As CEO and leader of multiple early-stage, high-growth healthcare and technology businesses, here are 5 key lessons that have made the difference in scaling profitably and successfully.  As CEO of CRF Inc., a mobile patient/clinician platform for clinical trials, and now at Health Helm, Inc., a mobile patient/clinician platform for self reporting and communications, my toughest lessons have involved balancing:  achieve milestones, demonstrate clinical evidence and impact while stretching resources to achieve results.

1. Listen to, learn from our customers – in our case, our patients and their clinicians

Our mobile software platforms over the last 15 years are designed to enable and motivate patient-reported-outcomes (PRO) or self-reporting.  The Food and Drug Administration has prioritized PRO in healthcare because of better outcomes and health, in large part because patients know themselves best and they pay attention to what they track.  In any business, the “voice of the customer” is key: seeking it, being open-minded to learn from it, even when the feedback is negative or contrary. We constantly strive to gain insights from our patients and clinicians.  What can we learn from their stories? What impact are these things making in their lives? And how can we make a difference? Every team member every day is driven by our patients and clinicians, gathering and analyzing their data and clinical evidence, and applying that to making that difference.  This is basic fuel to scaling our business engine!

2. Build a shared vision

Our company’s vision is to make a measurable improvement in the quality of our patients’ health.  We are a data-and-results-driven team with a platform that produces the evidence demonstrating better outcomes, lower costs and more satisfied patients and clinicians.  The data and continuing analytics, in turn, enable our patients and clinicians – and our company – to learn, adjust and improve. I had the privilege of working with and learning from Bryan Smith, a co-author of “The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook,” about creating a core purpose or destiny for our businesses.  With my teams, we shape our core purpose into a shared vision, and continually evolve it as we learn and gain insight from our customers. Successful scaling requires continual evolution of our shared vision, tracking our progress against the vision, and transparently reporting meaningful results (good, bad and ugly) while growing profitable revenues.

3. Grow a high-performance team

In my last blog, I talked about high-performance teams.  Critical to any successful team is a combination of bright, curious minds, shared passion about the business’ or team’s core purpose, and the right mix of skills and expertise to get the job done.  Our team members share common values, have mutual respect for one another, while demonstrating both conviction and being open-minded to new points of view or data. Especially in rapidly scaling business, we have intentionally mixed a combination of “been-there-done-that,” more seasoned team members and “fresh” perspectives (new to this domain or earlier in their careers) – this combination enables us to move smarter, faster.

4. Deliver operational excellence

Operational excellence is obvious, a “no brainer,” but is a challenge for rapidly scaling businesses.  Clearly mapping each step of the operations, clear roles, accountabilities for us, our customers and any third parties, setting clear expectations and metrics at each step – all are critical to success. Setting clear expectations with our customers – and not overpromising – and managing and communicating continually are keys.  Bumps will occur; we must be prepared for them, own up to our part in those, and fix them quickly. This is where our team of “seasoned” and “fresh” experiences can make a difference: we define what quality and success look like, how to measure and report them, what potential risks and failures lie ahead, and how to prevent or mitigate bumps when they occur.

5. Cash is “king” (or “queen”)!

In all businesses, and especially in rapidly scaling businesses, cash is king. Managing cash smartly, spending where it makes real impact to build value, conserving it for uncertainties – these are the ways to achieve pivotal milestones: with customers, in the market, building assets and value for shareholders.  How many earlier stage companies raise a round of financing only to blow through their cash too rapidly, falling short of value milestones? I have been very fortunate with CFOs, investors and financially attuned team members aligned around making the smartest use of cash.

In conclusion, my balancing these five critical success factors to achieve forward momentum and results is key.

Article was originally shared on INC Blog by Springboard Enterprises.

The Megan House Foundation founder Timothy Grover announced an innovative program launched in partnership with Health Helm, Inc. to provide its Trusted Success Coach mobile health support for its residents recovering from substance use disorder. During the initial 4 months of the program, residents and graduates have demonstrated strong, sustained compliance of 69% in self reporting daily questionnaires and tasks.

