Q&A with Owen Tripp, Co-Founder and CEO, Grand Rounds Health

Following Grand Rounds Health recent announcement of a Series B with Greylock Partners, Oxeon Associate Kate Herr sat down with Owen Tripp, Co-Founder and CEO at Grand Rounds.  The two delved into the driving mission behind Grand Rounds, the thought and work that goes into building a successful business, and some of the key milestones Grand Rounds has accomplished.  You can find the complete interview on our website where Owen discusses future goals for the company. [dropcap]Q:[/dropcap] Where did the idea behind Grand Rounds come from and how did that idea come to fruition?

My co-founder is Dr. Rusty Hofmann, the Chief of Interventional Radiology at Stanford.  Several years ago, his son Grady was diagnosed with a rare immunological condition.  Because of Rusty’s unique connection to specialists practicing at the leading edge of medicine, he was able to bring together the ideal set of experts from across the country, and get Grady the life-saving care he needed.  Reflecting on this experience, Rusty was all too aware how different the outcome would have been for the average parent, so we committed to build Grand Rounds to democratize access to the best medical experts and ensure that everyone could benefit from the quality of care that had saved Grady’s life.

The more we learned about the huge variation in quality of care in the US, the more confident we became in the massive impact that Grand Rounds can have.  Countless studies have documented the billions of dollars wasted on inappropriate or ineffective care, and the human cost is equally staggering.  The problem is concentrated in the small portion of the population that needs the most intense care – the 6% of patients that drive over 60% of cost.  We know that our experts deliver meaningfully superior care to that population, with lower mortality, faster adoption of improved techniques, and greater avoidance of unnecessary procedures.

Once we started showing our customers what we could deliver, we realized that this was something that they needed and wanted—and that no one was doing it right yet. We started with our Expert Opinion service, which provides access to a “virtual clinic” where patients can work with a top medical expert from anywhere in the country. Then we leveraged our expertise and data and expanded into Office Visits (to find a top specialist in the patient’s geography and within their insurance network) and STAT (expert help while the patient is in the hospital).

[dropcap]Q:[/dropcap] As a second time founder, what are the differences you see in building Grand Rounds compared to Reputation.com? Similarities?

Reputation.com was a fantastic experience, but Grand Rounds is a special mission and is definitely the endeavor I am most proud of.  As an entrepreneur, I want to solve the biggest problems in the world—the ones that really matter. Grand Rounds is about fixing something really broken in the healthcare system: people’s inability to find and access the best medical care when they need it most. I’ve been more energized and received more satisfaction in figuring out how to knock down the enormous walls that separate people from quality health care than anything else I’ve done.

It has also been hugely rewarding to build a team of people that are as deeply passionate about solving this problem as I am.  Our sense of mission pervades the organization, and drives everyone to do their absolute best to make us a success.

[dropcap]Q:[/dropcap] In your opinion, what is the most critical factor in building a successful business? And how have you incorporated that into building Grand Rounds?

When you’re doing something this important, it’s critical to surround yourself with a core team who understands and believes in your mission. And equally as important, you need to maintain a relentless focus on hiring the best people.  I commit to our team that I will give them peers and leaders that they will learn from and feel privileged to work with, and I expect them to maintain that rigor throughout the organization.  I look around the table at my executive team and am continually impressed by how much they teach me and the company.

[dropcap]Q:[/dropcap] You recently announced that you raised $40M in series B funding from Greylock Partners (congratulations!), in addition to partnering with Venrock; can you go into a bit of detail on how the deal came together? What does this funding mean for Grand Rounds?

The funding is great news, but our sights are really set on the growth of covered lives. In tandem with the funding, we’ve passed the milestone of 1 million covered lives.  Our sights are now set on quickly accelerating to 5 million covered lives, as well as developing additional products and channels that will deliver high quality medical outcomes for patients all over the country. Getting our solution to as many patients as possible really drives what we’re doing.

[dropcap]Q:[/dropcap] What is one of your favorite success stories so far in terms of human impact? Pick one.

I’ve heard so many incredible patient stories come through Grand Rounds that it’s hard to pick just one. We recently had a 22 year old college student successfully treat multiple brain tumors with one of the most amazing surgeons in the country and he’s already walking around and on with his normal life—that type of situation could have gone a million different ways. Or how about the multiple patients who we’ve helped avoid amputations by connecting them with leading experts who knew how to perform leg-saving surgeries when no one else could? What we try to produce is a warm positive, empathetic experience while our patients are in the healthcare cycle, and then produce the best possible outcome for them.

[dropcap]Q:[/dropcap] What is one of your favorite success stories so far in terms of company growth and numbers?

I would have to say that reaching our milestone of 1 million covered lives. This is a huge population of people who need a service like Grand Rounds and deserve this level of care—and we are going to give it to them. Next step is hitting the 5 million covered lives mark, and we’ll get there fast.

[dropcap]Q:[/dropcap] What are your aspirations for Grand Rounds? What do you hope to accomplish in the next 3-5 years?  

We want everyone who can benefit from Grand Rounds to be using our product. Right now, the employer channel is the best way for us to approach that goal, and we will continue to build our presence there.  As we grow we are also expanding our connections with insurers and other market participants to ensure that all patients can benefit from the life-saving access and information we provide, not just those with a family member working at one of our employer partners.  We are also working with physicians and institutions to support their efforts to collaborate with their colleagues, making them more efficient and raising their standard of care, one hospital at a time.