one there that doesn’t get talked about much, which is, and that’s where I think research is so important is finding what aspects of the market are ready to move now so you’re not wasting time. If you look at people like within the epic ecosystem, everyone has to eventually work within the epic superstructure is where are they in their implementation? So you can talk to them and talk to a CIO and they’re like, I love everything you’re talking about. I can’t do anything for the next year. So it’s okay, let’s put that in the bucket. Problem is how do you do that? How do you know exactly where they are without guessing? How do you ascertain that so you’re not wasting time?

So it’s not just all right, obviously A yes is great. Let’s get to a quick No, that’s super important as we disqualify and don’t waste so much of our time, but also how do we not waste the time of these hospitals helped us and health plans that just aren’t ready. The need is there and we get, so we put ourselves almost in the decision-making posture of them to say they’re crazy. We see all the problems they have. We can save them 5 million a year, 10 million a year, or we can make them X more money, capture and recapture and get people back in. We can do that. Why aren’t they seeing it? It’s like it doesn’t matter. Stop looking at what should be done on what is the reality of it. I think that’s where research will say, just don’t go back to them in six months, nine months. Don’t waste your time, guys. This is our true two year actual addressable market. This is where we actually have real opportunity. Quit chasing all this stuff. Have it on the back burner or warm. If I see any of this stuff in the pipeline, I’m going to kill somebody. Don’t do that. Here’s where opportunity are, and you can’t without doing research. There’s actually no feasible way to do it unless you just hire a ridiculously large sales organization, which right now, probably not a great idea.

Stuart
Not practical. Yeah. I love Jeremy Maguire meets Groundhog Day. It feels like you’re like, get out of my head, Jeremy, get out of my head.

Jeremy
I feel your pain.

Stuart
Thanks, man. So obviously you’re in touch with a lot of companies, a lot of startups, a lot of founders. What have you gleaned that you’d like to share with our listeners that you’ve learned from some of those recent interactions?

Jeremy
Yeah, I think some secrets to success are, I think the first one is grit. If you follow David Goggins, he’s one of the most psychotic, fitness people out there. He was on Navy Seals and he’s done these 150 mile races like the ultra marathons, and he’ll like, I want to break the pushup record, and he’s just the glutton for punishment. But you have to have that as a company. You have to have this thing and going in and creating the right expectation for your own staff and everyone to say, investors, whatever. This is a grind.

We all got drunk on Covid money and all the stimulus, there was free money getting thrown everywhere, but iron sharpens iron and for a number of years when money’s really, really cheap, everybody was eating Twinkies and it’s hard not to, right? It’s really hard not to because the whole industry’s like that. The whole economy was like that, and now this is the test of grit. You’re going to embrace the grind. You’re going to tap out. It’s really hard right now. You’ve been doing planks for the last 10 minutes and you’re holding it and it sucks and you feel like garbage. You’re going to hold on Rachel, your son does wrestling, right? Right. I mean that’s hell keep going. I remember as a kid, two people. I grew up in a little tiny town, and so fighting was just what you did. You’re always fighting. My teeth are, I have scar hair, scar here. I got scars. We used to scrap hockey player. I mean, it’s just the way things were, but two people, I’d never fight if I found out they were a wrestler or that they were worked on a milk farm or a dairy farm. They weren’t good fighters.

Stuart
Wrestlers and farmers work really hard though. Let’s give a shout out for sure.

Jeremy
They do contest every time. They’re incredibly powerful and they can put up with enormous amount of pain, which isn’t great in a fight when you’re against that person. So that’s what I’d be like, is our company made up of dairy farmers and wrestlers? Because our DNA needs to be that. The companies I see that are successful as startups are those that is intrinsic to who they are. The problem is everybody gets obsessed with the idea, we got this great tech, great tech. If just having the best tech was the key to success, then Epic would be a 10th of its size because Epic has never had the best tech. I know that pisses people off. People don’t want to hear it. They haven’t. IDX care cast was awesome. Eclipses back in the day was great. What Epic had grit and patience, and they understood the soft skills of doing enormous amounts of research and due diligence to find out exactly what are the type of health systems that make an ideal customer for us, and then how do we win it? Oh, let’s do enormous amounts of research on everyone on the board, everyone on the C team, C level, we’ll know everything. We’ll find out everybody else who could possibly be there. And they kept doing that at every stage. Innovation, it isn’t tech.