Megan’s House is a comprehensive residential recovery treatment home for young women between the ages of 18 and 26 who are recovering from drug dependence and other co‑occurring disorders. Its multifaceted approach to the treatment of substance use disorder includes evidenced-based practices to build each young woman’s foundation for meaningful, substance-free lives. Megan’s House considers aftercare placement (including to its affiliate Success Home, Erin’s House) and ongoing recovery support a vital component to long-term recovery. 

Grover and The Megan House Foundation team aim to provide mobile support, care coordination, and communication between Megan’s House Success Coaches and their residents, graduates at Erin’s House, and other alumni living independently after treatment through Health Helm’s mobile app, Trusted Success Coach.  “Staying connected to a trusting and supportive team is a key element for successful recovery,” states Tim Grover, Founder of The Megan House Foundation.  “We are excited to offer our residents and graduates this opportunity,” he continued.

Current residents and graduates using the Trusted Success Coach app report,

  • “I feel connected.  It’s good that [Coach] reaches out to me.  Good to have someone who cares; who keeps me on my toes.”
  • “It keeps me on track.”
  • “It keeps me motivated when I’m having a tough week.”

The Success Coach using the platform reports, ” “The TSC app allows me to better support our residents and graduates.  It provides me a view into their recovery and lives I wouldn’t have otherwise.”

“Using the TSC app keeps me connected to our residents and graduated. It creates a level of comfortability that permits an open dialogue between myself and these young women.”

Health Helm, Inc. — a growing digital health company successfully commercializing a superior post-acute care plan adherence solution — announces its expansion into the chronic care domain with the signing of new customer The Megan House Foundation.  “Joining forces to support its treatment of young adults struggling to overcome the devastation of substance use disorder is a natural fit. Our mobile app and web-based portal are easily configurable and provide a strong closed-loop communication link between clinicians and their charges. The app collects daily lifestyle and behavior choices from those in recovery and maps those choices against the adherence goals of their individual treatment plans.”

“People seeking treatment for addiction are a large, growing, and underserved population,” Ms. McNamara continues. “It complements our continued dedication to the post-acute care market and post-operative markets, like orthopedics, where we continue to invest heavily.” The Megan House Foundation implementation joins together its evidence-based treatment approach with Health Helm’s rich data collection and analytics capabilities.

 

About The Megan House Foundation, Inc. 

The mission at Megan’s House is to improve the quality of life of its residents through an evidence-based substance abuse treatment program that emphasizes individual dignity, self-respect and empowerment. In doing so the treatment team utilizes flexibility, support and outstanding client services to meet individual needs and establish a culture that promotes wellness and success.   http://themeganhouse.org/

About Health Helm, Inc. 

Health Helm, Inc. has developed its proprietary Trusted Patient Coach and Trusted Success Coach software platform to address the growing problems of high post-discharge hospital readmissions and non-adherence by patients to medications and care plans. This platform closes the communication loop between patients and their clinicians, is configurable to post-acute and chronic conditions, and uses real-time analytics and other functionality to support patients, clinicians, and providers. Health Helm, Inc.TM is led by a team with extensive healthcare, clinical trial, and patient adherence experience.

Last month, our CEO, Pamela McNamara, spoke at the U.S. Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Leadership in a Diverse Environment. The agenda addressed the challenges and opportunities that women face in leadership positions, both in the Navy and beyond.

McNamara was excited to be involved as NAVSEA launches this empowering movement, at a time where it is more critical than ever. As Admiral John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations noted, “Diversity shines light on the biases and barriers” faced to win in today’s competitive environment.  Admiral Richardson highlighted the move towards autonomous systems, and the changing role of leaders that can interpret complex situations, adding value and opinions to situations that robots cannot, and executing smart, timely decisions.  

The talks at the event were inspiring, especially one by Nicole Manson, Legal Counsel at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, on “Leading with Courage, Confidence and Competence”.

