Network, network, network. Never miss the opportunity to meet someone and learn about them.”
Drew Madden is a Founding Partner at Evergreen Healthcare Partners. Evergreen is a healthcare consulting firm that partners with healthcare organizations across the country to solve complex problems related to operations, IT, and change management. As a healthcare IT entrepreneur, Drew has always been passionate about building strong company cultures, client relationships, and top-notch teams. For six years, “Madden” led Nordic Consulting Partners from a small startup company of 10 employees to a leading healthcare IT consulting firm of over 700 industry experts. Nordic is the world’s largest Epic consulting agency, and it has earned multiple awards. Its most notable achievements were two top-ranking KLAS awards for excellence in Epic consulting. They were given to the company in 2012 and in 2014. Drew has devoted over 15 years of his life to collaborating with industry experts on implementing and optimizing Electronic Health Records (EHRs) across the country. While he was leading Nordic Consulting Partners, “Drew Madden helped the company grow” from 3 to over 150 client partners and Nordic’s annual revenue went from a modest $1 million to $130 million under his leadership. Before his time at Nordic, Drew worked in business development and was an Epic consultant. Drew earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Iowa College of Engineering and began his career in healthcare IT at Cerner Corporation.
Where did the idea for Evergreen Healthcare Partners come from?
I have a degree in Industrial Engineering and started my professional career in healthcare at Cerner Corporation. Using technology to improve operational processes and healthcare workflows is something that I’ve been passionate for over 15 years. While I love technology, I’ve always had a knack and appreciation for the “soft skills” that are so important for successful change management and IT adoption. If you look at the biggest challenges in healthcare IT today, very few of them are related to true IT challenges. The untapped potential of healthcare innovation is centered around operational engagement, change management, and the combination of technical and people skills that are necessary to transform our industry. Evergreen Healthcare Partners addresses that challenge by combining some of the industry’s best people and experience. Our leadership team comes from a diverse background of healthcare IT companies (Epic, Cerner and the payor software sector) and rounds out that knowledge with experience working for some of the nation’s best consulting firms (Nordic, Vonlay, Huron and Bluetree). Our company provides resources with the technical and intrapersonal skills needed to enable our client partners to achieve success in their goals to transform healthcare. We empower our employees to be and do their best by focusing on their individual strengths and career goals and aligning those with the needs of our healthcare partners.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
It really depends on the day. The one constant is meeting with people. Some days are spent working with our team to tackle an internal project. Other days are spent traveling to meet with our client partners to understand their challenge and show our support as a true partner. And other days are spent meeting with and recruiting industry leaders to be a part of the exciting company we are creating.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I pride myself on being the dumbest person at our company. I’ve always believed that if I can consistently make that claim, then I’m doing my job as a “company leader.” Many of my best ideas come from collaboration with our team or client partners. It’s exhilarating to be a part of a part of a group that’s empowered to be creative and solve problems together.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I’m excited to see how healthcare continues to evolve over the next 10 years now that Electronic Health Record adoption has become more common. I graduated from college in 2002. In some ways that doesn’t seem that long ago, but back then, even though the internet and laptops had been around for over a decade, most people (including myself) didn’t have a cell phone, there was no such thing as a smartphone, Facebook was only available for college students, PayPal, eBay, Google were far from mainstream, and when you drove somewhere new, you printed off directions from MapQuest. If you extend those trends into healthcare IT, I think we’re in the very early stages of innovation and change in our industry. Lots of data is being collected, but harnessing that data to leverage positive change will be a common theme in the future. Understanding the inner workings of healthcare processes and EHRs will allow companies like Evergreen to remain on the forefront of innovation for years and decades to come.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One valuable habit I’ve learned is to listen well. As a “services company”, we’re not required to invent a new widget or create innovative software. We are, however, required to be great at meeting our customers’ needs and offering them resources and solutions that can help them succeed. I’ve found that if you listen well to your client partners, you’ll have an excellent opportunity to help them. And if you listen well to your current and prospective employees, you’ll be in a great position to empower them to perform at their best and enjoy what they’re doing.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Network, network, network. Never miss the opportunity to meet someone and learn about them.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day. I never eat it. I can work until noon on 2-3 cups of black coffee.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I can’t stress enough how important it is to refine your business’ value proposition and be able to articulate it clearly. I like to encourage people to perfect their value prop or sales pitch into 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, 5 minute and 10-minute versions. That might sound crazy but there have been plenty of times in my career when I’ve had a set amount of time and not a second more to present my company’s value prop. The ability to read your audience and deliver the message in a timely manner is vitally important.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I love spending extra time getting to know candidates during the interview process. While formal interview questions are a part of the process, I think to incorporate conversational and informal aspects to an interview process allow you to get to know a candidate in a different way and also help create strong connections that can be very important for employee satisfaction and retention.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
If you want to make a billion dollars, create an app or technology that allows people to get a new cell phone number and effortlessly notify their contacts and allow their contacts to update the information. I’ve often joked that it’s easier to move across the country and change your address than it is to change your cell phone number.
If you want to make another billion dollars, create a 21st-century replacement for swapping paper business cards.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
When I was in college, I signed up for a scuba diving class. I think the registration fee was $80 and by the end of the eight-week class, I was scuba certified. It has been a super fun activity and I recommend it to everyone. My wife got certified a few years later and we have a great time diving together. Experiencing the underwater world is something you have to see to believe, and adding a day of diving to your vacation is a really fun way to experience a new place.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’m a huge fan of “Strengthsfinder 2.0.” It encourages you to not dwell on your weaknesses but instead focus on your strengths and surround yourself with others who have complementary strengths.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.