On Wednesday, May 23, Austin Health 2.0 held our first meeting at the Lance Armstrong Foundation. We were joined by over 35 individuals from across the healthcare spectrum – entrepreneurs, doctors, nurses, informaticists and programmers. Over light refreshments, attendees networked and enjoyed a brief tour of the building before settling in for a presentation from Tim Gueramy, MD and Tracy Haas, DM, MPH. In addition to being married, Drs. Gueramy and Haas are also business partners and co-founders of one of Austin’s fast growing health IT startups – DocBookMD. Faced with a broken communication system that wasted physicians’ time, mismanaged patient cases and was all-around inefficient, they knew there had to be a better way.
“We didn’t plan on being entrepreneurs”
This presentation was not just another sales pitch. As practicing physicians, the pair did not have an expertise in marketing, or in business development, or in technology. How, then, did they get this ship off the ground?
After talking to some of the big tech companies out there and concluding that nobody was willing or able to help them address their challenge. Rather than focus exclusively on a technical solution, they set about to create a set of guiding principles: To improve Patient Care, to build Physician-centric technology, and to be community based.
“We decided to go all in”
After working on their company for nearly three years, the partners made the leap to quit practicing medicine and pursue DocBookMD full time. Dr Gueramy noted, “When you decide to put in everything you have and believe in your idea, it allows you to focus.” They noted how an all-in approach gained them credibility with customers and forced them to be creative in order to figure out a sustainable revenue stream.
“Work hard, do good, be creative”
Here are some other tips that came up during the presentation and the Q&A:
- Build strategic relationships – getting others on board helps to create a “moat” that protects the “castle.” For example, DocBookMD formed good relationships with medical societies, who helped advocate for the product.
- Become Thought Leaders – this includes talking about the philosophy behind the product, educating others about all aspects of the business, and giving back to the community through talks (such as the one they were giving this night!)
- Establish Guiding Principles – Both Dr. Gueramy and Dr. Haas were clear that times will be tough, financially and emotionally, when you’re at the helm of a budding company. They underscored the importance of establishing a set of simple principles to help you stick to your guns when the going gets tough. Theirs were Work Hard, Do Good, be creative.
We’d like to thank our speakers, Dr. Gueramy and Dr. Haas, as well as our attendees who fueled a nice discussion. Also, special thanks to the generosity of the Lance Armstrong Foundation in letting us borrow their cool office space for the event. Stay tuned for forthcoming events, let us know if you’d like to be involved downstream, and make sure to stay plugged in: