Kristen Duell, CEO of Savii, has 15 years’ experience in the healthcare sector. She began her journey as a Personal Care Aid, and discovered her passion for delivering exceptional care. Her hunger to make a bigger difference led her down the path of health information technology.
Kristen met with us at Savii’s beautiful office in Industrious in downtown Tampa, and we had a conversation about healthcare, technology, Tampa, and everything in between.
Roxanne Williams: You were recently appointed as the CEO after Savii’s acquisition by HAS Technology Group. You actually worked your way up. You started as a PCA and you have 15 years of experience in healthcare and also some experience working at technology companies as well. Were you headhunted by HAS? How did you become the CEO?
Kristen Duell: HAS Technology is the parent company of Care Management, a company that I worked for previously. During my time with them, I took on more of an executive role, and we kept in touch when I moved onto KanTime Software.
There was always this desire for them to come back into the United States. Mick Crosthwaite was appointed Executive Chairman, and he flew over to meet with me. Shortly thereafter, I introduced Mick and the rest of the HAS team to Tim Rowan, an industry consultant, who ultimately facilitated the acquisition of Savii.
In truth, I was not interested in leaving my current employer at all. However, they offered me an opportunity I had dreamed of – basically saying they wouldn’t take the acquisition without me. That was very flattering!
Matt Vaughn: So, to tie into that acquisition that ended up bringing you onboard, what was the reason for it? Is that to grow the scalability and financials, is it different initiatives and strategies, is it mostly a territory-related?
Kristen: We’ve got more of an interactive approach to things now, so how is the software going to be able to complement the lifestyles and complement the agencies and be able to support them and be able to really transcend with them into that new generation? That’s where the opportunity really comes with Savii – because Savii is a newer technology.
The scalability in the US, in regards to potential profitability, is far greater than other markets. If you look at the statistics with America and how many people are hitting this age bubble, and what that means from a chronic healthcare perspective, coupled with the desire for people to be supported in their home, this results in an outstanding opportunity to deliver disruptive solutions.
Our generation, as we get older, wants to be more interactive and involved with their healthcare. Savii has an interactive and simple approach to its tech. We can complement the lifestyles of our patients and agencies. It is a truly savvy and sophisticated solution – the name couldn’t be any better. The capabilities are unmatched in the industry.
Matt: That kind of leads into another one of our questions – that boom in your experience from starting in that life and seeing that growth and what’s coming with the baby boomers. What has that experience been like?
Kristen: It’s ramping up rapidly. How are we going to handle predictive technology, AI, learning technologies – how is that going to be built in to result in prevention? That’s part of what Savii is able to do, with HAS Technologies as our prestigious parent company. That’s really what our generation and the generation above us is going to be looking for as a solution – prevention, rather than simply reducing risk.
Roxanne: So, the goal for Savii is to make care technology more intuitive. Barring AI and whatnot, how is the software achieving that? I know the perspective is from the employee’s point of view. They want the software to be user-friendly. So, is it just UI/UX that you guys focus on to make it more intuitive?
Kristen: UI/UX is the biggest piece of marketing for user experience. The intuitiveness of ‘how many times do I have to click to be able to do my job? How long do I have to wait for a screen to load?’ Savii, from a UI/UX perspective, is really smooth.
Since Savii’s acquisition, we have had very experienced staff join us. They will continue to increase the user experience so that we stay unmatched in the industry.
When you’re building something out, are you building it out so that you’re fixing the problem that you have right now, or are you building it out so that you’re going to be able to fix the problem that you’re going to have tomorrow? We’re building out a solution to not just address today’s challenges, but also address tomorrow’s.
Roxanne: Is the founder at all involved with the company?
Kristen: Michelle Harper has been absolutely amazing through the transition, but ultimately has parted ways with Savii. She is celebrating her success and has moved on to another company.
Roxanne: How long had the company been active before you took over?
Kristen: 4 years.
Matt: It’s definitely not for everybody to say the least, regardless of how competent or awesome a track record.
Kristen: The work it takes to accomplish what she has is impressive.