Stuart
Interesting. Never heard that perspective,

Jeremy
And I don’t think you want to be in a tech arms race for sure. If literally the only thing that you can, if your DNA is around, well, we have the best tech. Well, someone else will come along with better tech. Well, now what do you do? Your entire strategy is out the window.

Stuart
Our worst tech with better grit, you need the combo, right? Is your point.

Jeremy
As long as you have the distribution of our product meets 80% of the market demand. Okay, so check the box. Our system’s stable. It’s relatively easy for use, which in healthcare, it’s almost like a punchline to the joke, but it’s okay. It’s got the functionality, it’s stable, it’s got the right responsiveness, and it’s got right security, and it does all the protections and whatever. As long as it has that, you just check those boxes. The basic foundation, it is the grit and the service and the handholding, and not chasing deals, but going after the ones that fit the best and really understanding your market, really understanding each persona. And when we’re on a demo with the CIO and the IT team, it’s going to be very different than we’re on with the informatics teams. It’s very different than the people that run the network.

And we don’t. I see a lot of one size fits all pretty standard, and it’s basically you’re making the prospect, you’re making the customer eat your dog food. They’re doing work well, yeah, this doesn’t apply to them. It’d be good to them to know, no, let’s be the company that never wastes their time. Let’s be the company that is so specific every single moment that they know I can trust these guys. They’re a startup, but man, they’ve been on point at every aspect of our interaction and they’ve never wasted my time and they’ve always gotten back to me quick. That’s another thing that drives me kind of bananas, is I judge people by how quickly they respond to emails. That’s a personal thing to me. I’m like, even if it’s Jeremy get bent or not, now I’m like, that’s okay, but silence. It’s almost like silence in a relationship. I get the silent treatment from a certain special, someone I know I’m screwed. Yeah, the answer to communicate. Yeah. Yeah.

Stuart
Interesting. So Jeremy, what do you think is the biggest opportunity for healthcare right now that’s untapped that really needs innovation or really needs some grit and fortitude and box checking applied against it?

Jeremy
So I’ll give the self-serving answer second. The first one is, and it’s not a specific technology, how do you reduce friction?

Stuart
Yeah, there’s so much, right?

Jeremy
There’s so much friction. There is a lot. So I’ll almost turn that around to you. I think that’s kind of what you guys are doing now is reducing friction in a lot of pretty big areas. And so if it isn’t a niche thing like a health note or a baby scripts where their digital health, their ROI is, it’s very easy to understand what they’re going to do and they really make a difference. It’s in specific areas, but it’s easy to understand. It’s not broad. And that’s typically what most companies should do is don’t chase the broad.

There’s been a lot of companies that try to say, oh, we’re trying to be this company, for example, trying to do this really big giant platform that everyone can build on top of. That’s great, but that’s not, healthcare needs more handholding. These health systems need more handholding.

They’re not just going to maybe 1% of them and have a sophisticated enough venture arm and a sophisticated enough it to say, well, we could really change the interface. Kind of like what John Lamp is doing with the Mayo Digital thing or whatever he’s doing where he’s like, yeah, we got Epic, we got whatever, but really we’re going to start building our own solutions that our clinicians and other staff are really going to use on top of it. But if people are basing, and a lot of companies that make too many mistakes and they still base their direction on what the most elite institutions will do, they don’t represent most of the market, you’re going to find yourself not positioned correctly. So that’s the one I’ll come back to you on that. The second one would be no one’s ready for consumerism. I’ve yet to meet a hospital clinic that is ready for the Gen Z or younger millennials, once they really start taking over healthcare, they just won’t put up with Gen Xers like me will put up with, and they don’t know how to research with their patients.

They don’t know. The patient is almost like they treat healthcare, hospitals, clinic, they treat a patient almost like a mechanic shop, treats a car, we’ll get to it, the car, whenever the mechanics are ready, whenever the techs are ready. And you don’t really know what’s going on unless you’re mechanics. I have to kind of trust what you’re telling me. And anytime I give input on a go, actually, I think the solenoid has a problem as part of the starter. Yeah, the mechanic shut up. So you’re basically, I’m the client, but I’m not the client. I’m the customer. I’m not the customer. Well, that is really changing to where you can’t treat a patient like a car. They’re going to get engaged, they’re going to want to talk. They’re not going to put up with these crazy wait times. They’re not going to put up with not getting communication, and they don’t want to download a bunch of apps again. So whatcha going to do. So that’s where, and they’ve got tons

Stuart
Of research available to them, right?

