Most often, people, businesses, and economies are shaped and changed over time through a gradual process of cause and effect. And sometimes, things like COVID-19 happen — which throws everything we know about early adoption, selling, and marketing out the window. Instead, it demands we adjust, adapt, and pivot, or get out of the way of those who can.
In this episode, Bryan Graven, CEO of HiLite Health, throws his company’s window wide open and allows us to take a glimpse into their positioning when COVID-19 hit.
He speaks candidly about adjusting marketing and selling processes during the chaos of a pandemic. Bryan also speaks about the importance of recognizing the opportunities your company may be able to capitalize on and what health innovation, sales, and marketing might look in a post-COVID economy.
Bryan touches on:
- The effectiveness of video in digital outreach and its ability to build trust and credibility, all while offering clients convenience and better comprehension of the messages you’re communicating
- The challenges of running a start-up business and how that plays into the COVID economy
- When the time is right to sell your innovation vs. building relationships
- Positioning your company to be in the right place when the chaos calms down
- The hidden opportunities this pandemic has created to build and strengthen business relationships, enhance and fine tune your innovation, tighten your brand messaging, and pivot into a stronger position to hit the ground running when the dust settles
Bryan Graven is CEO of HiLite Health, a company that creates tailored digital solutions platforms for the medical community. He spent 20 years in the healthcare IT arena, including 10 years as CEO of National Physician Services, before turning his energy and passion into developing HiLite Health and its digital health platform HiLiteMD.
Driven to seek out solutions through innovation, Bryan leveraged those two decades of IT expertise to develop and deliver the best possible solutions and resources and empower the healthcare community to offer better business and patient experiences.
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Speaker 1: Welcome back, COIQ listeners. On today's episode we have Bryan Graven who is the CEO for highlight health. Welcome to the show Bryan.
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Speaker 2: Hey Roxy, how are you today?
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Speaker 1: I'm doing great. I'm looking forward to having this conversation with you.
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Speaker 2: Yeah, thank you. I'm excited to be here.
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Speaker 1: So maybe just to get started, tell our listeners who maybe aren't familiar with you or what you do, just a little bit about your background and what highlight health is all about.
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Speaker 2: Sure. So I've been in the health care, uh, it vertical for over 20 years now. And prior to highlight health, uh, I was a CEO of a company called National Physician Services. And that company predominantly provided it solutions to independent physician practices. We would work with hospitals as well and support the ambulatory side of their, their business units. So I did that for about 10 years and about a year and a half ago, you know, I broke off and started my own company, uh, called highly health and, uh, developed a platform called highlight MD. So I didn't want to be a, you know, I guess a one trick pony. So, um, you know, there were some core competencies that, you know, I was very familiar with such as it and revenue cycle, uh, and we still offer those through partner channels, but my primary focus has been, uh, developing and starting up, uh, a digital health platform, uh, which is, you know, Highlight MD.
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Speaker 1: Okay, excellent. So, um, you know, and I, I think you talked about, you know, the conversation that we have today is very different than what we would have had a month ago when we first got acquainted with each other. Right? Everything's like all things go vid now. Um, so I, I think that, um, you know, it'd be good just to kind of jump right into that part of the conversation. What's changed for your business, right? Like, planes are grounded. Um, lots of practice, doors are closed in many ways. You know, just a lot of things have changed. So what's changed for you and your business?
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Speaker 2: So right now, you know, we are looking at this as a potential opportunity and, you know, being a digital health platform, uh, you know, our specialty is, you know, patient communication and being the best at, you know, providing, you know, digital communication and outreach to patients. So, you know, what we've done is we've worked with our clients, knew it too. Uh, strategically you have go over the content and the information that they're sending out to their patients, uh, to communicate, you know, specific information about Covid 19. So patients are now you're receiving communication, uh, that if they're showing any symptoms, they have, uh, been in contact, anyone, uh, who is, you know, either, uh, out of the country and a, you know, an area that could be an issue, uh, or been in contact with somebody who has potentially, you know, symptoms of COBIT 19, tying to reschedule their appointment or give us a call, we'll try to figure out some options.
