MP recently sat down with Patrick Frank (Forbes 30 Under 30), co-founder of PatientPartner. Frank’s background is in consumer technology, focusing on integrating dual-sided platforms for the legacy industries in which he’s worked. His focus has been on improving consumer decision-making by leveraging technology to provide access to information and resources that we have never had before. At PatientPartner, he manages team operations and ensures that the business runs as effectively as possible.
What is PatientPartner, and why is it unique?
PatientPartner is unique because of its ability to create simplicity in the complex world of healthcare. The platform is rooted in altruism from our patient mentors who volunteer to share their healthcare journey with other patients who are just starting out on their own. We are different from any other platform because of our patented technology, an Ai and machine learning algorithm that pairs patients based on reliability so patients can connect with someone very similar to themselves and ask questions and get information that they cannot find anywhere else.
Why did you start PatientPartner?
My co-founder and I started PatientPartner because of the massive gap in the healthcare industry of patients not having reliable information and being left on their own to navigate the complex world of healthcare. My mother, at the time, was one of these individuals going through two separate procedures, and seeing the pain she was going through and feeling powerless in trying to help her, my co-founder and I set off on the journey to create a platform that could do it all: empower patients and simplify the journey.
What obstacles have you faced while becoming a trusted and recognized player in the healthcare industry?
Healthcare is very challenging for several reasons:
The industry moves slower than any other due to the number of regulations and privacy issues that engulf it.
The industry historically has never needed innovation from a consumer technology standpoint.
The industry has operated the same way for decades. It is resistant to change and skeptical of technology that could potentially disrupt the standardized processes that they have become so accustomed to.
If you do not have a license or a degree in healthcare or as a provider from a top-tier institution, it is difficult not to be viewed as an outsider to the industry professionals.
Interestingly, companies that have historically worked with healthcare professionals are looking for innovation while the actual industry insiders are meeting it with resistance.
What’s your typical day look like, and how do you manage your work-life balance?
Work-life integration. What we are doing is a massive undertaking. Essentially, we are trying to integrate a new step in the healthcare journey for all patients. That is to normalize patient-to-patient interactions before patient-to-provider interactions. With that, we must bring work into everything that we do. From studying other consumer interactions and looking for ways in which other industries that we interact with every day have innovated, we are always looking to bring those types of ideas to PatientPartner and to healthcare.
At the stage of the company that we are at, we have to be all-in. Therefore, work-life balance comes in the form of ensuring that those who surround us are there for us and able to support us in the mission to change the healthcare journey for all patients.
What are three obstacles you’ve faced while growing PatientPartner, and how have you overcome them?
When we originally fundraised, we set out for $2M and could only secure $250k. Though challenging, it put us in our favorite position, which was against the wall to prove the odds wrong. With that, we were able to secure over $500k in revenue and close the entire round afterward, which jumpstarted our trajectory even further.
Understanding different fields of healthcare are something that individuals spend their entire lives doing. We must do it in a matter of weeks. We have since tapped industry professionals, licensed physicians, and specialists to help us understand these fields to provide what is needed most for physicians and patients.
Balancing growth with quality. Because we are dealing with such important decisions, we have to ensure that what we are building is extremely high quality and provides tremendous value while simultaneously growing very fast. This is solved by leveraging outside resources and bringing on a team that is as passionate about what we are building as we are to get things done quickly and the right way.
Do you believe there’s some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful leader?
Of course. Leadership is simply the ability to make important decisions the right way, learn from the wrong choices you have made, and continue to inspire those around you every day. But, above all else, you must be able to do all of these consistently without wavering in your mission and showing dedication to your cause and to those around you.
What are three pieces of advice you can share with people looking to become influential leaders in their businesses, and why?
Have grit. Be able to stand alone in your ideas and stay passionate about them even when others do not believe in them. Passion is contagious, and people are bound to follow it.
Work smart, work hard. I thoroughly believe that the idea that you shouldn’t work countless hours is an excuse for those who don’t want to do it. What people don’t talk about is that the hours only matter if you can use them effectively. Therefore, you must be mindful of how you use your time and ensure that each action moves your mission forward.
Act. People get stuck in ideation paralysis. They think, think, think, and never act until the opportunity has passed. Good things happen to those who act and are willing to put themselves out there to risk if they are right. A quote I say religiously is, “A lot of people are a lot of talks, and few are there for the moment.” Be able to make decisions and act on them fast, and learn from them.
What questions should would-be entrepreneurs ask themselves before starting a new venture, and why?
Can I see myself doing this for the rest of my life? Am I starting this with the right people?
Both of these are the same. Starting a business is like a marriage. It is a commitment for life, and the people you start it with will spend more time with than anyone else. It has stronger ups and downs than any other commitment and can affect your emotions, finances, and life trajectory greater than any other decision you make. So, make sure you are ready for the commitment and are doing it with the right people.
What is the level of dedication I am willing to give this venture, and how important is this to me?
If this company is not the most important thing to you, don’t waste your time. You must become obsessed with what you are doing, or else someone will do it better. That level of commitment and passion can outweigh any difficulties and challenges that you will encounter as a result.
What am I willing to give up to make this venture a reality?
In starting a business, you must be ready to risk it all. You must be ready to give up what you have for what you will become. The bigger the risks generally, the bigger the results, and mentally preparing to make those will prepare you when the time comes to face them. As great as it is to dream about the great future that you can create if everything works, know that there is always a downside, and you must understand and be ready for it.
How do you market PatientPartner, which tactics have been most successful, and why do you think this is the case?
I think every platform, no matter how much they don’t want to, must participate in the world of digital marketing and advertising. Unfortunately, we are also guilty of that. However, we have focused on creating network effects within the industry to organically grow our presence both with industry insiders and with patients. If we can build trust and integrate ourselves into the healthcare journey as it exists today, it will become much easier to create a better one for the future.