It takes grit

July 17, 2019 Joule Inc.

Innovation isn’t always about a ‘lightbulb moment’. Sometimes it’s all about solving a problem that’s been frustrating your clients for years. This journey is often rocky, and you must pivot along the way. With purpose, determination and the right support, the possibilities are endless.

On this episode of Boldly, we speak with Drs. Puneet Seth and Damon Ramsey from InputHealth―a company they built from the ground up early in their medical careers by taking risks, overcoming challenges and knocking on doors to get their product into provider hands.

Driven by a strong desire to improve the system they would practice in, they took action. As a resident, Dr. Ramsey saw an issue with existing EMRs and their transactional nature. He began working on a patient engagement modular platform to enhance them. Dr. Puneet Seth, who he went to medical school with, joined as Chief Medical Officer in 2013.

Their journey to entrepreneurship wasn’t easy―it was full of risk and uncertainty. They had to sell their product door to door and pivot based on feedback. Then, they began to see the fruits of their labour. They continued to develop module after module with new features. Due to demand from customers who loved their modules, InputHealth set out to develop a new type of EMR system—a ‘collaborative health record’—where patients, clinicians and the entire health team work together.

Why is it an exciting time to be an entrepreneur in the health care world? Listen to this episode to find out!

tweetable: “Entrepreneurship―it involves taking risks and it involves being bold.”

Key takeaways

Can you tell us more about your story? What inspired InputHealth?

  • They saw a general dissatisfaction with EMRs among clinicians and patients alike early in their careers.
  • EHRs are one of the only examples where technology seems to have made things less efficient than before—they noticed a lot of complaints, question and burnout.
  • As medical students at the time, they felt compelled to create a solution that also brought patients into the fold.
  • The Collaborative Health Record was born.
tweetable: “As medical students at the time, we were really compelled to create a solution.”

What was it like starting out as an entrepreneur? What lessons can you share?

  • Ask yourself: “Why am I doing this?”
  • Be bold, brave and courageous.
  • It’s important to be honest with yourself because it can be a very expensive venture—try to anticipate the costs of the journey early on.
  • Find your support networks and lean on them.
  • It’s important to be open-minded with your idea.
  • Be fluid with how you are trying to solve the problem.
tweetable: “Entrepreneurship is almost a marriage in and of itself.”

Do you think your medical background helped you succeed?

  • They think of themselves as clinicians first, business-people second.
  • It makes a significant difference speaking to them as a colleague―you can connect more easily.
  • They are used to a certain work ethic that has helped them with the endurance it takes.
  • Entrepreneurship often involves going against the grain and being disruptive.
tweetable: “Working on a one-to-one level has immense value.”

As physicians, you have a deep understanding of what tools are needed for the profession. How has this given you a strategic advantage?

  • Being a doctor gives you a strong vantage point to understand problems on the front-line.
  • When leadership doesn’t have that front-end experience in health care, a full understanding is lacking.
  • EMRs as we see them today were not built with the patient in mind.
  • They can accelerate the way innovations are introduced because of their medical knowledge.
  • That’s why the CHR introduces a new component to health records: the patients.
tweetable: "We go in there as entrepreneurs who are practicing physicians…You can actually have your cake and eat it too if you synergize your clinical work with your entrepreneurial work.”

How important was it to listen to feedback?

  • Listening to everyone involved in the process can improve the overall care experience.
  • One of the keys to their success was seeking insight from a trusted network of colleagues.
  • Having different channels for feedback was incredibly valuable—they included patients and administrative staff in that process as well.
tweetable: “Engaging patients actually increases your efficiency.”

Was there a single lightbulb moment when you realized this could work?

  • No, it was not one of those situations.
  • This problem they were seeking to solve didn’t lend itself to a big lightbulb idea—it stemmed from many years of frustration.
  • Although there were many different smaller lightbulb moments spread across their team.
  • They looked outside traditional medical practices to see if their idea would fit into the workflows in other environments.
  • They kept hitting a variety of walls in the process. This led them to pivot their approach 3.5 years ago.

What are common qualities that make successful entrepreneurs?

  • Strong work ethic.
  • Creativity.
  • The diligence and persistence to translate ideas to reality.
  • Endurance.
tweetable: “But more important than the hard work ethic is that ability to be creative and actually balance the hard work with tangible outputs.”

What opportunities do you see for entrepreneur-physicians today?

  • Our system is largely the same as it was in the early 1900’s.
  • Opportunities are continuing to grow at an exponential rate.
  • They are able to bring in their expertise as physicians to improve patient-care and medical practices.
  • What is the incentive?
  • There are a lot of specialties that will be radically changed. Help lead the change!
  • What makes that individual entrepreneur tick? That will help channel your time and energy.
tweetable: “Essentially, we are one of the latest entries to the party: health care.”

Recommended resources

Can patient-generated data help physicians deliver better care?, a Boldy article by Drs. Puneet Seth and Damon Ramsey.

Organizational Grit, a Harvard Business Review article by Thomas H. LeeAngela L. Duckworth.

Grit: The power of passion and perseverance, a TED Talk by Angela Lee Duckworth (video)

The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine Is in Your Hands, a book by Dr. Eric Topol

 

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Are you making waves in innovation or have a bold idea to share? We would love to hear your story. Connect with us at jouleinquiries@cma.ca to have your thoughts featured in a future podcast.

The opinions stated by podcast participants are made in a personal capacity and do not reflect those of the Canadian Medical Association and its subsidiaries including Joule. Joule does not endorse any views, product, service, association, company or industry mentioned in this podcast.

About the author

Joule Inc.

Joule, a CMA subsidiary, is at the hub of Canada’s health care innovation eco-system. Having brokered key relationships amongst system players, we are able to identify, curate and create digital solutions. We empower the adoption of digital innovations that have the potential to improve access to health care for all Canadians.

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