In our work with healthcare companies, we come across some pretty amazing marketing and sales professionals working in a rapidly changing industry. This month, our CEO Jerrit Tan, sat down with Kara Kerker to ask her about her work at Bright.md.
Bright.md is a healthcare automation company, focused on transforming the way care is delivered, starting with low-acuity conditions. Their solution, SmartExam, is a direct-to-patient, asynchronous telehealth solution for healthcare systems to add to their convenience care offers so that their patients can get affordable, immediate, private care from their trusted healthcare system when they need it, from wherever they are. The built-in automation in the SmartExam software means clinicians can confidently deliver care in less than two minutes.
Kara Kerker is the head of marketing at Bright.md, where she works closely with the head of sales to grow the company through partnerships with healthcare systems. Together with her team, Kara has responsibilities across lead generation, branding, and educating health systems on the value of Bright.md.
Below is our interview with Kara.
JT: How did you get to be in your position today?
KK: I began my career working at HP. Some would call it the “original start up” and the grandfather of Silicon Valley. The company was rapidly innovating, creating, and owning new categories. For a young professional who wanted to work in tech, it was a great place to land, learn the ropes, and grow. We were developing breakthrough technology that could solve real problems and the company valued great ideas and integrity. I benefited from excellent mentors and a remarkable team of people to learn from and work with.
That decade was formative in so many ways—relationships, work approach, leadership skills, commitment to learning—that are still at the core of who I am professionally. Without that foundational experience, the rest of my career would not have been possible.
JT: You came from outside of health tech. What has surprised you most in your current role?
KK: As someone who has experienced the healthcare system as a patient and benefitted from the advances that technology has brought to healthcare, it’s been surprising to see how technology that was supposed to make things better has had the opposite effect. Unfortunately, some technology has burdened our healthcare system and the providers who work so hard to deliver care. This has led to tech fatigue and weariness in a sector of the economy that desperately needs to harness every advantage that technology can deliver.
JT: Now that you’ve spent some time in healthcare, what do you think are important problems that need to be solved in our healthcare system?
KK: The time I have spent in health tech has further validated the initial reason that I was excited to join Bright.md — that access to high quality, affordable, convenient care is of prime importance. This mission is being stalled by the burden borne by our health providers. For example, I had no idea that some clinicians can spend twice as much time on paperwork as seeing patients, or that it can take 32 clicks in a software system to order a flu shot. Providers are burning out and leaving the healthcare system at alarming rates, which puts more strain on everyone’s access to care.
JT: What is the hardest part of your job?
KK: There are two interesting and unrelated challenges in my job. First, because healthcare is more than 17% of the US GDP and there are endless information channels for decision-makers in the space, choosing where to experiment and where to focus our marketing efforts can be daunting. There are never-ending options for marketers in healthcare. But, like in any other sector, choosing your strategy is a combination of art and science and we look for leading indicators (such as those from Hexi) to help us choose our ripest targets and use data to help guide our planning and decision making.
The second challenge is overcoming tech fatigue and indigestion in the sector. Healthcare leaders are, for good reasons, risk averse and cautious. Nearly a decade of experience with solutions that over-promised and under-delivered have left a lot of decision-makers skeptical. Finding the innovators and fresh thinkers is the most important way we can accelerate access to affordable, convenient care.
JT: What is one best practice that you use in your marketing/sales organization?
KK: Alignment. The organization needs to move in harmony and be agile so that we can immediately incorporate insights and learnings into our plans. Even with a small team, we are geographically dispersed, but our religious use of tools like Slack and Asana help us all stay in sync.
JT: What do you think successful healthcare sales & marketing organizations will look like 10 years from now? What will they do differently than the organizations of today?
KK: The healthcare sector will not look the same in 10 years. We are in the early days of the digital disruption and transformation of the structure of our healthcare sector. The go-to-market side of any company selling into healthcare will morph as needed. That said, like any world-class B2B marketing and sales organization, they will need to have a sophisticated technology backbone and depend on it to collect data, generate insights, and help to deliver results through informed decision making. And, of course, without automation, there is little ability to scale for consistent, excellent execution.
JT: What is your wish list for things that would make your job easier or make you more successful in your role?
KK: First of all, it’s not really about me; it’s about what will make our team able to do more with less, and always do it better. As a marketer, you are always thinking about your “great” clients—and how to find more of them with the fewest resources. Any set of tools that can help deliver those insights to us and help us build a bigger and more productive funnel… well, sign me up!