Jeremy
Tons of research on the consumer side. They do. Yeah. Right, exactly. So it’s like you’re coming in with this much more high demand customer that’s emerging that you’re not ready for because you’re used to boomers who put up with and Gen X that were just tough and we’re latchkey kids and whatever, I’ll do it myself. Not they need more handholding, but they’re entering an industry or they’re getting served by one that does zero handle dictates to you at every term. Interesting. The patient healthcare doesn’t revolve around the patient. The patient has to revolve around the dysfunction of healthcare that has to change, and that’s going to be brutally difficult to it. But flipping back to you, I think you guys, I’d like to hear from you how you guys, because I think what you’re doing is reducing friction, so it’s more of a globally applicable issue that every organization and even outside organization, I think you get work with health plans. I’d like to hear a little bit about what your answers to that question.

Stuart
Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting because we’ve got a number of folks on our team that have embraced the challenge of trying to build something very complex and very broad, which you just talked about being a really tough thing to do. And we did that by, we’re definitely focused on reducing friction, friction and how data moves. We’re just trying to unlock data so that all these organizations can adapt to massive amounts of data, massive amounts of automated tools, machine learning, ai, all that stuff. But they need access to data to be able to do that and to be able to solve the problems that healthcare consumers are starting to demand and the world. It’s an industry of data silos and a lot of block data, a lot of really rich data that is trapped for some good reasons and some unintended reasons like we talked about before.

So we’re really trying to unlock the data of healthcare between payers and providers in particular pharmacy, et cetera as well, but payers and providers where that data is usually needed in real time to do the right things for patients. But we’re also trying to build on top of that some value added solutions to make a demonstration, if you will, a value proposition. Of course, people need to buy something that provides some economic value. I’m get into your econometrics here pretty quick, but they also need to see something that can really help reduce friction. So we really were embarking when we joined, when I joined two and a half, three years ago, on building something that could really reduce that friction, but also solve a very tangible problem to show the industry what the power of that could be. And that’s been hard. We’ve had a tough slog to do that because there’s a lot of complexity we’re trying to solve for in moving the industry to real time cloud-based fire, all that stuff, all those tech check boxes and do that securely. That’s hard in and of itself, but to solve some real problems and show the industry what the power of that can be has been really our big challenge,

Jeremy
Especially as you’re having move at the speed of them, which they don’t can’t. In fact, even saying the word speed in the health system or health plan is kind of funny is they’re not going to

Stuart
A little paradoxical. Yeah.

Jeremy
Yeah. It’s interesting too that in my conversation to a lot of people that work within those organizations, it’s caring less and less, and this is where the ai, I talk to a lot of AI companies. I get pinged by them all the time, which is kind of interesting, but I’m actually doing a podcast next week with AI Doc. You may have heard of ’em. They’re the big player. Pretty cool stuff. And just conversations with them. And then other ones, they always say, Jeremy, what do you think? What do you think? What do you think? And I’m always happy to just say, just so you know, I’m giving you advice, but it’s free. So you really, really getting what you’re paying for here. But I said, quit talking about your tech so much. I quit you probably yourself, an AI company that’s like us going around saying we’re a Neo four J company.

You’re like, why would you, well, we don’t care about your database. So I’m like, that’s the point. I don’t care that you’re an AI company. I care what problem you solving for me? What does your tech do? How’s it, how’s it going to make us more money or cut our costs? At the end of the day, everything has to answer one of those two questions. How are we making more money? Or how are we cutting costs or doing more with less? Every single tech has to be able to answer that question. So if you want to waste my time going through the, oh, we spun out a Carnegie Mellon or at a UMass or at a Stanford and we hired these four, blah, blah, blah, blah. I don’t care. I

Rachel
How do you think that marketers and product and the product development team can use the insights to drive both better products and then also better marketing? I’ve been in marketing for 20 plus years and it’s really hard sometimes when we get stuck in our small and closed rooms where this sounds great, they’re going to love this, and we make something, and then it’s like it doesn’t resonate or it’s missing something or because we didn’t talk to anybody who we’re trying to market to or trying to sell to. That’s happened several times with different companies unless there’s a government regulation and then that drives, that’s interesting how that will drive adoption really quickly. But if we’re looking to solve a problem

Jeremy
You don’t want my perspective on meaningful use.

Stuart
If you’re waiting on government regulation, you should be scratching your head. Yeah, why Is that what you’re waiting for?

Rachel
Yeah, exactly. But can you give some examples or talk about what’s the reward of using more insights in marketing or in product development, or can you give some examples of that?

Jeremy
Yeah, it’s kind of, my dad used to say this all the time, or my grandpa. There’s two different things where you want to tell time with more than one watch, even though we don’t need to now, but that’s just an old saying. Back when everything was wound up, you better tell time with two or three watches. And then my grandpa would always be like, “Hey, measure twice, measure three times, measure four times and cut once.” The problem with most companies is the only measure they do, the only the watch they tell time from is their internal team. Like you said, they get the board, you get groupthink.

They think “We kind of know what we’re doing.” You don’t, from a data perspective tell you that’s all of it’s utterly anecdotal, but the problem is I get why companies don’t do much research. Almost no company I’ve ever worked with does nearly the amount of research they should, and I don’t mean from like, oh, they should use reaction. I just said generally they just don’t. And I understand why they don’t because historically takes, there’s been only two options. You work with a research firm like I used to work at, and it’s a one size fits all. It’s very expensive and it takes a long time and it’s anonymous.

A lot of trust gets placed there, and you can’t be nimble of an organization when you’re waiting two months to get this research back and it’s anonymous. You can’t tie it was this north Broward, was this Mayo, was this Huntsville hospital? Was this Intermountain? You have no idea. You’re hoping it fits it, but you can’t tie any of the data to that institution and now apply context. You can’t. And then the flip side is, oh, we’ll get a SurveyMonkey or we’ll get a Qualtrics and we’ll get a definitive list. But then you have to, who’s going to run it and do they know how to really run quick, nimble research? Are they going to go down the same path of I got so much other stuff to do. And so what do they do? They go to Stuart and say, what are your questions? He gives him 10, he goes to Rachel five, and pretty soon you’ve produced this giant survey that’s going to give you, it’s going to cause a problem.

Number one, you’re really going to piss off the people you’re getting data from. They’re like, this sucks. This is going up every, they’re not going to answer all the questions, just going to, I want it to be done and the approaches, and then you can’t rinse and repeat. So both take a lot of time and effort. There’s just nothing in between. So I get it. We have limited, it’s real expensive. So we could great, I guess we could buy a report or two and do one research project or we don’t have anybody who am I going to pull away from getting us ready for a trade show, get us our marketing collateral, et cetera, and even though we know it, so it becomes an immediacy problem. So it’s kind of a reason I started reaction was that was the whole thing I was frustrated with after I left class and I was running management consulting firms, I needed data because when Barclays was hiring us and Francisco Partners was hiring us and even Carlisle Group a trillion dollars in her management, whatever they had at the time, they’re like, yeah, Jeremy, you seem like a smart guy and your team, and this lady is pretty smart too, but you better have data behind this.

And so now I was a consumer of research. I had to go sponsor it, buy it, and I’m like, this is insane. My entire project, we can’t move ahead until we get this data, but they’re taking forever. Or we bought this report for seven grand and literally we got two pieces that was even useful to us. So that’s the reason I started the company was like I needed it. If I want to be able to get research done, I want to do research with my customers, I need to have something that’s going to help me give me best practices, and I can launch in a couple of days and I have data coming in within a day and then I’m done. I may have all I need in a week or two. Same thing with the market. Powerful. Oh, they already got the network. They already have the expertise.

We can launch you the platform. We can go super quick, learn something over a week or two and then pivot and do this anytime we want to. We’re not blowing all this money. So I get it. I totally get why companies don’t do it, but it’s so important. We had a customer other day, and I’m sorry to be talking about myself, but I think it’s instructive for this, and they said it’s interesting, and they called this in this call, the head of marketing was like, yeah, reactions are business GPS, and I’d never heard that. And they were talking to like, can you stop? What? What’d you call it? You just call this business GPS. Can you, I think I thought, I know where she was going. You call us that. I said, well, it’s because before we go anywhere now with our car company, we want to know is there a roadblock?