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So, you know, it's really cool that we were able to, you know, do our part, you know, in this pandemic and help our clients, you know, through some of the challenges that they were having, you know, with patient communication. Uh, in addition to that, uh, we also have, uh, digital surveys. So, you know, we have the survey information that is sent to the patient that actually goes through and itemize that questionnaire asking if they have any specific symptoms. The practice would get that information back and you know, be able to determine whether or not, uh, you know, you need to speak to somebody on the phone before you come in for that visit. So really looking to protect the patients and also protect the providers that are seeing the patients.
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Speaker 1: Yeah, sure. So I, I can only imagine for the customers that you currently have, um, have your, have their usage rates gone up or like, Oh my gosh, I'm so glad we have this communication channel. Let's use it.
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Speaker 2: It's been insane. It's been insane. So one of the value adds with our platform is the fact that we use video. And I had our video production team come in on a Sunday to create, you know, a branded video media, you know, regarding Covid 19, so that we could be ready to send out patient communication anyway that, that night before patients were coming in for that Monday. So it was literally a crisis on our side to figure out what we needed to do to support our clients. But, you know, when you have a crisis, you know, good company, step up, good people step up. And, uh, we, we, we made it happen.
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Speaker 1: Yeah. That's great. Absolutely. And you know, so one of the things that I talk to clients about, and it sounds like, you know, this is already part of your value proposition every day. You know, and I think it's, it's been a really big gap in health care. Um, you know, when companies are wanting to communicate really with any stakeholder group, whether it's a patient or whether it's, um, you know, um, in a sales process, but, you know, other industries have been using video for decades. Right. And, and so, you know, um, like normally healthcare is, you know, have been a laggard with the adoption of digital health. And we know that video converts more than any other hire more than any other piece of content. And so as you think about coven, I mean, I don't know about you, but I am getting inundated with emails regarding coven. I mean brands and people that I'd never even knew had my email address, right? Like it's like a thousand emails a day of like everybody trying to tell me what they're doing with coven and there's not been one, not one that's been a video. Everything is in tech space. And so how do you rise above the noise? How do you break through the noise? Right?
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Speaker 2: Sure, sure. So you know that that's obviously a, you know, a business challenge, you know, and you know, the way we've positioned our product is, yeah, we can send out emails like everyone else. Uh, we can send out text messages like everyone else, but if you want the, the medium that your patients and you, I guess humans in general, you want to to view its video. Yeah. All want to see video, you know, video creates that emotional connection, increases your patient adherence, uh, comprehension and you, you're just much more willing to pay attention. And when I receive video and you know, I'm looking at it, I'm like, okay, now I know what to do. You're reading a, a big long-winded email, which you know, I probably won't read.
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Speaker 1: Right, right. Yeah, absolutely. And I like how you had mentioned, um, you know, when we were talking before, especially when we're talking about health care and, and patient care, you know, depending on the particular situation, you know, a lot of times, you know, they just got a diagnosis that really wasn't so good. Right. Or we're giving them instructions on how to take medication for the first time and you know, communicating that digitally via video is really powerful, but they get to watch it multiple times. Right?
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Speaker 2: That's correct. I, I think it's look at video in itself that, you know, you can watch it over and over. You had to, to raise your, your comprehension. You can watch it anytime, you know, so in the convenience of your, your home on your mobile device, uh, you know, whenever it's convenient for you and instead of you looking, let's say online or looking somewhere else, you went to try to find information. Yeah. You're getting no video information from the doctor that you trust. Yeah.
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Speaker 1: Yup. So I imagine like we just talked about that there is kind of a increased, uh, need for content, um, dynamic content, um, video content for your existing customers. So kind of paint a picture of what's happening with new prospects. Are you, are, is this, you know, coded crisis and you have a digital health platform? Is, is this opening doors that maybe were closed? Is this expediting sales cycles that were maybe kind of in the process, but you know, they were normally six to 12 months and now they're like, I need it now. Let's just talk about that a little bit.
