First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Russ Graney: We are all doing our part in staying safe during these unprecedented times. Everyone is staying healthy, strong, and socially distant, which is important right now.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Aidin
Russ Graney: I began my career at Bain & Company in New York, working with Fortune 50 companies in tech, finance, and consumer products. My first venture in 2009, a charter elementary school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, today serves over 600 students every year.
The story starts in 2011, observing that one of the places where healthcare is “broken” is in the prolific and antiquated systems used by hospitals and other providers to refer patients to one another. Unlike highly standardized clinical routines, no single structure or practice is standard for referring and authorizing patients. As you well know, almost every healthcare entity relies on multitudes of case management and admin staff to exchange even greater multitudes of phone calls and faxes all day, every day, with payors, providers, patients, and more to get this important work done.
Most importantly, these administrative tasks have clinical consequences. The lack of a single, timed, and transparent tool for coordination of care also compromises the quality of patient outcomes and almost guarantees patients do not get sent to the best provider for their needs.
I also observed that the popular response to broken places in the healthcare system was as fractured as the problem itself. Companies offering solutions for hospitals and other providers isolate tiny patient populations or specific workflows from a massive problem pipeline and customize technology to address them individually. To make a tangible impact, I realized it would require a different approach, a real transformation.
As an investor, I led the sale of my private equity firm’s largest investment, a case management services company. I left PE to build Aidin when my uncle was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. That is when the Aidin journey began, and this year we celebrate our ten-year milestone.
I am originally from Fairfax, VA, and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, and I currently live in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.
How does Aidin innovate?
Russ Graney: We innovate by staying close to the action – digging through healthcare complexity to find the common themes and build solutions that help people do the right thing. We build effective technology solutions that help build a thriving healthcare community that would work for everyone. Our vision is to defrag the healthcare ecosystem with a platform that connects providers, patients, and payers to produce better outcomes. Our referral marketplace technology harnesses supply and demand to enable patients to see all available community providers. It unleashes the invisible hand to effortlessly discharge patients to the highest quality provider available.
We like to describe Aidin as the “internet of healthcare,” comparing our revolutionary impact on healthcare to Google’s impact on the marketplace at large. Google became the top search engine because its algorithms ensure that the best content returns at the top. By rewarding good content, Google incentivized people to create good websites. Similarly, by rewarding quality care providers with opportunities for bids, Aidin incentivizes excellence in providers. Providers need not scratch their way to a place on the case manager’s list. With Aidin, if they are good, they will be found. Aidin, like Google, helps providers do business with the outside world. By empowering patients, providers, and payors, streamlining workflows, and optimizing outcomes, Aidin is the rising tide that lifts all boats.
The technology solutions we develop are currently being used by providers such as UCLA Health, The Ohio State University – Wexner Medical Center, Vanderbilt, Lancaster General Health Penn Medicine, Houston Methodist, CHI-St. Luke’s and Virginia Hospital Center in Virginia, to name a few.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Russ Graney: Our team worked overtime to support the deluge of activity we saw in referrals as health systems across the country – first in LA and NY, then Ohio and Houston and beyond – experienced a COVID surge. In the first week of the pandemic reaching the US, our referral volume rose 30% and our stayed there for 2 months as our patients cleared out of hospital beds to make room for the coming disaster. Meanwhile, our engineering team deployed in days an epidemic feature set to find and book providers who could and were accepting COVID positive patients.
Meanwhile, most of the team and I were holed up in our apartments in NYC for 6 weeks straight during the worst of it. No street traffic, no pedestrians – the city was so quiet. The only thing that broke the silence was the blare of ambulances rushing by my apartment to Brooklyn Hospital.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Russ Graney: Our team is lean and nimble, which helps us be prepared in moments of change. In fact, we’re usually agents of change ourselves – constantly tearing down the old way we did things for something simpler and smarter – so we were able to adapt and get to serving our clients quickly. The biggest lesson we learned was how remarkable our clients are and how valuable their trust in us is. Hosting calls with clients from across the country, some in the throes of COVID surges, others awaiting them, we got front row seats to brilliant healthcare leaders solving complex workflow problems together, at a national scale on one phone call.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Aidin in the future?
Russ Graney: Globally, there is a lot to consider and feel these days. We have a lot of hard work to do as humans. But personally, I do my best to keep my spirit full, so I have some sunshine leftover to share. I think there is a lot to be learned from operating, as a business, and as a human, in the reliably safe zone. Everyone at Aidin is here because we’re seeking to contribute to our lives. Holding that ambition requires us to take a long and steady view and take good care of ourselves and the partners we work with.
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