Is there an avalanche in the canyon? Is there a better route? And so if we’re going to go anywhere, why wouldn’t we quickly check with our customers who might know and then quickly check out in the market with a subset to find out if I can get sense. We have board meeting. We had a board meeting coming up like, oh, Dale, we had a board meeting coming up. I went out and pinged and I got 20 CIOs last week and these different health systems to tell me. So the assertion coming from the board is wrong. I don’t know where they’re getting it from. It is, this is what the market wants. This is what our customers are saying. So I get why that’s a long-winded answer, Rachel, why companies just will talk amongst themselves mainly

Rachel
How do you balance, there’s the Henry Ford quote of if they asked me, they would’ve asked for better horses. Something around that and so was really needed in the transportation is it’s not like better wheels or better grain for the horses. It’s a completely different way of movement. And that’s one of our mission in healthcare is to change the way data moves, to change the way transactions happen, creates a better experience. But healthcare is not necessarily overtly ask, let’s move data better. A lot of people are thinking about it differently than that. So how do you balance this is what the customer wants with this is actually going to help them, or this innovation is going to create a better way? How would you balance that feedback?

Jeremy
Yeah, absolutely. So back to the Henry Ford, which is a brilliant quote, and he’s absolutely right. How do you describe a car to someone who’s never seen a car?

So if you’re doing research, if I was Henry Ford, I’m like, don’t describe the car. Describe the problem, ask about the problem. If you could ask questions, if you could get there faster, drier, whatever, would you, everyone universally would answer yes. Now, they may say, well, I kind of miss, no, we’re not saying get rid of your horse. The problem is people spend way too much time trying to describe what their solution does inadvertently. They don’t even realize they’re doing it rather than no. In the research, ask questions that elicit the fear response or the greed response. Have them live through the pain, describe the pain, and then when you’re marketing it, talk about Clayton Christensen always says, talk about the job to be done. Talk about the solution, how you solve. People should be so excited about what you can do for them and not what we can move data around. Because again, most people aren’t going to take that and go, oh, that means this for our business. You actually have to go to the higher order level kind of mouth hierarchy of needs. You need to go right to and actually spell it out for them. I call it. We describe our system as a Fisher Price interface. It’s easy enough to use. A doctor can use it with no training.

And when it comes to marketing, it’s the same thing. Fisher price it. Don’t try to overwhelm with scientific acronyms, don’t try to overwhelm, but these big nebulous issues and problems we know because, okay, what happens if the data isn’t flowing right or you don’t have access to the right data? Why is that a problem? Oh, it’s this, this, this. Okay, then go higher. You keep pushing until, okay, we’ve gotten ridiculous now. And then you take one step back and say, that’s our marketing, that’s our sales positioning, that’s our collateral. That’s how we describe those kinds of things. It’s hard to do without research. I don’t know how you’d do it. You could still do it. It just makes it harder. But just the exercise itself is hard to do, but it is such an important exercise. And then you always want my understanding within a SEAL team or a marine recon team, any son of the special forces, they typically will have someone on the team whose job is to always push back against the plan or what the leader wants to do at that moment.

That’s their job. I think Stanford did a research study with MBA and they broke up all these groups, like five or six different groups, and they had one person in one team whose job was to push back. And what they found is that that team, every time that had a person whose job was to constantly question internally, not always, it’s not publicly. You don’t want to just undercut. So stewards having a meeting all of a sudden, some guys, it’s like one of those court jesters just chiming in. You’re like, you’re just disrupting everything. We can’t even get anything done. And that group that had that person always outperformed significantly, all the other groups that they didn’t have that function. But what the problem was every time given the chance to vote one person out, they voted out the most important person off the island. So does the culture of your company, I don’t mean your company, but generally to people listening, does it foster those people that are constantly looking for why are we doing this, whatever, and it’s that same kind of order of importance level about marketing, Rachel, but again, just my opinion.

Rachel
Thank you. That was good. Yeah, definitely lots of thought provoking around how you would do that. Ask those questions in a way that you’re getting at the, as you said, fear and greed,

Jeremy
And that’s what we help our customers with. Our system is full. Anybody can go and use it anytime, and we do have customers that are doing it, but we always be like, Hey, use this as kind of, you need the cricket your conscience. Let us, we’re happy to just review what you’re doing before you launch it. Allow us to help reverse engineer things because we get the principles really well and we want to help people to say, Hey, usually our pushback is, what’s your objective for doing the research?

