It has been eight years since Leverage Health (fka The Lungen Group) was launched. We thought it was a good time to check in with our founder, Richard Lungen for some insight on the company and how the industry has changed.
Q: What was happening in healthcare, managed care when you started “The Lungen Group”?
A: Change, similar to today. Healthcare will continue to evolve. Leading edge companies will proactively seek new needs and opportunities and the old guard will respond to changes that are simultaneously occurring. The regulatory emphasis right now is at the highest point I’ve seen in my career. Back in 2007 there were signs of this occurring. Payers were coming to terms with the idea that contracts, networks and steerage were not going to be enough. Inefficient, paper heavy systems were continuing to drive up costs. The administrative side of the industry was slow to embrace technological solutions. I felt I had some unique experience and insights to offer which led me to launch The Lungen Group. I wanted to enable innovative companies to efficiently grow their business and win new customers. At the same time we would help companies deal with the challenges around gaining the attention of health plans, and providers, ultimately earning their business.
Q: What were the problems you were trying to solve?
A: There were really two challenges. First, I wanted to enable emerging companies to achieve success, i.e. revenue growth, in an accelerated and efficient manner. Second, I wanted to impact sales into healthcare payers and providers of all sizes, while gaining access and trust with executives at those entities. This is a challenge due to market dynamics, competing priorities and overall ability to develop relationships. Our success would be defined if we could help vendors accelerate their growth and gain the trust of payers, providers and their respective executives by opening doors for them, they couldn’t open on their own.
Q: How did the Lungen Group do that differently from consulting firms?
A: It comes downs to a thoughtful, respectful and strategic approach to Business Development paired with a rigorous portfolio and product selection process.
Our Portfolio Companies know our extensive knowledge of the industry will help them to correctly define their value proposition and find the correct path to success in a complicated industry. Our buyers have come to trust that our products have graduated from a proprietary and thorough vetting process. Each company we select must meet an unmet need in healthcare and clearly demonstrate an ability to deliver on its unique promise of value.
We will never partner with a solution that has a subpar reputation, or has demonstrated poor results. Our reputation and the trust placed in us by buyers is not worth jeopardizing for a short term revenue gain. We are interested in pairing up the right solution with the right buyer and this is an evaluation that is valued by both the buyers’ and our Portfolio Companies’ perspectives.
Q: In what key ways is the company different today?
A: Our team: We grew this business from a single “salesperson” to our goal of an “end-to-end” team able to support a wide list of needs for our Portfolio Companies.
We’ve learned some lessons. After reviewing 1200 companies, successfully working with more than 50, and gaining clients over 200 times for our Portfolio Companies, we have learned a lot about what works, what doesn’t, when to invest more, and when to cut the cord.
We have earned a large client base who believes in what we do and who trust our Portfolio selection process. We are grateful for a very large list of payers, providers, and service companies that will meet with Leverage Health to hear about our new solutions and speak collaboratively of market trends.
Q: If you had some advice to give to Richard Lungen who was just setting out to start his own company, what would it be?
A: Generally, the advice I’d give would be to fully understand your market so that you can ensure you know what to focus on.
Be patient. Growing revenue can take longer than planned so be sure to have a plan with capital, budget and some near-term relationships to entertain your business.
If building a team, help your team understands their responsibilities and your goals. Make sure you all know what success looks like.
Only work with product partners who fully buy into the model.
Thoughtfully and strategically approach your prospects vs offering “the kitchen sink” of solutions at the same time.
Sign up for frequent flier miles sooner. You will be “on the road” constantly because there is no substitute for a live discussion when building trust.
Make time for family in any way and any time you can.
Q: What is the story behind this year’s new brand for Leverage Health?
A: The evolution and name change are a reflection of the two main goals I had when I founded the company. The Lungen Group reflected a person and not a team and Leverage Health is much more about the contribution and array of experiences of the team and our advisors. We are leveraging that experience and knowledge into opportunities for our Portfolio and our clients. We collectively desired a modern rebranding that captured our company culture and our focus on solutions that directly impact key challenges within the industry.
This is the first in a series of interviews with Leverage Health leadership.