Chris Klomp knew he’d have a career in healthcare, but he figured it would probably be as a physician—just like his dad. “My dad taught me that being a physician/provider/healer was the highest calling you could have in life. So I believed that. I still believe that actually.”
But Klomp didn’t end up with a stethoscope around his neck. Instead, after talking with a mentor, he realized he could make an even greater impact by focusing on the business end of healthcare. After coming back from his overseas mission as part of his work in the Mormon Church, Klomp switched his major at BYU from biochemistry to economics.
After college, Klomp did a couple of stints at Bain – first on the management consulting side at Bain & Company and later at Bain Capital doing private equity work. He also graduated from Stanford Business School and co-founded a company that worked in AI. But the idea of working in healthcare never left him—and while at Bain Capital, he helped two of his friends, Adam Green and Wylie van den Akker, develop their healthcare software startup, Collective Medical, in the early 2010s.
Klomp worked with Collective Medical on the side for a few years, until he quit Bain to become full time in 2014. As the token business guy, he took on the role of CEO, while Green was in charge of development and van den Akker leading IT.
Evolution of Collective Medical
Collective has created a software platform, used by hospitals, physician groups, health plans and post-acute care facilities, to track complex and at-risk patients throughout the healthcare system. The company’s origins trace back to Green’s mom, an emergency department social worker in Idaho. In the early 2000s, Patti Green saw complex patients bouncing around the health system, with little communication between the providers.
“She designed a series of care pathways and plans to help vulnerable patients who were high-cost/high-need and needed to be tracked at the point of care,” Klomp says. This was the forerunner to the Collective Medical platform.
Today’s platform helps these providers keep track of patients who bounce around the health system and aims to optimize care transitions between facilities. Originally, the company focused on helping emergency department collaboration, to help track different kinds of patients, such as opioid drug seekers or children with chronic asthma, that tend to visit a number of EDs.
Once they cornered the emergency department market, the platform expanded to help accountable care organizations (typically comprised of health plans and provider organizations working together), nursing facilities, mental health providers and others. It’s assisting anyone pretty much anyone that needs to collaborate on a high-risk patient. Klomp credits the end users—doctors, nurses, social workers—for being the company’s growth engine.
“It turns out if you just deliver value and if you focus on delivering value to the end user, people will use [your product] and then they will become your strongest advocates and they will help you grow,” he says.
Navigating a fine line
Collect Medical’s mission is to “catch patients before they fall” through the cracks. To this point, each individual has their own set of unique criteria to keep them engaged in the healthcare system. So for Klomp and Collective Medical, the tricky part is scaling the business while trying to ensure its system won’t abandon the individual.
“The needs of one customer and one geography vary from another, and yet we’re trying to build this generalized scaling platform, so making sure that we don’t lose our way and that we don’t become that impersonal corporation. To understand the individual and unique needs of those who use us and trust us is a real challenge,” Klomp says.
On a company and a personal level, Klomp says prioritization is another challenge. How does he—and Collective Medical—maintain focus on its larger goals, while being pulled in a thousand different directions. For him personally, it comes down to trust.
“I’m learning trust and dependency on the team. We’re getting the right people in the saddle, giving them the right training and most importantly honoring our core value of autonomy and accountability. We’re giving people room to run with no obstacles impeding their progress, while also holding them accountable for the outcomes with which they’ve been charged to deliver as a function of their stewardship.”
One challenge that doesn’t bother Klomp is the regulation of the healthcare industry. While he admits it does slow them down, he says it is appropriate. “This is sensitive information that I don’t think any of us would want published freely.”
In late 2017, Collective Medical received a Series A funding of $47.5 million led by Kleiner Perkins. As the company prepares for its next stage of growth, Klomp considers himself lucky to get to where he’s been so far. “I worked really hard and tried really hard, but I feel like sometimes we underestimate…you can call it providence or you can call it luck, but sometimes we underestimate just how helpful others are in our journey.”
He says trusting and empowering employees will take CEOs a long way to where they want to go. Klomp firmly says that CEOs can’t be afraid to take risks.
“A number of my friends and colleagues thought I was pretty crazy for leaving Bain Capital when I did. It was a wonderful place to be with amazing individuals and a pretty fantastic job, and it was also quite lucrative. But I think that life is about taking risks and pursuing your passion, and ideally pursuing a passion that aligns well with your superpower,” he says.