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Speaker 2: Sure, sure. So somebody or let's say a healthcare organization who has nothing. Yeah. It's just looking to get something in place as quickly as possible. Uh, healthcare organizations that already have something, you know, they're winging it right now and just trying to, to get through you at this healthcare crisis. But what we are doing, and I think this is the approach that, you know, what I think is probably best case scenario right now is we're going to come out of this healthcare crisis at some point and everyone is going to look back and they're going to say, what could we have done that? And, and I want our solution, our company to be in a position to say yes, you know, we can help you. We can give your patients, you know, the ultimate digital experience and help you through the next crisis like this. You know, if, if it ever happens and you know, you will be in a much better position, you know, to communicate more effectively with patients.
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Speaker 1: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So you touch on something. So, you know, the, the guests that we have on the show and the people that are listening are really all kind of faced with the same thing is, you know, we're kind of at this crossroads with this coven crisis and thinking about what's our next strategy, right? Because whatever our strategy was kind of pre coven is in many ways, um, null and void, right? Um, like the, the, the sales strategy, the marketing strategy, a lot of that needs to be adapted to what's next. And so as you're thinking about how do you address what you just talked about, like how do you make sure that when we come out of this coven crisis and your target audience is, is kind of having that enlightenment one, how do you help them have that enlightenment and, and then how do you make sure that they're all aware of your solution? Um, when that comes to be, is that a strategy and a plan that you are thinking about now? Or is it really just, uh, yeah, I wish Roxie, but not, no, because we're actually just trying to turn on the dime to meet our customer's most immediate needs right now.
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Speaker 2: No, no. So I think, you know, being an entrepreneur, you always want to be one step ahead. And you know, our rationale is thinking, um, in, you know, this kind of goes hand in hand with really the focus of our product as well has been the communicate with video.
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Speaker 1: You practice, you preach.
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Speaker 2: So, you know, we're sending out video communication to our, to our, you know, we're, we're sending out video communication leads that we've been talking to, uh, letting them know what we've been doing. You know, we even give them sample Covid 19 videos. You know what, they are right now for other organizations to give them ideas, you know, if they want to incorporate something like this into their current messaging, you know, and so we're trying to help the current situation, but also, you know, look a couple steps ahead and position our product, you know, so that when the time is right and right now may not be the right time for anybody, but at some point it's going to be, you know, yeah. I want them to give us a good luck.
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Speaker 1: Yup. Yup. Um, so, so what are some of the challenges that you're facing right now as an, as a, you know, digital health innovator?
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Speaker 2: Yeah, so I think it's, it's the basic business challenges of a newer company. You know, making sure that, you know, your, your leads are, you know, adequate leads that your messaging, you know, is properly positioned. Uh, you have a good funnel of new opportunities and you're closing deals. And, you know, once all of that happens, you know, everything else, you know, it just kind of comes together. And if you already have a, you know, a solid commercial solution, you know, that that's been proven. Uh, you know, now it's time to focus on the sales and marketing piece. And, you know, what I've seen historically, even, you know, with some of my previous ventures, you know, if you can't get the sales and marketing piece together, you know, it's really a struggle and you need to get somebody in your organization who is really good at that.
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Speaker 1: Yeah. Yeah. You know, and I think that that's, I mean, it seems like that's really obvious, right? Um, but it's a missed opportunity. So often, I mean, I talk to innovators all the time that they're so passionate about solving the problem that they, um, have come across, right. And they've probably dedicated their life to addressing, poured all of their resources into. Very often they have the tendency to pour all of that money into the solution. And, right. So like, you know, we spent $5 million on the platform and now we've got, you know, $10,000 to go to market. Like, Whoa, what happened?
