A year later: What to do in a public health crisis if you’re a health company

Molly Hegarty, founder and CEO of a digital health startup, shares her experiences of how COVID-19 has impacted her company, thus far, and includes some tips for how you too can respond safely without sacrificing success.

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

As we ring in 2021, I couldn’t help but reflect back to the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Seemingly overnight, everything changed. Our routines were turned upside down and lives seemed to be placed into a perpetual hold. 2020 should have been a year of traveling to visit customers, attending conferences, and networking. It ended up being a year of introspection, adaptation, and growth. The stakes were high and the future was completely unpredictable, although we all assumed that ‘normal’ life would return relatively quickly towards the end of 2020.

Here we are almost a year later, reflecting on my original post from March 13, 2020. We are still in the midst of uncertainty, but I’m proud to say that successfully running our companies in this new environment is possible. As an entrepreneur, I know that we have to remain flexible and adaptive. COVID has really pushed Junum to be more creative and flexible in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Here are some new tips that I learned this year that can help you manage your company during this period of uncertainty and change.

  1. Network digitally. Normally, I would attend conferences, trainings, and workshops to meet people and receive soft introductions from colleagues and forge new relationships. This year I focused on deepening existing relationships and being creative in how to build strong relationships virtually. This was a new experience for all of us. I overcame this challenge by using LinkedIn to reach out to other startup companies, investors, subject matter experts, and industry leaders. Existing networks like Springboard became even more valuable to me to stay connected in my industry. Junum joined the Jumpstart Foundry Fall 2020 cohort which opened up another great network of start up companies and industry leaders. Doing virtual pitches and connecting via zoom was new, however this level of personal engagement during a time of isolation and distancing has helped to spark new energy and excitement for myself and my team.
  2. Nurture your remote team. Junum has been a remote company since before the pandemic started. We chose to be remote in order to be able to engage the best talent regardless of location. We hired a significant number of new team members during the pandemic and all of our employees and contractors were brought on specifically for their skills and expertise. In order to find this core team, our Human Resources department used LinkedIn jobs postings to review profiles and find candidates to interview. We also used personal recommendations from trusted professionals and from our team. Some of our employees have always worked in one career area, while others have had career shifts into new industries. This has been a huge benefit as this allows many of our employees to perform multiple job tasks for the company. All of our employees already have experience working remotely and managing multiple projects so there was not a learning curve for transitioning to a remote work environment. In order to keep the team momentum, I hosted bi-weekly social hour zoom meetings to chat, laugh, and build personal relationships. It has been amazing to hear all of the unique hobbies and talents our employees have! Our HR department also sent small gifts to the employees at various times throughout the year. It really helped to build morale to let everyone know I was thinking about them and appreciated all they are doing for the brand.
  3. Embrace disruption. What I didn’t know a year ago is how far the pandemic would move the healthcare industry towards a digital future. As much as COVID has brought innumerable challenges for our healthcare providers, there are positives that will come as the healthcare industry adapts. According to PwC’s Health Research Institute and an article in HealthcareIT News, the pandemic has completely reshifted healthcare’s focus to finally embrace technology for clinicians. “Nearly all respondents to HRI’s survey — 94% of provider executives, 92% of life sciences executives and 91% of health plan executives — said improving the clinician experience is a priority for their organizations as they enter 2021,” the report read. “Digital technology, if made right, could be the antidote to countless pain points that physicians encounter every day, leading to more efficient and satisfied doctors, happier patients, and more patient referrals.” The way healthcare is delivered will be vastly improved over the next few years and I am proud that Junum will play a part in how technology improves how doctors treat their patients. Sometimes it takes a major disruption to embrace a long overdue change. We will all be stronger for having overcome the challenges and moving forward in the right direction.

Hopefully, these tips can help us to all weather the storm together.

Molly Hegarty, founder of Junum, is passionate about combining nutrition and technology to spark change in the healthcare field. Junum helps hospitals improve patient outcomes and maximize reimbursements with clinician-driven technology. She has an engineering degree from the University of Michigan and is a Registered Dietitian. She joined the Springboard family after participating in the Health Innovation Hub: Digital Health Track 2018 accelerator.




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