We continue our Experts in Patient Access series with Graham Gardner, MD, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder at Kyruus. Prior to Kyruus, Graham was a Venture Executive at Highland Capital Partners where he co-founded Generation Health and served as the company’s Chief Medical Officer through its acquisition by CVS Caremark. He is also the Co-Founder of SynapDx, a molecular diagnostic company focused on developing a blood test to enable the earlier detection of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Graham completed his clinical training in internal medicine and cardiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, where he also served as Chief Medical Resident. Read what Graham has to say about his passion for patient access, what inspired him to start Kyruus, and his "moneyball" philosophy to building teams.
How did you first get connected to Patient Access? What compelled you to start Kyruus?
I was raised with the worldview that we’re all different as people, that we are all beautiful in our own way, and that we all have our relative strengths and weaknesses. That was particularly evident to me when I was practicing medicine. Everybody cares deeply about taking care of patients, yet there are variations in the way that care is delivered based on physicians’ unique skills and training.
After seeing the movie Moneyball, I became intrigued with bringing that same data paradigm to the world of healthcare. We have a lot of statistics on providers - claims data, articles published, insurance plans accepted, etc. - but no one was using them to understand how to match providers to patients in the right way. After several conversations with health systems around the challenges they were facing with coordinating care within a defined network, we realized that a data-driven approach to patient-physician matching could help them solve their enormous supply-demand mismatch problem in a way that would benefit patients, embrace the uniqueness of providers, and drive enormous financial upside for the system.
Tell us about your background and how your previous experience has contributed to your work at Kyruus.
I’m a cardiologist by training. I had declared at the age of 8 that I was going to be a doctor and for many years, I loved the intellectual pursuit of medicine as well as the privilege that it was to take care of patients. About 10 years ago, as the learning curve began to slow down for me, I became restless. I knew I wanted to leverage my clinical training but to apply it at a different scale. I went to business school and then found my way to the intersection between healthcare, business, and technology.
What have you learned about our customers and the challenges they face in delivering care?
The biggest surprise early on was realizing how poorly health systems actually understood their providers. I’ll never forget the first time we delivered a report to a client with all their providers and their attributes, and it was 10% off from their list. Initially I was aghast because I thought we did something wrong, but it was actually their report that was wrong. They had providers who were deceased or had moved to a competitive institution. That’s when we really realized the enormous opportunity we had to actually create the digital content platform to help them understand their providers and how to best utilize them in providing care.
Tell me about your philosophy on building teams.
We’ve taken the same moneyball approach to building our company. We very deliberately recruited experienced healthcare administrators as well as experts from outside healthcare who could bring best practices around data, consumerism, capacity management, etc. from other industries like finance or travel. I’m a big believer in diversity. Wisdom comes from listening and integrating the insights from many different kinds of people.
What’s one of your most important leadership lessons?
Establishing standards and accountability while still being open to creativity and risk taking. It’s hard to balance and I still don’t know that I always get it right. One of the lessons I drew from medicine stems from wrong site surgery. Most times these errors don’t happen because a person makes a bad decision but because the process is bad and enables natural human error. As an example, we talk a lot on our engineering team around “sharp knife initiatives” that need highly experienced engineers and lots of process oversight versus other projects where we can empower people with simple guardrails but encourage them to be creative.
What excites you about the future of Patient Access?
To me, it’s the clinical mission. It’s wonderful that we have a platform that can help drive top-line growth for health systems and deliver care more efficiently, but at the end of the day we know that the matches we’re making actually translate into better clinical outcomes. That to me is really exciting. I went into medicine to make people’s lives better, and here’s this way of helping all of my colleagues across the healthcare landscape operate at the top of their game and leverage their strengths in a way that benefits millions of patients.
It’s exciting to see how many people across healthcare have started to care about Patient Access. The economic and operational incentives are aligning with movements around patient experience and outcomes to create a huge win-win, so that suggests to me that this is going to be a big movement.