Give us a brief recap of your entrepreneurial career since you graduated from Owen:
I started MEDarchon during my second year of Owen and was fortunate to receive two rounds of non-dilutive capital from the business school through the Summer Innovation and Sohr Grants. I was able to raise a seed round about the time that I graduated and used that funding to recruit several developers who built our MVP. That led to us gaining Vanderbilt's CMIO as an advisor and being able to iterate our product such that it could be brought into large health systems. From there, we were able to raise an A round of capital, gain our first paying client, expand our team to where we now have eleven employees, and be prepared to execute a much larger B round with participation from some large healthcare systems.
How did you have the idea for MEDarchon and what does the company do?
The idea for MEDarchon arose from experience working as a research coordinator in a level 1 Trauma Center during undergrad. Around the holidays my junior year, I was sitting in the Major Area of the Emergency Department when a patient started screaming about pain in her legs. It turned out that she had been diagnosed with abdominal aortic aneurysm about an hour before. The vascular surgery team had been stat paged to the ED but they did not show up and the ED staff lost track of this with all of the chaos happening. The patient's aneurysm had now ruptured and I ended up having to take her husband to a counseling room while physicians administered palliative care.
Unfortunately, these kind of errors happen all too frequently in healthcare. Up to 3% of inpatients experience a preventable medical error and 2 out of every 3 medical errors is caused by breakdown in communication. We also know from the clinical literature that communication empowers getting patients in and out of the hospital quickly, preventing re-admissions, conserving resources, and ensuring patient satisfaction.
At MEDarchon, we are leveraging the trend of doctors and nurses using texting as the primary communication modality to reinvent clinical communications. Specifically, we have built smartphone and web portal applications which enable secure, HIPAA-compliant communications while layering in functionality designed to detect and prevent communication breakdown. This includes care team management, a smart brain that can route and escalate messages based on patient and provider factors, a tool for patient handoff, a call scheduling solution, and patient and user analytics.
How is it going? What has been challenging and what have your big wins been so far?
The biggest challenge for us was getting our first client. The hospital industry is somewhat risk averse, rightly so. We introduced a ton of risk being an unproven product and company dealing with information security, clinical operations, and patient safety. We were very fortunate to have one of the Harvard-affiliated hospitals be willing to take a chance. We also had big wins through our relationship with Vanderbilt Health and by gaining patent protection for the essential elements of our communication solution.
How has the Owen alumni network and the Nashville startup community been helpful to you so far?
I am very fortunate to have attended Owen and fairly confident MEDarchon would have never happened without it. Many of our angel investors have been Owen Alumni and the network has also helped with strategic advice and client introductions. Additionally, we were very fortunate to incubate at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and to have Michael Burcham as a member of our board. In general, the resources available to us by being in Nashville and the support we have received from the community has been tremendous.
What are your goals for the company in the future?
Our biggest goal as a company is to prove through a clinical study that we can significantly impact the symptoms of communication breakdown. We are working towards this with the academic consortium we are building and hope to prove that we can reduce medical errors, the cost of inpatient care, length of stay, and re-admissions while improving clinician and patient satisfaction.
Knowing what you know now, what advice do you have for current Owen students that want to start a company?
Knowing what I know now, I would encourage Owen students to take as many human and organizational performance classes as possible, learn how to sell (if they don't already have sales experience), and start building as many deep relationships with alumni and the community as you can now. We have done some of these well and some of these we have had to learn. I am convinced that being able to do those three things well is what is truly key to running a successful company, regardless of whether its a start-up.