McNamara’s own talk was titled, “Creating Your Personal Vision and Using it to Build High Performance Teams for Success”. Drawing from her own personal experience as CEO of industry leaders such as Arthur D. Little, CRF Health, and Cambridge Consultants, she spoke about harnessing the ‘common ground’ of her team members’ ‘personal visions’ to achieve bold results. Referencing work by Peter Senge and colleagues (in Senge et al’s book, Fifth Discipline Field Book), McNamara and those in her seminar shared experiences harnessing the power of personal visions and the common ground in mission-driven businesses and teams to achieve major impact and make a sustained difference.  

Mission- and Service-driven teams and businesses, when aligned around a core purpose or goal and when harnessing the best talents and thinking of a diverse team, achieve enormous and lasting results.  McNamara concluded her session spotlighting Health Helm’s mission to support patients and their caregivers in successful recovery.  The recovery journeys of residents are a long, tough road for those living at Health Helm customer, Megan’s House in Lowell, Massachusetts.  Use of Health Helm’s Trusted Patient Coach mobile app is making a difference keeping residents connected to their coach and community, and on track in that recovery journey.

This article was originally posted on Springboard Enterprise’s Inc Blog

If I could only offer one piece of advice to other entrepreneurs from my 30+ years of experience in business, it would be that the key to success is teamwork. While that may seem like an obvious statement, or even a cliche, the bottom line is that without a great team, a great idea will either underperform or fail.

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement and stress of growing a new business. “The customer comes first”, “ensure your investors are happy,”, “capture revenues and achieve a high profit margin as quickly as possible” are valid priorities and reasonable thoughts to have as you grow your idea into a business. But an idea simply doesn’t become a business without an incredible team. So my advice to entrepreneurs is to search for these vital ingredients in potential team members:

1. Find bright, curious, and challenging individuals who are smarter than you.

You want to surround yourself with teammates who challenge you, albeit, in a positive way. If you’re the smartest one on your team, your ideas won’t be tested until they reach the market. However, if the individuals have the courage to challenge your ideas using critical thinking and curiosity, your product will only be enhanced. At CRF Health, I was surrounded by extremely bright, inquisitive team members. At times it was difficult to be challenged by these individuals on the path I wanted to take our product, or the way that I was doing something. But it was an incredible and humbling experience to work with such a team, and their pushback ultimately resulted in a better product for our customers.

2. Find individuals who have courage, conviction and integrity.

You want team members who will do the right thing for customers, other team members, investors and all stakeholders — not just “the boss.””. An example was when I worked on a deliverable for a strategically significant, important customer with unrealistic deadlines. My head of operations came to me and told me the deadlines the customer demanded weren’t feasible unless he was going to work his team “beyond the bone,” sacrificing quality, putting at risk the solution, the customers and the company in the short and long run. We chose to be honest with the customer about the challenge and realities, adjusted the plan to be more realistic and proactively managed their expectations. We delivered a better product while ensuring that we kept our own employees engaged and productive. The customer ended up giving us more business for our honesty — which wouldn’t have happened if my team members didn’t have the courage or conviction to speak their mind and to find more practical solutions.

3. Find individuals who share a passion for your company’s vision.

While my companies and jobs have been challenging and have brought me away from my family for long stints, I have always loved what I do. I enjoy getting up in the morning and working on something that I am passionate about. Among the most important ingredients in recruiting team members is to learn about their passions and to discover if or how those overlap with our company’s vision. If a team member turns up to the job, views it as a “clock in, clock out” position, that won’t benefit the fast-moving business — like we are — nor that team member. At Health Helm, Inc., all of my teammates are passionate about health care and patient success. Whether it’s because we’ve had a family member that’s undergone surgery and has felt lost post-discharge, or because we’re passionate about improving health care system, we all find some connection with our core purpose to make a difference with a patient and their caregivers.  We enjoy working together. This makes a huge difference — we are intrinsically motivated and more determined to produce the best possible product for our patients, their clinical and family caregivers, and our customers. The key is to find individuals who can articulate why they want to join your team, and why they are passionate about and share some meaningful purpose with your company’s vision.

