An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Chris Clark (founder and Chief Strategy Officer) of TimelyMD, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of TimelyMD – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
Luke Hejl, Alan Dennington and I started TimelyMD in 2017. What began as a dinner conversation between Luke and I about starting a business became a year-long adventure researching telehealth and virtual health care, specifically in higher education.
TimelyMD began as a medical-only telehealth company, and partnered with its first school, Abilene Christian University, in January 2018. After launching our first program, we quickly identified mental health as a top priority on campuses and added mental health counseling the next semester, in the fall of 2018.
Fast forward to 2020 when COVID forced colleges to find new ways to care for students who were suddenly dispersed across the country and under a different kind of stress with an impending global pandemic. Campus leaders’ questions went from “Why should I consider telehealth?” to “How quickly can you provide telehealth for our students?”. As the only higher ed-specific company on the market at that time, we immediately rolled out eight- and 12-week bridge programs, in addition to our existing standard partnership offerings that provided virtual medical and mental health care to students anytime, anywhere. In the summer of 2020, we added psychiatry and health coaching services. In 2021, we introduced basic needs assistance to help students facing issues such as food, housing, and transportation insecurity.
This year, we rolled out a digital self-care content library and a resoundingly successful peer support community to provide students with additional ways to seek support on their own time.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
We pioneered the first telehealth program that offered students access to virtual healthcare at no cost. We were selling a new concept in higher education, and our buyers initially thought we were trying to replace campus health centers, which couldn’t be further from the truth. So, one of our first challenges to overcome was to make our messaging clear that we wanted to work alongside the on-campus counseling center and clinic to take great care of students together. Our team-based approach remains central to our business and has been critical to our success.
As demand for our virtual health care service grows, so does the need to scale our team. We’re continually growing our diverse, national provider network to meet greater demands from higher ed, while ensuring students are able to access a provider on-demand in under 5 minutes on average. Additionally, while more than half of our nearly 200 full-time employees are local to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, we have a significant number of people who are working remotely across the country. It’s important that our people feel connected, engaged, and fulfilled by what they do. This type of work culture is paramount to employee success. As evidenced by our recent inclusion on Inc.’s Best Workplaces list and Top 100 ranking by the Dallas Morning News, we are thankful our employees feel TimelyMD fosters an innovative, inclusive, collaborative, and mission-driven company culture. We are constantly focused on ensuring that this type of work environment continues despite how big and how fast TimelyMD grows. We owe every bit of our success to our team that always puts students first to deliver equitable, on-demand access to care.
What does the future hold for TimelyMD?
Student health and well-being is the pathway to student success. It requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, from peer support to psychiatry, on-campus or online. Ultimately, caring for students is about giving them what they need, when they need it, which is why colleges and universities are turning to TimelyMD and our TimelyCare platform more than anyone else to help their students be well and thrive. We are always looking for and listening to student feedback as they use our TimelyCare services to help inform the evolution of our TimelyCare service offerings. We will continue to grow our provider network and innovate our technology to meet students’ evolving needs and deliver the highest quality care to students. We can’t wait to share what’s in store in 2023, and won’t stop until we realize our vision to help all students be well and thrive.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Fort Worth?
DFW is a burgeoning hotbed for innovation, particularly in healthcare. In fact, five of the 10 fastest-growing North Texas companies on the Inc. 5000 list are in health services, with TimelyMD among the key drivers of innovation and enhanced reputation in the sector. It is exciting to see so many amazing, innovative, and life-changing ideas being born in our own backyard and we are honored to be among these incredible companies.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Decide how you want to change the world. Identify your mission early on and do everything you can to see it through. It is important to surround yourself with others who believe in you and your mission and to find employees who are just as passionate about what it is you’re trying to achieve. I always wanted to do something that would have a positive impact on society, and our people are what make TimelyMD a success. We want to foster an environment where our team feels fulfilled by what they do. Creating this type of work culture is paramount, and I encourage entrepreneurs to invest in creating a culture and a team that is as committed to your mission and vision as you are.