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You need to know your business better than anyone else
Today's entrepreneur is Rich Krueger, co-founder and CEO of Hospital IQ, a company that uses technology, including artificial intelligence, prescriptive actions, workflow automation, and streamlined communication, to help health systems to make better decisions around patient access, care delivery, and staff productivity.
Hospital IQ's customers includes Hospital for Special Surgery, Health First, MercyOne, and University Hospitals. Over the past year, the company's revenue more than doubled, its customer base grew by 50%, and utilization of the platform increased 14x, as the COVID pandemic made the company's software more of a necessity.
The company recently raised a $25 million Series C round of funding.
Krueger has held leadership positions in the software space for decades- solving tough business problems with technology, which he now brings to healthcare providers as the co-founder of Hospital IQ, where he uses technology to limit waste in the healthcare industry and help hospitals provide outstanding care to as many patients as possible.
He has a proven track record of developing and commercializing new technologies and has been directly involved in software products that continue to solve major industry problems and generate over $100 million per year in revenue. Before joining Hospital IQ, Krueger was the founder and CEO of DynamicOps, a cloud automation software company acquired by VMware in 2012. He also held executive roles at Incipient, Continuum Software, Conley Corporation, and Discreet Logic’s Stone+Wire Division.
I am a(n):
Founder and CEO
Achievements (products built, personal awards won):
EMC Best Product of the Year Award
Intel Capital’s Most Successful Venture Award (DynamicOps)
2020 Medtech Breakthrough - Health Administration Innovation Award
2021 Medtech Breakthrough - Health Administration Innovation Award
2020 Digital Health Awards
If you're an entrepreneur or corporate innovator, why?
I’ve always had a natural attraction to technology, dating back to my youth. Specifically, my affinity for technology centers around its ability to solve problems when deployed in the right ways, particularly within business and operational settings. Early in my career, I was fortunate to develop and market software used by the largest banks and Fortune 100 companies – some of the most demanding and sophisticated IT consumers in the world. As a vendor to these organizations, I delivered high-performance software designed to solve complex customer problems using practical, scalable solutions that leveraged new infrastructure models, like the cloud, long before it was considered a best practice. Due to this experience, I saw healthcare as an ideal place to apply the hard-fought lessons from previous industries to a market that had been historically underserved. My initial finding in talking with leading healthcare clinicians, consultants, and hospital leaders was how poorly many healthcare technology vendors served their customers. Their software is developed on systems that many industries effectively retired decades ago; they are closed systems, the user interfaces are outdated and visually nonintuitive, and hardware configurations are complex and expensive. Additionally, even with all of the successful commercial applications of cloud technology, most healthcare vendors are years behind in leveraging this lower-cost infrastructure resource. The consequence for the healthcare industry is that much of the technology used in hospitals today is hard to install, hard to use, cumbersome to adopt, expensive to maintain, and doesn’t leverage the ecosystem of modern IT and/or established best practices. This is what drove me to start Hospital IQ and is a mission that still drives me to this day.
My favorite startups:
There are a couple of startups I’ve been keeping on my radar that I admire and draw inspiration from as an entrepreneur. In the healthcare realm, Iterative Scopes is one that comes to mind. Iterative Scopes is a Cambridge, Mass.-based startup that spun out of MIT in 2017. They’re bringing a fresh approach to the practice of gastroenterology -- a field of medicine that hasn’t yet benefited from significant technological advances. They’ve developed an AI-driven toolkit that leverages computer vision and machine learning to assist gastroenterologists with detecting and classifying lesions, especially those that often aren’t seen by the human eye. I love this startup because their technology, much like Hospital IQ’s, is driven by a desire to make healthcare better for both patients and physicians, which is ultimately what will drive the healthcare system forward. Beyond healthcare, a second startup I admire is an Israeli-based company called Coreflow, which develops aeromechanical solutions for Flat Panel Display (FPD) and semiconductor equipment manufacturers. Though you’ve likely never heard of them, you can find their solutions on the factory floors of Samsung, Sony, and Philips, among others. Since my background is in engineering rather than healthcare, I tend to gravitate towards these types of industrially-minded startups, particularly those, like Coreflow, that fly under the radar.
Why did you start your company or why do you want to innovate inside your company?
I wanted to build an operations management platform that could scale to support the 6,000 hospitals across the US and leverage advanced technology, such as machine learning-based AI and lean methodologies, to truly improve and sustain operational effectiveness and ultimately improve the bottom line. I chose to enter the healthcare space because very few companies focused on solving problems on the operational side of healthcare instead of just the clinical side. This lack of focus on the operational side led to operational waste, which is terrible for outcomes and costs. Hospital IQ was a perfect opportunity to help health systems build better flexible and adaptable solutions that make their existing system more efficient, creating better patient outcomes and improving the bottom line.
What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?
The most frustrating thing about entrepreneurialism is that things never happen as fast as you want. In an entrepreneur's ideal world, they hope that people share the same priorities and sense of urgency you have, but this just isn’t the case nine times out of ten. At times, this can be a pretty lonely feeling, especially when you don’t surround yourself with the right people. There are also myriad factors that slow the innovation or business development process down, but these are factors you have no control over, which is frustrating. There’s also the time conundrum, where there just isn’t enough time in any given day to accomplish the long list of to-do’s, which can add to the frustration.
However, the rewards that accompany entrepreneurship far outweigh the frustrations. For me, one of the most rewarding feelings is when your innovation solves a customer’s problem. The joy this creates for the customer has kept me motivated even during the most challenging times. What’s even more rewarding is when you have colleagues at your company who can be there to share the moments of success. This ultimately creates a positive feedback loop that inspires individuals and allows the team to replicate these successes into the future.
What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs/innovators make?
The biggest mistake I’ve seen entrepreneurs make - including some of the greatest - is the misallocation of capital. After a round of venture capital funding, for example, one of the gravest mistakes an entrepreneur can make is spending that funding unwisely, which creates a negative feedback loop and larger issues across the entire company. Funding is tough to come by, and the firms that provide funding expect to see quantifiable progress in a short amount of time, so when entrepreneurs misspend precious capital, they’re putting themselves and their employees at risk of losing everything.
What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?
First, you need to know your business better than anyone else. This means rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty, so to speak, and understanding your product inside and out. Second, you need to put the highs and lows in perspective. Many entrepreneurs fall victim to riding the highs or counting themselves out during the lows. These moments are inevitable both in entrepreneurship and life in general - there will always be highs and lows. That’s just the nature of being a human being. When times are tough, you can certainly use these moments to spark your motivation to work harder, but you must not get too discouraged.
On the flip side of the coin, you also can’t get too excited about the highs. This doesn’t mean you can’t briefly celebrate these moments; you should. However, it’s best to maintain a sense of humility during these highs to weather the lows you’ll inevitably encounter. Finally, perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is the need to create and maintain a high-quality product that solves customers’ problems. This may seem like the most basic lesson, but if you’re able to do this, everything else tends to sort itself out.
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Joined Vator onRich Krueger is the CEO of Hospital IQ. He has held leadership positions in the software space for decades- solving tough business problems with technology, which he now brings to healthcare providers as the co-founder of Hospital IQ.