Matt: For sure. In my opinion, you have a unique perspective on the kind of tech people that you’ve worked with versus traditional enterprise. With your time in the Tampa Bay area, what kind of change and improvement in tech talent have you seen over your career?
Kristen: I think the feeder schools that are in the Tampa Bay area drive a significant amount of that change.
Kristen: Yes, and also University of Tampa and University of South Florida.
Roxanne: You talked a little about back-end and stuff. I wanted to know what tech stacks you guys leverage?
Kristen: So it’s an SQL software solution, SaaS-based solution, C#.
Matt: The company currently has about 20 staff, is that right? With 8 of those being tech, what kind of expansion do you foresee for the next year or two?
Kristen: We are looking to grow the tech team significantly over the next two years. We are aiming to have a team of 35+ by Q2 of 2019.
Roxanne: What do you hope to see in the next years when it comes to tech in Tampa?
Kristen: Seeing Tampa increase the number of tech companies. I think networking is a big part of any business, especially in the startup tech phase, and helps significantly with how you’re able to connect and do deals together.
Matt: Since your office is in a coworking space, have you found people to work with here?
Kristen: Yes. I am partnering with E2 Generations – they work here out of Industrious.
Matt: Our first clients were people in CoWorkTampa, because it’s a whole bunch of a startups that are all next door and see you every day, and they need people as they grow.
Roxanne: I kind of hate myself for this pun but I’m going to say it anyway. Are you wired into the tech community here? Are there any events or meetups that we can find you at?
Kristen: Honestly, no. I want to, I want to be wired into the community more. I haven’t been able to yet though because the acquisition just finalized on August 30th. We’ve been busy.
Matt: We talked briefly about your years in home care. Can you tell us a story about your favorite patient?
Kristen: I started out as a patient care aide. Early in my career, I was sent to an older lady that was very sick – in hospice and receiving private duty services. She had a history of not keeping new staff very long if they couldn’t achieve her standards of success. She had a set of a few nurses that covered the majority of her shifts, but needed to have fill-ins from time to time.
It was a rough first day, but I went back the next day, and I went back the day after that, and I went back the day after that. I became really close with her, to the point where it was an honor to be there with her through that process and getting to help take care of her. She taught me a lot about healthcare, and she taught me a lot about business. I think that’s something that a lot of the younger generation doesn’t absorb enough of – really taking the time to sit, listen, and learn. One of the number one diagnoses in the United States is loneliness, which leads to depression. It was an honor to be there for her during that time, the most important care that I provided to her was companionship.
That solidified to me what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I was always going to be in healthcare. It was single-handedly one of the most defining parts of my career.
Matt: Perfect answer. Thanks for sharing that.
Roxanne: Yeah. This might actually tie into that, but what was the most difficult situation you’ve had to deal with in your career and how has it helped you grow?
Kristen: It ties into that probably a little bit. I truly understand what it is that our customers go through every day. Being able to share that experience is certainly what has helped me grow. Why should they have to worry so hard about the tech when they need to be worried about the care that they’re delivering?
Did anybody teach you to use Facebook? Did anybody teach you to use Amazon? No! So why are we having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes millions, to buy a solution that isn’t even going to meet their needs and is going to get in the way of doing their job?
Matt: Absolutely right.
Roxanne: To close this off, are there any further thoughts or insights you’d like to share, anything exciting coming down the pipeline for you or for Savii?
Kristen: There’s so much. The next releases are going to have a lot of embedded technology from HAS Technology. What I’m alluding to is Savii ARMED, which stands for Advanced Risk Modeling for Early Detection. This leverages machine learning and was recently highlighted at the Microsoft Decoded event by none other than their CEO Satya Nadella. You can find out more about it here: https://youtu.be/c7PJtVnyfs0.
Savii is a solution partner that stands beside you and the challenges you face daily as a post-acute provider. Their solution is focused on delivering maximum benefit unobtrusively in the background, allowing you to get on with delivering the best care, while driving efficiency through their innovative electronic record. They see a future where their technology and patient care are symbiotic.
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