Today, I caught up with Austin Dirks, CEO and Founder of GreenLight Medical to chat about the company and the hospital procurement landscape. Prior to founding GreenLight, Austin worked in medical device sales and engineering within St. Jude Medical as well as the Merger & Acquisition team at Thoratec Corporation. Austin is a biomedical engineering graduate of Vanderbilt University, and received an MBA from Harvard Business School.


Can you tell me about your background? Where did the idea for GreenLight originate?
 
 AD: I started as a medical device sales rep selling cardiac technology with St. Jude Medical. My original sale was formerly led by a doctor who preferenced our latest technology offering. From there, the technology was “purchased.” That all shifted over the past few years with hospital consolidation, and I found myself selling to the hospital, as opposed to the physician. The doctor was just one part of a larger decision being made with hospitals using a new, formal evaluation process known as value analysis.
 
Did this make for a challenging environment to work in?
 
 AD: Absolutely. As a sales rep I did not know about the formation of value analysis committees. All I knew was that in order to make a sale I had more people that I needed to talk to, and my sales cycle had shifted toward an unknown amount of time. I could see that there was a bottleneck. It was difficult to get all the right people in the same room and equipped with the necessary information regarding our new technology offerings. There was a lack of coordination, multiple layers of communication, and duplication of effort. There were inefficiencies in this process and I knew there could be a better way to guide hospital purchasing.
 
Where did you go from here?
 
 AD: I took a break from industry and went to business school for two years to pursue an MBA. During this time, I continued to see hospital procurement as an interesting environment that was void of much-needed technology enhancements. I reached out to my network, calling on medical supplier and hospital provider contacts. Based on these conversations, I felt certain that there could be a better path for introducing medical technology into hospitals. In short, that’s where GreenLight came along, from my hospital experience as a medical sales rep, and witnessing the macro shift in hospital procurement. 
 
What do you define as the most pressing problem in hospital procurement?
 
 AD: I don’t think there is just a single problem. If that were the case, it would have already been fixed. The hospital procurement space is complex and driven through multiple departments with manual processes all compounding together to hinder hospital purchasing teams. Further complicating this issue are misaligned incentives, with physicians focused on clinical benefit while others look for the lowest costs achievable, with the two often at odds. I think that’s why GreenLight’s offering is so valuable, with our ability to align all stakeholders to make value-driven decisions as a team.
 
Ok, give me the short pitch for GreenLight.
 
 AD: Glad you said “short,” or else I could go on all day. At its core, GreenLight Medical is a cloud-based software company developed for hospital procurement of new medical technology. We provide the workflow, project management, product research, decision-support, and data analytics for hospital procurement teams to guide their value analysis of new medical technology. Furthermore, we offer benefits to medical device companies and their sales reps, helping companies curate the right information to the right people within the hospital, throughout the entirety of the sales cycle.
 
Do you have a favorite story about GreenLight Medical?
 
 AD: One story I enjoy is from a visit to one of our hospital partners during implementation. The hospital admin brought me to an inventory closet in the OR, opened it, and pointed to a massive surplus of unused inventory. She said, “Austin, do you know what this is? This is $2M in unused inventory that will expire at the end of this year because our vendors, physicians, and members of this hospital team are not on the same page. Your software helps us fix this and ensures we make responsible decisions on new technology.” This was a really powerful moment to witness firsthand the impact that GreenLight can have for our hospital partners.
 
What’s in the works for GreenLight?
 
 AD: Good question. Without giving away too much, we have a lot of new enhancements in store for GreenLight. If people want to learn more they can always reach out!
 
What kind of hospitals find the most success using GreenLight?
 
 AD: Our sweet spot is not necessarily number of beds or number of hospital facilities, but it’s a forward-looking hospital IDN that is looking to simplify the complications of their hospital procurement; a system that aims to connect by all key stakeholders and all key information in one managed portal.
 
How do you help physicians better engage with supply chain?
 
 AD: I’m proud to say that 90% of physicians in a facility actively engage with our product, and of those 90%, most do it within 24 hours, from time of notification to time of interaction. We make it so physicians can get a holistic view of the product, instead of just a one-liner on the clinical benefits, promoting awareness and inclusion to all information under review all parts of value analysis.
 
Are there any numbers you’re particularly proud of?
 
 AD: For facilities using GreenLight, we’re proud to showcase an average procurement length of 35 days from start to finish and an average of $1.26M in negotiated savings per facility.
 
Any advice for entrepreneurs looking to better the industry they currently work in?
 
 AD: Pay attention to where people are complaining and where market forces are shifting, because that is an idea waiting to be built.


Austin can be reached at austin@greenlightmedical.com if you are interested in connecting! Learn more about GreenLight Medical here.