Wellford Dillard, MBA ’97, has a track record of turning around struggling companies. Today he’s using his financial expertise in a company that helps sick people get well.
Dillard is CFO of GetWellNetwork, which provides interactive patient care solutions to hospitals around the country. The company’s subscription-based software controls in-room TVs that provide instructional videos to hospital patients to help them understand their condition and treatment. Patients can also use the device to ask doctors and nurses questions before seeing them in person. A mobile app helps patients remember the names of their medications and treatment directives after they are released from the hospital.
At the 2013 Social Enterprise Symposium, Dillard discussed the company’s strategy for growth with 19 MBA and undergraduate students during an invitation-only boardroom discussion.
Originally, GetWellNetwork’s goal was to be profitable by 2012. Dillard showed the board how the company could instead make investments to improve patient outcomes, which would also improve the company’s ROI story, which would then drive sales. “Those things are not obvious from a [profit and loss] perspective,” says Dillard. “Today we have fantastic ROI and new products that have been important for patient outcomes. And our sales were three times that of the previous year. We’re going to double in size and revenue this year.”
One hospital experienced a 60 percent reduction in its readmission rate, he says. Another realized a 24 percent increase in staff responsiveness. A medical center saw its pharmacy revenue rise by $1.6 million, just because GetWellNetwork’s software reminded patients to fill their prescriptions. The company is so highly regarded that last year it was sold to Wells Carson, a private equity fund that specializes in health care IT.
Fiscal responsibility is important to investor-backed businesses, says Dillard, but “every time we’ve made the right decision for the patient, it’s been the right decision for the company.”