What’s the business need? Just help us understand that first. I’m like, okay, probably not going to get you that. Or, oh, you’re right on the money. And that’s where we help them get to that point where they hopefully are moving up to higher priority things.

Stuart
Yeah, you got to make sure you’re asking the right questions

Jeremy
And then analyzing it. Analyzing it. Right. We don’t get much into the analysis. Most of the time when you do the research, it becomes extraordinarily apparent what you should do, but we’re always there to answer questions because I don’t giving much opinion on that, Stuart, once the data comes in, because then people start, they do almost like they do with a McKinsey where they kind of turn off their brain and like, oh, here’s this expert telling us to do X, Y, Z, and then no, no, you come up with it. It’s really apparent in the data what you should do. If you want to ask me some questions, great, but I’m not going to come in and give you a big presentation and tell you here’s what your results are saying. Not that we can’t just because then we see people naturally kind of turn off, they turn their brain down a little bit, their cognitive function or where their strategic mind should be really integrated, and we’re like, just don’t your business better than we do. Don’t do what we tell you to do. It’s going to be really apparent the data. So

Rachel
As a wrap up, can we go back to what’s your vision for healthcare and your role in it and how you’re making it better?

Jeremy
Oh, geez. Vision for hell. I like to burn it all down and rebuild it. That’s not, although the way we’re going fiscally and we might be driving into a brick wall without even realizing it. I mean, my personal goal is just to help everybody operate it at a higher level, and they’re making decisions that actually really are the right kind of decisions. Now, how they execute on ’em is a wholly different discussion, but that goes for everything. That goes for the health systems themselves making decisions. It’s kind of interesting, an industry that coined the term like evidence-based medicine, obviously it fits within the domain, makes so many decisions not based in any sort of evidence at all, and then pushes back against new evidence, pushes back against new better ways of doing things, which is kind of a chiasmus what we started ended up talking about at the beginning. We’re now going back to talk about, so that’d be my vision, but I am under no. The other thing too, I guess is I think kind of funny, maybe that’s not answering the question, is people need to quit coming up with things that are like, this is insanely disruptive. This is going to change the industry. Nothing’s ever happened. I look at meaningful use. How did meaningful use fundamentally improve hospital financial outcomes or patient outcomes?

Rachel
I would say all it did, one of the big accomplishments is digitizing healthcare

Jeremy
Bingo,

Rachel
Which is a baby step towards what we’re trying to create. However,

Jeremy
Could have done a lot cheaper. I guarantee could have done a lot cheaper

Stuart
World of unintended consequences too, right?

Jeremy
And in a way that was more natural than normal as market demand, because I started in healthcare 2003, In the middle of Meaningful Use happen. Guess what? Siemens envisioned these other ones they were implementing. It wasn’t like they weren’t implementing, and we probably would’ve been a much better place where we could have been leveraging data and using data and it’s such higher, better way than we are, but it doesn’t matter. This is the world we live in, so all we can do now is how do you help? I mean, that’s really what you’re doing, right? You’re giving better access to data so that organization can improve at the core that as more and more people tap out of the healthcare industry, it’s not like their patient volumes are going to decrease. So what you’re doing is going to help them keep their head above water and hopefully get back into the ship. Really get above it. And so that’s why I think you guys are going to be really successful, what you’re doing. So that’s my goal. Anything that I can do in my company can do that just can help the hospitals improve, the clinics improve and the companies that serve improve. That’s really what we’re trying to do. But how do you help somebody that isn’t? It’s almost like everyone needs to go into a 12 step program. If they don’t acknowledge they really need the help, then there’s really nothing you can do.

Stuart
It’s the Groundhog Day component, right? Yeah. There we go. No, this has been great, Jeremy. Really appreciate your candor and your thoughts.

Jeremy
No, it’s been fun.

Stuart
This was fun. It’s been fun.

The healthcare startup environment is like Jerry Maguire meets Groundhog Day, according to Reaction Data President Jeremy Bikman, and it takes a lot of grit to succeed. In an industry often referred to as “where startups go to die,great tech and great ideas aren’t enough. Learn what Bikman says separates those who succeed from those who don’t, and the two questions every startup needs to answer 

 

FEATURED ON THIS PODCAST

Sign up for podcast notifications

If you’d like to know when we release a new episode of our podcast, sign up with your email and we’ll let you know when a new episode is ready.