Lance and I started working together in 2013. It didn’t take long to discover that what we had in common — love of good writing, juvenile sense of humor, facility with swear words — vastly outweighed where we differed — political affiliation, upbringing, and taste in food. We quickly also discovered an ease of conversation, mostly driven by Lance’s ability to find the compelling in almost anyone and anything.

After about 18 months of working together (and navigating some professional tumult), we were driving back from a conference, and as the miles passed, conversation idly turned to speculation about the future. Lance mentioned he had an idea about starting a health care marketing agency. I immediately said, “yes!” which was presumptuous since he hadn’t asked a question. We talked a little about it. No specifics. Mostly aspiration. He probably thought the idea got abandoned in the parking lot when we got back to the office. But, my imagination was ignited.

What if we could bring together our individual strengths and achieve something else we shared: a goal to do health care communications differently. Effectively. Could we make that work? Could we actually earn a living? We shared a frustration with most operations with the communications role. Too often seen as a last mile function instead of a marathon partner, communications has been left to “make things pretty” or “do social media.” That wasn’t us. We wanted to bring our communications, policy, and marketing abilities and expertise to the table as a strategic partner whether to achieve a marketing objective, a sales goal, or a policy win.

A couple more years went by. We navigated a few more professional changes within our organization until the summer of 2019 when we decided to pull the trigger on the idea we had kicked around in the car in 2015. Groundswell Health was born.

Anyone who tells you starting and running your own business are easy is a pathological liar. It is hard, hard work, and it is relentless. We heard more times than I can count that it must be “so fun to be your own boss!” Um. Not so much, at least in the early days. We each had families who relied on our incomes. We each had career goals. We had achieved some significant professional status. And, sharing a booth at WeWork surrounded by dogs, kombucha, and start-up bros wasn’t exactly in line with those. But, we persevered. That perseverance was, in part, driven by our belief in the company and each other, but mostly it was driven by the trust that our first clients, Access TeleCare and Deaf Smith County Hospital District, placed in us. We couldn’t let them down, so we persevered.

Today, Groundswell Health has a broad and diverse client portfolio, fulfilling our promise to ourselves that we wouldn’t limit the company to just marketing or just advocacy. Instead, we do what we love: strategic communications, patient volume marketing, B2B marketing, and advocacy communications. And, our company has outgrown the WeWork booth. We’ve added staff and clients, and, to our immense delight, we’ve seen them succeed. One went public. One was recognized not once, not twice, but three times by the Texas Hospital Association for its leadership and work. Another transformed its operations from an old-school membership organization to an agile and highly effective advocacy enterprise. And, Groundswell Health got to be a part of all of it.

This month, our work was acknowledged with six Healthcare Ad awards, recognizing the value, creativity, and effectiveness of our work in marketing, advocacy, public relations, and design. Work on behalf of our clients from each of our three areas of focus – patient volume, B2B, and advocacy/strategic communications — was recognized. If I were giving a speech thanking the Academy for these awards, I’d dedicate them to the Lance and Stephanie of 2015 and 2019 who had the courage not only to dream big but to show up every day to do healthcare communications the way we know it can and should be done.

From a speculative whim to an award-winning, highly effective company with clients in multiple states, Groundswell Health has come into its own. Thanks for being part of our journey.

How we did it

Get insight on the recognitions and client work.

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