An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Jeremy Powell (founder and CEO) of Acclivity Health, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Acclivity Health – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
In early 2017, after witnessing the care experiences of aging friends and family members and working nearly 20 years in healthcare technology, a group of innovators continued to see healthcare ecosystem failures occurring for the sickest patients. Those patients make up about 5 percent of the population but account for 50 percent of the annual spend. They seek holistic care, but instead find fragmented, disjointed, and incomplete care because of their clinical complexity. Our team realized the need for a new technology platform for healthcare that would provide coordinated, higher quality care for these patients and reduce overall spend. This platform could consume data from thousands of sources and analyze clinical, financial, device, and patient reported data to drive insights into the needs, disease burden, functional status, and care journeys of our sickest members of society. Acclivity started this innovative build in 2017. Today, we have over 200 customers across all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and DC) and serve the needs of over 8 million patients.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
Payment reform has been a top-of-mind piece of the healthcare environment for the past 50 years, and now that we are aging the “Baby Boomers” into Medicare at 10,000 per day, the stresses on the funds to support our “Silver Tsunami” continue to put a drag on innovation. That is a recipe for disaster, unless we can find efficiencies through technology and staff to serve our aged adult patients more effectively. The good news is, CMS and The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation have been focused on this significant problem since 2012. Getting ready for the “Greying of America”, Medicare has several really big reimbursement reforms aligned directly with the needs of our sickest members of the population. This has provided all of us with a tailwind to ensure a brighter future for the healthcare of our aged adults.
What does the future hold for Acclivity Health?
We have a great set of partners and a substantial customer-base, and we are providing incredible outcomes across the entire national landscape. That kind of foundation ensures that we will have many opportunities to scale our technologies to further our care pathways and extend our reach. We are more than 5 years into deep investments in machine learning models to predict outcomes so that we can proactively meet patient needs before they are negatively impacted with poorer than optimal clinical and financial outcomes. We have data coming to us directly from Medicare (the largest payor in the United States) that allows us to provide clinicians with a 360 degree view of their patients’ entire medical journeys, not just the data they collect within their own Electronic Health Records. It also enables us to directly target, engage, and drive outcomes seamlessly within the native workflows in clinics, hospitals, post-acute locations, and home environment.
Our goal and north star is to consistently support quality care for patients with chronic and serious illness whom the system too often fails. That means giving healthcare providers the insights they need to ensure their patients get preventive and proactive care, avoid unnecessary emergency department and hospital stays, and, when needed, have access to palliative and hospice care that improves quality of care and reduces health care spending. We believe we can build an all-inclusive solution that offers all members of society personalized care when facing their toughest chapters of life.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Jacksonville?
We are very fortunate to have Jacksonville, Florida as our home. Our business operates out of the Southbank Downtown area and we are lucky to be surrounded by pure play technology companies like NLP Logix and technologies in our sector like Forcura. Ted and Craig are great partners and colleagues. Legal services abound to help with anything from corporation formation and contract creation to M&A and capital fundraising, and we’ve been helped through most of those needs during our journey by local firms like RezLegal. We have had great mentors come into our business and lead us from the earliest days through today and into the future, including mentorships from Jim Liang and Jeff Davis (12Mavens). There is much more support than you might expect in the Jacksonville area, and I’m proud to have our business headquartered here.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Embrace the grind of focused thinking in the early days and embrace diffuse thinking in the latter days. Contemplating building a business on your own is the first (and maybe the easiest) step. Talking about it should lead to working on it, then working “in” it. These steps are NOT glamorous, but they make the difference between success and failure in the early days. You should expect to have your life consumed for a while, which means you’ll need support from your family for the crazy early days when you run almost every function yourself (sales, marketing, product, engineering, strategy, finance, and operations). Obviously, you must prepare to add the right caliber and kind of resources as you move forward. Scaling to give these functions new leaders takes grit, then grace. Finding the self-awareness to “let go” of the grind in favor of scale takes a real shift. We’ve made this change at Acclivity and have invested in our leaders, their staff, and our technologies to ensure our investments create material returns. Learning about the “seasons” of a business and planning for these shifts (and how you evolve your participation as one of the leaders) will make you a successful entrepreneur.