The Download: Kim Labow, CEO, Medfusion

An accomplished leader with over 20 years of information technology and services experience, Kim has a strong foundation in business strategy, marketing and sales. Her history with Medfusion—a patient experience and communication platform—goes back to its early days, when she worked closely with its founder, Steve Malik, serving as the company’s Vice President of Marketing, Product Management and Inside Sales. Following senior executive positions at leading healthcare technology companies, including NaviNet and ZirMed, Labow rejoined the Medfusion team in 2015 as Vice President of Product Management and Vice President of Marketing. She then ascended to the CEO spot in 2016.

Outside the office, Kim serves on the board of multiple animal rescue organizations including AniMall Pet Adoption and Outreach Center in Cary, N.C., and Harvey’s House Rabbit Rescue and Sanctuary in Louisville, Ky. She has an MBA in Marketing Management, enjoys travel on her Harley Davidson, and is a devoted Patriots and Red Sox fan. [Editor’s Note: Congrats on the Pats’ Super Bowl win, it’s nice to see them finally catch a break.]

 

1. What is in your pockets?
I never leave the house without my lip balm and my phone. That’s pretty much it.

2. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?
In the last couple of years we have gotten into a new space of data interoperability inside of healthcare.  Healthcare technology has been a huge problem for decades and very recently we’ve seen an uptick in our contracts, relationships and partnerships on the data services interoperability side with new software startups in healthcare that are looking for access to our APIs so they can get access to the data on behalf of their consumers or their patients. We have also seen interest from outside of the traditional healthcare space—in life insurance, clinical trials and clinical research—opening up completely new markets and completely new customers in the last six months.

Since we were founded 20 years ago, Medfusion has focused on facilitating communication electronically between providers and patients. It doesn’t sound like a giant light bulb of an idea in 2019, but it was a giant light bulb of an idea in 1999 when the company was founded. For the last 20 years we’ve been facilitating communication between providers and their patients to the tune of 40,000 or so providers and 15 million or so patients. In that process we have aggregated, or been privileged to at least facilitate, the transition of that data for millions and millions of pieces of clinical data.

What we decided to do a few years ago was create a new direction and a new product based on that.  What if we could use all that knowledge to create a new business that solves one of the largest problems in healthcare technology, which is the lack of data interoperability?  All this data is kept in silos and has been in silos for decades, so we built a platform that enables patient-initiated, or consumer-initiated, aggregation of data and sharing of data so as a patient I can bring all of my health records together regardless of what system they are sitting in today, into one place. This gives me the ability as a patient or the consumer to share it with other providers, to share it with a clinical research organization, and to let me participate in care communities if I had a particular disease or a particular interest.

So that’s a completely new space and technology that we created for ourselves back in 2014-15, three years before Apple came out with Apple Health.  It has opened up for us a new set of customers, a new set of partners and a new set of channels, and it’s been pretty exciting to see the value that we can provide to patients and to consumers who have an interest in their health. We know how we can provide them a complete picture of their health and their care which is been very elusive over the past several decades.

3. What is your favorite coffee spot?
How about my favorite hot chocolate spot since I don’t drink coffee? I’m from Boston; I spent the first 39 years of my life in Dunkin’ Donuts country so I am a devout, die-hard Dunkin’ Donuts hot chocolate fan. I’ve learned to plan my mornings around where I can find a Dunkin’ Donuts. They are not as prevalent here as they are in New England, where there can be three on one street corner.

4. What keeps you up at night?
What keeps me up at night is being a small company in a very progressive and competitive technology region.  Being a small tech company in the Raleigh-Durham triangle area is a real challenge for us.  One of the most important things for us is our talent and being able to recruit and retain our talent is tough. It’s hard when there are so many amazing companies in this area.  On one hand you’re like, this is so great because we are surrounded by great universities with great students who are coming out of college and looking for their jobs, and people who have moved here to work at one of the companies that are in this area.

While that’s a great thing, it is also a challenge as an employer.  We’re continually working on our benefits packages and other things that we can do to provide that complete experience for our employees, but it’s been a challenge as we’ve been in a continual state of hiring for the last 12 months.  Some due to growth and some of it is churn.  Right now we have eight or nine positions open, which doesn’t sound like a lot to a big company, but to a company of 70 people that’s a lot, and it’s just a challenge to be competitive.

We are now taking a much better and more progressive and holistic approach to what we can offer employees.   We are a technology company and there is an expectation that we have our bar, collaboration zone, corn hole, ping pong and the board games and all that kind of atmospheric stuff that you have to have as a technology company. But we’ve also done a really good job more recently of adding the whole-person view of benefits with nutrition programs, yoga on site, health fairs and that kind of stuff.  Our great HR team has done a really nice job to go outside of the box.  We can’t do everything that a really large company with bottomless pockets can do, but there is still an awful lot that we can offer our employees to help their whole experience and the multiple facets of their life, not just their work-life.  We’ve done a pretty good job recently and I think it’s just going to get better.

5. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?
I would say Salem Street Pub in Apex.  When Apex was a smaller town, it felt like it was our little secret where the locals went.  Now seven to 10 years later, it’s no longer our little secret.  I’m happy for them and it is still the best slider place around that you could possibly ever find with the pretzel rolls and the awesome little burger sliders. And they make a great drink and there’s always good stuff playing at the bar.   We’ve gone there to watch everything from the curling competition in the Olympics to the National Spelling Bee. It’s the best place.

6. What is next for you or your organization?
This is our inflection point where we’re making a really strong play into the data-services base I talked about earlier.  We’re not changing focus out of the patient experience platform side but there’s a lot of new developments and growth expected for us to come from the data services side of the house. We are expanding on the different types of markets that we’re able to serve with the products and API tool that we’ve created for data interoperability.

The health insurance space is a big space for us to explore and we’ve already taken some steps into the health system space which as you know is where Apple quite frankly has targeted a lot of their efforts and where we believe we actually have a better model than they’re able to offer today.  It’s about a breadth in the market that we serve based on the new products we’ve created and the new technologies that we capitalized on.  This year’s theme is expansion and capitalization.   In the last 12 to 24 months we’ve done a lot of net new things, net new products, net new markets and now it’s time to take the foothold that we put into those spaces and into those products and make them deeper and broader and capitalize.  I’m going to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to get the maximum value out of those new initiatives.

About Brooks Malone 12 Articles
Brooks Malone is a NC CPA and Partner with Hughes Pittman & Gupton, LLP, and leads the Technology practice group. Brooks is also listed contributor to the National Fast Trac Tech Curriculum that was funded by the Kauffman Foundation. Brooks was named one of the 40 Under 40 in May 2005 by the TBJ, received the Outstanding service to Entrepreneurs Award in 2008 by CED, and named to the Leadership Raleigh Hall of Fame in October 2011. Brooks is a graduate of North Carolina State University and is active at American Underground and HQ Raleigh.