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Speaker 2: Yeah. I mean, it's a very challenging balance. Uh, no mistake about it because you know, as soon as you know, you develop something, you, and you have a competitor out there, you know, who went up to you and you're like, well, I guess we have to do something similar or we have to one up them with that specific feature. But you know, having, you know, some early adopter clients, you know, is critical to your success. You know, having, and I'm not saying they, you know, you're, you're going to ride those clients into the sunset. No, your, these are your early adopter clients and you know, they give you some revenue coming in so that you can pay for some of your development costs. You can pay for, you know, maybe you went to go to a conference or, you know, invest some money toward, towards marketing. Uh, maybe not the way you want to, but you know, when you're a startup, when you're a newer company, you know, you have to make every dollar count. So you have to spend it wisely and you know, you have to stretch everything. Yeah.
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Speaker 1: Well and so that, you know, brings up another question that I think, um, you know, entrepreneurs are facing right now. Do I spend money or do I save it? Do, do you know, like how do I know whether I'm going to lose business or I'm not, you know, not keep the clients I currently have or, um, you know, this pipeline that I had in place that was really healthy, but, you know, so all of my projections are not coming to fruition. Right. Cause Covance, you know, kind of, you know, changing that. Um, so do I invest money and continuing to try to grow and like fill the pipeline with new opportunities or close new business, um, or do I just save those reserves to make sure I could go through the to the light of this tunnel?
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Speaker 2: Sure. And I, I think it depends on, you know, what your business is, right? So if I have a hand sanitizer company, you know, I'm going to be marketing right now.
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Speaker 1: Oh, all in
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Speaker 2: I have, I have a ventilator company, you know, you know, we're cashing in right now. Uh, but practically speaking, you know, you have to look at what the, the current appetite is you have for the product that you have in your selling right now. You know, I think we have a fantastic solution, but it is incredibly difficult to get the right people on the phone to talk about it. And, and I don't know how long that's gonna last. I think it's, you know, if I had to say it's probably gonna drop off in a, in a couple of weeks, but you know, at that point, you know, that's, that that's our green light to go again, this, this is may have a longer runway, you know, and it may have to wait this out a couple months before, you know, the, you know, their, their prospects come back to the table and want to have those discussions.
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Speaker 1: Yeah. Yeah. I, you know, I think that's so true where every business is going to be in a different situation, right. Um, for like the market will be different, um, as well as their like current business situation will be different and what they can and can't do. I was talking to a client last week and they were sharing with me, you know, they're there probably a couple of years and, and, and just, it's, it's a med device company and they're, um, you know, they just invested probably a good 20, $30,000 in some major trade shows and the last month. And some of them were even like pitch competitions and you know, and everything just went and, and so, you know, she's not, he's not getting that money back. Um, you know what now?
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Speaker 2: so, so you're an I'm, I'm part of that, that group. So we're supposed to actually meet at the head's conference, but I'm thankful that it was canceled metal. But, uh, looking back, you know, that was, you know, money that we had invested in hotels and flights and, you know, the, you know, the, the vendor fees to attend that kind of, yeah. That, that's money that you don't get back, you know. But if I were an entrepreneurial, let's say in another vertical right now, you know, like, look at what we're doing, we're doing video. Invest your money in creating a great video. You know, that you can send to people and say, Hey, I know that you're busy, that you have a lot on your plate, but when you get like maybe four or five minutes, you know what, take a look at this. And if it's something that you're interested in, you know what, I'll give you a call. And it doesn't need to be, you know, tomorrow, it doesn't need to be next week. It could be a month from now, you know, but you know, when you have things under control, let's talk and at least you would know about you are one of pitching versus you would come in in two months later and having to start that entire cycle all over again.
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Speaker 1: Yeah. Yeah. And you know, I think you also touch on something else. I think the messaging is really important now, um, in how something is being framed. So I think that there's a way to frame something that seems like it is interrupting the, you know, the target audience from the fires or the chaos that they are experiencing. And there's a way to, if it does, you know, obviously it has to truly meet a meet need, but there's also a way to frame that from a messaging standpoint of I know you're experiencing this right now and you really want this to happen and here's something to help you. Right. As opposed to, I'm going through a crisis right now, call me back in a couple of months. Yeah.
