“Genuine innovation in healthcare takes a long time.” CEO Q&A – Alison Hardacre, HealthKit

By Business & Finance
28 November 2018
Alison Hardacre, HealthKit

In our next CEO Q&A, CEO Q&A –Alison Hardacre, HealthKit speaks about opening in EMEA HQ in Cork, managing healthcare systems in 50 countries and recruiting the best staff. 

Q. What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

As a company, HealthKit wants to make healthcare better for everyone. As Co-Founder and Co-CEO of HealthKit, my main focus is continuing to expand our global software platform and service around the world. We’ve recently set up our EMEA headquarters in Cork so a key priority for the next six months is growing our presence here in Ireland and our reach across the broader EMEA region.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

Our software is used in over 50 countries worldwide. Each of those countries has its own healthcare system and can be in a different timezone. As a result, we need to be highly adaptive and responsive in our technology and in our service, sales and operations.

Q. How do you keep your team/staff motivated?

We place a lot of emphasis on recruiting the right people for each role so that they can deliver amazing outcomes for patients and practitioners globally. Our focus is on recruiting team members with the ability to the complexity of the healthcare sector on a global scale and at pace. We place a strong emphasis on learning so that as we grow, people grow along with their careers. We also make sure that we support people and bring people together across our now global team!

Q. What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?

Healthcare is one of the last industries to be digitised and healthcare remains fragmented and disconnected, which affects patient outcomes.

Unlike banking, where customers take for granted inter-bank transfers, patient records cannot be transferred between practitioners. Clinical reports and records are still mailed or faxed. Unlike airlines, where reservations link to ticketing, loyalty and payments systems, up to 20% of prescriptions, referrals and tests must be redone as they are lost or not available at the point of care.

HealthKit overcomes this with software that spans the entire health market – generating direct benefits for each participant (patient, health practitioner, funding body etc.) at a price point that is accessible to every health practitioner and profession, and of course patient. We are connecting up healthcare in each country around the world, and the recent opening of our Cork EMEA office enables us to grow and expand more rapidly in Ireland and in the broader EMEA region.

Q. What new trends are emerging in your industry?

We are strong advocates of how emergent technology can positively impact healthcare and patient outcomes. While the healthcare sector has been, perhaps, somewhat slower than others to embrace disruptive tech, that is changing. For example, we are seeing a recognition of and appetite for centralisation and integration of data, and for the “joining up” of healthcare. For example, our software streamlines admin tasks, saving practitioners time, and centralises patient records, removing silos of information so patients can get the best care from their care team. Our platform therefore benefits both the practitioner and the patient.

Q. Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?

What is needed in healthcare are the “rails” that connect all of healthcare; this would make healthcare far more efficient and joined up and mean that patients could get better care, which is what everyone in this sector wants to achieve.

Q. As an employer are you finding any skills gaps in the market?

Now that we have teams in Ireland and Australia, we have more opportunity to recruit the best talent whether they’re in IT, customer service or strategy; we see real demand for roles in data analytics, as well as demand for people from any professional background who can deliver in a high growth / high scale environment.

Q. How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?

Genuine innovation in healthcare takes a long time because the sector is so complex and because patient safety is paramount. The collapse of funding markets made it very difficult for health technology companies to survive while they built out their products and services. As a result, when we began HealthKit back in 2012 we knew we needed to be exceptionally lean, be global from day one and grow at rapid scale. Six years on, we are growing between 1% and 5% a week, with almost 30,000 practitioners using our software in 50 different countries. We have done this without a sales team and with an exceptionally low cost of acquisition. This has meant that we’ve been able to put more resources into product development and service, and into building our global offices including in Cork, and so we’ve been able to achieve better outcomes for patients and practitioners globally.

Q. How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?

Having now travelled to Ireland three times since late 2017, I’ve been able to track the changing mood towards Brexit in Ireland as the Brexit deal begins to take shape. As a global product customised to each health system we have felt the effects of Brexit less than other companies so far, but as a company with an office in Cork we are monitoring the situation carefully like many Irish companies.

Q. How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

We are 100% focused on making healthcare better everywhere for everyone; it’s what drives the HealthKit team to achieve what we’ve achieved. As we’ve scaled and expanded, so have the goal posts, which makes our journey all the more fulfilling.

Q. What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

The best advice definitely comes from people who have done it before you, as their advice comes from a place of experience so you can learn what works and what doesn’t, even if it goes against the grain.

Q. What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

In September, we opened our EMEA base and first overseas office in Cork. This was the culmination of two years of planning so it is incredibly exciting and satisfying to see everyone’s hard work pay off.

Q. What’s next for your company?

Growth and more growth! We’re rapidly expanding our customer base here in Europe as well as in other parts of the globe and we’re looking at how we can continue our growth in non-English speaking markets, while also building out more and more services that help patients track and manage their healthcare better.

Q. What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2018?

As a company, we are currently growing between 1% and 5% each week and we expect this growth to continue, with an increased focus on the EMEA region. We will be creating ten new jobs in our EMEA office in Cork in the next nine months and this will further our capabilities in these markets.

Q. Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

By this time in 2019, we look forward to having improved healthcare for many more people around the world, and the opening of our Irish office is key to us achieving that goal, as we’ll have been able to provide real-time customer service to more customers around the world. We may even have established another office in another part of the world! I’m expecting to do another capital round, while also looking our team across the globe.

We are 100% focused on making healthcare better everywhere for everyone;