Back in 2018, I met Chris Klomp at the Burning Man for healthcare IT professionals — which as you probably know is corporately branded as the annual HIMSS Annual Conference and Expo — in the lobby of the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. It wasn’t my first glimpse into what he and his team was doing at Collective Medical, but it was my first view into Chris as a person and leader of his organization. I could see that his scope and mission was wider than a lot of the health care technology leaders I meet.

Chris had a focus on how to build his company from budding upstart to a nationally recognized business with real impact on hospitals and patients — but more importantly — to drive a connection between disparate pieces of a disconnected health care system in their communities.

Sounds simple.

Easy enough.

We should have systems in place that drive this inherently, right? True. One problem: The incentives aren’t in place to drive that connection.

That is … until the opioid epidemic. Suddenly, there was a demand to quickly sale a system into communities where a physician could be empowered with information on where a patient had seen another doctor, received prescriptions for other medications, and how frequently.

Still … it’s a heavy lift to move the kind of interconnection the way Chris and his Collective team was talking about. Hospitals are over-committed organizations already — even before COVID-19. Much of that over-commitment is demand driven into the technology divisions of hospitals where teams are inundated with re-wiring decades-old mis-matched systems while also juggling the conglomerate EMR corporations that can hold a hospital hostage (more on that another time). Between formal procurement processes and disconnected internal hospital buying groups struggling to get on the same page, lifting a new technology has to include multiple stakeholders all at once collaborating to purposefully move in unison toward mission fulfillment with these tools. Sometimes, it can feel like trying to get a two-man team to lock into the same set of skis and go on a cross-country trek across the snow.

So, when I saw Chris’s passion and commitment for building his team as well as the sacrifice he had made to walk away from a lucrative role at Bain & Co., I knew we had a special company in a place that was at the bottom of an upward trajectory.

So we circled back around to talk and see how his team was now looking at an industry under pressure and how the future response to pandemics might be flavored with the experience of Collective Medical.

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