Every year, Nashville entrepreneur Brian Hoppes and his wife listen to a frantic 911 call from 2015. It was a cold day in January, and Brian’s wife had just given birth to their son in the backseat of their car. Terrified and in need of direction, Brian called for help. Everyone on the emergency response team, from the 911 dispatcher who calmed Brian down and helped him care for his wife and baby to the EMTs who rushed to the scene, showed Brian and his family just how human healthcare can be.
Now, Brian says, “I could not have been more pleased with the service from that healthcare perspective of the 911 dispatcher, the EMTs, the fire department that came to ensure that not only my wife was doing fine, but our son, who was sitting in her arms in the back of our car in January, was doing well.”
While the healthcare industry’s revenue is incredibly important to Nashville’s economy, people are at the heart of the equation. Most of us have a uniquely intimate relationship with healthcare -- we need healthcare when we’re at our most vulnerable, and the quality of the care we receive can profoundly shape, or even save, our lives.
Yet many Americans face obstacles when they need healthcare most. Issues like lack of accessible resources and language barriers can severely limit someone’s ability to get the care they need, or to fully benefit from the healthcare available to them.
According to healthcare entrepreneur Bill Tan, these gaps in accessible care are where innovative startups can help humanize the healthcare industry. Tan’s experience translating for his family in the hospital led him to found Canopy Innovations, which creates digital resources that empower healthcare providers and patients with limited English-proficiency to communicate effectively.
Healthcare entrepreneurs know that healthcare is about both quality service and innovative products that transform our approaches to treatment. Luke Benda of Healing Innovations told listeners about his experience creating the Rise&Walk, a physical therapy tool for patients with walking impairment.
Benda offers an important perspective on Nashville’s healthcare ecosystem -- not only is it populated by massive companies like HCA, it also includes startups that address problems in the healthcare industry that others overlook. Benda developed the Rise&Walk to help his friend Tim regain motor abilities after a debilitating car accident had left him paralyzed and his rehab regime had expired.
“After his days expired, he was left with almost no options to continue rehabbing,” Benda remembered. “So we started looking into different methods and different ways to try to help Tim continue rehabbing, and before you know it, we ended up developing a machine that we call the Rise&Walk, which helped him regain his motor abilities so he can now take some steps.” Now, Benda is bringing the Rise&Walk to market to help others like Tim.
How do new products like Rise&Walk connect with the people that need them? Whereas new tools and products used to be introduced to healthcare service providers one-on-one -- salespeople would pitch their products to doctors, and hospitals would buy the products that the doctors requested -- now they must appeal to providers at a larger scale.
This is where companies like Nashville’s Greenlight Medical come in. In a data-driven market, Greenlight Medical connects suppliers and hospitals, helping service providers make informed decisions on the products they purchase and suppliers effectively appeal to their market.
Dee Anna Smith, CEO of HCA’s Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute summed up the mentality that motivates successful healthcare companies: “I am super passionate about being mission-driven in healthcare. And I think the reason for that is that it really is all about the patient.” Throughout the healthcare ecosystem, from startups to established corporations, care for the patient must drive companies to innovate.
“If you have your priorities right in the healthcare space,” Smith says, “everything else seems to come together.”
To hear more about Nashville’s thriving healthcare industry, be sure to listen to the full episode above. And don’t forget to subscribe to Navigate wherever you get your podcasts.
Apply for Project Healthcare Portfolio
Project Healthcare Portfolio leverages the full support of the EC’s expertise and network to accelerate the success of select healthcare-focused entrepreneurs. The program provides year-long, on-demand support and premier quarterly programming for all enrolled entrepreneurs.
Program spots are limited, and applications are competitive. Participants do not need to be based in Nashville, but must be able to attend four in-person, intentionally curated events over the course of the year.