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Speaker 2: Yeah. So it's, it's always important, uh, you know, to, to respect, you know, it, uh, the, the clients and the prospects, you know, especially now bettering the view. We're in the middle of the pandemic, so respect their time, respect, you know, the, the stress and the pressure that everyone's going through. But keep tabs once in a while, you know, and, and let them know that you're thinking about them. And I think that that's fair right there. That is fair. Um, but you know, to give somebody a full blow marketing pitch or the corner someone to do a demo, uh, I just think that that's an impractical expectation.
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Speaker 1: Yup. Yeah. And I think that that's worth mentioning too, you know, for all of our listeners, um, in many instances right now is not the time to try to sell your solution. Like you said, if it's hand sanitizer, sell it. If it had been a later sell it, if not, you know, use a video just to say, Hey, I'm thinking about you. Right? It's just that building rapport, you know, you might not for the next couple of months, you might not talk about your solution at all. It's just like from one human to another. I'm cultivating that relationship. I'm empathizing, you know, I'm just connecting at the, at the heart and mind. And, and I think that if, if people, if, if we continue to do that when the dust settles, and this, I think is what you're alluding to, right? Is that when the dust settles, who do they think of now?
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Speaker 2: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, let's, you know, w we have Covid 19 and you know, that is, you had a major focus. I mean, we can't get away from it right now. You know, that it's just our reality. You wouldn't, you turn on the TV, you open up a newspaper, you go online, you go on social media.
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Speaker 1: I'm trying Brian, I'm trying to hide from it.
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Speaker 2: I mean, none of us can. And you know, it's just our current reality and you know, we all want to sell. We all want to, you know, provide innovation. We all want, you know, to, to do great things with our companies. Uh, but you know, right now is, you know, at that, that pause moment where we pause, uh, you know, now's a good time to regroup a little bit, make sure that your marketing messaging, you know, it is on point. Make sure that you know, your, your vendor relationships are where they should be. Uh, if you have you at something that you need to do with your product, like an upgrade or an enhancement, you do it now. Do it now. Focus on building a better solution so that, you know, when the Gates open again, you know, you are in the ideal position even to take advantage of that, that relationship that you have.
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Speaker 1: Yeah. Yeah. And, and I, and I think that's, that's just great wisdom, you know, as we start to wrap up here is, is that, you know, as entrepreneurs, we wear a thousand different hats, right? And, and so we have this list of all the things that we want to do when we have time to get to it. And so for some people, now's the time, now's the time to, you know, kind of create that product strategy for post coven, you know, or, um, finally get all the paperwork together for the taxes for when they, you know, all kinds of different things that we just really been meaning to get to. Um, you know, if, if we can and if it makes sense that that's definitely a good idea. So, Bryan, this has been such a great conversation. Um, as we wrap up knowing that, um, you know, you're, you're speaking to our listenership who is, you know, fellow entrepreneurs and innovators who are in the trenches right now trying to find their own way through covert 19 and what that means for their business. Is there any other advice or suggestions that you have for them?
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Speaker 2: Well, I mean, hang in there and you know, just because you know, we are all Dell now, it doesn't mean that that's, you know, a forever thing. Um, you know, there's some great incentives out there that even I'm looking into, uh, with, you know, the, the stimulus package that was just released. There's different programs. Um, you know, I have you at a, you know, a good feeling that, you know, when COBIT starts to die down and you know, everything starts to get back to normal. You know, our economy's going to skyrocket, and you just have to be ready. You have to jump back into the fire and get after it again. Yeah. But, but right now, you know, take advantage of this time and, you know, make sure that you have all your ducks in a row.
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Speaker 1: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much. So if any of our listeners want to get in touch with you, how do they do that?
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Speaker 2: So you can easily, you know, send me an email, uh, Bryan, be our way and, uh, highlight health. So that's H I, L I T E H E a L T H. dot com or you can go on our website, www.highlighthealth.com
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Speaker 1: awesome. Thank you so much.
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Great. Thank you for having me.