I have been extremely fortunate to lead teams that have encompassed these ingredients. My past and current team members have navigated through times of challenge and chaos, and to celebrate in times of success. Our “power team” at CRF Inc. — great gals and guys with diverse talents, experiences and ideas — were key to achieving quality, results and to scaling profitably.

It has been nearly one full year since Health Helm, Inc. participated in Springboard Enterprises’ Tech Innovation Hub in New York City. Health Helm’s CEO, Pamela McNamara, reflected recently on the valuable takeaways from participating in a competitive program like Springboard, and how far Health Helm has come since.

Last September, our team successfully pitched to Springboard’s advisors to secure a spot in the competitive network’s Tech Innovation Hub. The pitch alone proved to be a refreshing and valuable experience for Health Helm because the exercise compelled us to carefully examine our short- and long-term strategies, and home in on our goals as a company. Rarely has such an exercise promoted so much personal self-reflection and development for me as a company leader.

The Springboard Bootcamp itself was an exciting experience that greatly benefitted our team. During the Bootcamp, we deconstructed our entire company strategy, and began to reconstruct it with the support of Springboard’s advisors.  The incredible advisor network of strategic partners, successful entrepreneurs, and investors coached me and the thirteen other impressive CEOs who were chosen for the 2016 Tech Innovation Hub. I emerged from the Bootcamp with a clearer message for Health Helm’s patients, clinicians, providers, and our investors.

What were some of the biggest takeaways?

We confirmed that Health Helm has the right focus. The advisors agreed that Health Helm has a clear target market, with identifiable target customers. They also agreed with our strategy to conduct and publish a formal clinical study. While such a study takes time to complete, it provides invaluable clinical evidence that we are achieving our patient care goals with honesty and efficacy. The study demonstrates that our platform works well in the hands of patients and providers. Additionally, it demonstrates the configurability required by hospitals, which will only work with a broad-based platform.

The second big takeaway came when we addressed how to deliver an impactful business pitch. I have been delivering presentations in high-powered business situations for over thirty years, but Springboard’s Bootcamp reinforced that there is always more to learn, and always room for improvement. While repeatedly dismantling and rebuilding Health Helm’s investor pitch felt frustrating at times, the exercise succeeded in strengthening our message. It succeeded in prompting my own internal reflection on my strengths and my abilities to lead a team. The Bootcamp reminded me that investors are not only interested in the business idea, but just as importantly in the complete leadership team, which in our case is incredibly strong.

Serial Medical Tech / Digital Health Entrepreneur Offers Experience and Leadership in Successful Cloud-Based Platforms

Boston, MA May 2, 2017— Health Helm, Inc., an emerging digital health company commercializing a superior patient-care coordination solution, Trusted Patient CoachTM (TPC), announces the appointment of Nancy Briefs to its Board of Directors. Briefs is a successful serial entrepreneur in the medical and digital health market with 30+ years of experience.

“We are very excited to welcome Nancy to our board of directors,” said Pamela McNamara, Co-Founder and CEO of Health Helm, Inc.TM. “Her 30+ years of successful leadership in building companies and her recent experience leading a transformative digital platform at InfoBionic will definitely serve Health Helm, Inc. TM well as we commercialize our platform.”

“I am honored to join the Health Helm, Inc.TM Board of Directors and work with this exceptional team,” Briefs said. “Ms. McNamara has been a leader across the healthcare technology landscape for decades, including her previous work at CRF Health and as CEO of Arthur D Little. I look forward to sharing my experiences and contributing to the future direction and growth of Health Helm, Inc.TM.”

Ms. Briefs received a BA in Psychology and a BSc in Business from Emporia University and received an MBA in Marketing & Finance from Golden Gate University.

About Health Helm, Inc. – Health Helm, Inc. has developed their proprietary software platform, TPC, to address the growing problems of high post-discharge hospital readmission and medication and care-plan non-adherence by patients.TPC closes the communication loop between patients and their clinicians, is configurable to post-acute and chronic conditions, and uses real-time analytics and functionality to enable increased adherence by patients to their care plans. Health Helm, Inc.TM is led by a team with extensive healthcare, clinical practice and clinical trial, and patient adherence experience.