Sue Hrim, RN, Chief Clinical Officer of 83bar, Inc, tells us how their Patient Activation Platform can locate, educate & navigate patients across pharma, device & diagnostic campaigns, for both clinical trials and commercial clients.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded 83bar.
Sue Hrim: I have been a nurse for 35 years. In the mid-1990s, I decided to apply my medical skills and move into clinical sales and marketing. I have always enjoyed developing medical models and teaching. Having built other companies around the DTC marketplace, we identified a need. Consumers wanted more control of their healthcare and sought help to navigate these difficult and uncharted waters. Bob Baurys and I started 83bar, Inc. to help consumers find potential solutions to their needs that they may not have found through the traditional medical model. My particular focus is on chronic condition management and direct-to-consumer telephonic clinical services.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Sue Hrim: I find it helpful just to address the elephant in the room and figure out how to solve the issue at hand. Don’t ignore it. I realize that we need to keep moving forward. So I help find a way to balance the stress of the situation professionally and personally. Fortunately, our team at 83bar also has the ability to adjust and flex to changing situations.
How does 83bar market its product/services online?
Sue Hrim: Digital healthcare marketing’s effectiveness has been validated during the pandemic, and we remain committed to strong growth throughout 2022. We have nuances unlike other digital marketing companies, and we’re the first “patient activation” company establishing a new standard in the industry. Our goal is to continue on this path, listening to consumer needs and demands. So the company has grown as well. We had double-digit growth for each year from 2019 to 2022.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Sue Hrim: We have a proprietary platform to execute our 4-part LEAN (Locate, Educate, Activate, & Navigate) System that delivers ready-to-act patients to medical providers on behalf of our medical device, medical diagnostics, and medical sciences partners. Over the last 5 years, the company has completed over 2 million prospective patient conversations resulting in more than 100,000 successful patient pathway outcomes across more than 25 therapeutic areas and associated diseases.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Sue Hrim: Even before the pandemic, we had more than three-quarters of people working virtual, so I think that’s been a huge advantage for us. Another advantage is our Clinical Education Contact Center, staffed by our specialists in a distributed network rather than a central office. It’s allowed us to be more responsive as the industry has morphed into more virtual patient education and more virtual clinical trials. In our hiring process, we evaluate call center specialists on their empathy. It really has something that is part of their character and rooted in the nursing and clinical experience that our agents bring. That can come out in phone conversations or interviews and role-playing during the interview process to really understand they delicately probe into a patient’s inquiry and really want to understand, and listen to what their challenges are, express empathy, and then present some of the solutions that we can offer and see if it’s a match for them. It comes down to helping people, not just making a sale.
How are you funding your growth?
Sue Hrim: In 2021, 83bar achieved a new milestone after a five-year period of start-up growth with a major capital infusion to fuel the next phase of its impact in the medical marketing services industry, as well as in the $60 billion clinical trials sector. HealthQuest Capital, a healthcare-focused venture growth fund that invests in and accelerates innovative, commercial-stage companies, has made an equity investment in 83bar. The transaction includes the equity investment from HealthQuest, as well as a $20 million debt facility from MidCap Financial Trust. We are excited that HealthQuest saw our potential to expand our capacity and capabilities further. By becoming part of the HealthQuest portfolio, 83bar can provide support to other commercial-stage companies across the healthcare spectrum, including medical devices and technologies, biopharma, diagnostics, digital health, healthcare IT, and services.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Sue Hrim: Digital health technologies give trial participants a choice to participate from the convenience of home rather than traveling to a trial site, increasing participant engagement and retention. In one of our case studies, a five-stage process illustrated how a 1,000-patient virtual clinical trial was completed in just seven months at a cost 30% lower than traditional site-based recruitment. Participants were located, educated, and navigated through a successful multi-step virtual clinical trial for an at-home colon screening test. The locating and screening of patients were conducted via paid social media ads. Next, respondents were contacted by telephone by patient education specialists for additional screening, education, and support. Per protocol, it was confirmed that participants were scheduled for a colonoscopy with their preferred local provider. Finally, sample collection kits were sent to participants’ homes. Overall, the trial achieved a timeline of six months from the first participant to the final analysis, followed by dataset review and analysis in just five days. Among the lessons learned was that the trial was more efficiently conducted with the 83bar virtual process than relying on third-party sites and remote investigators to help with the study.
Additionally, social media is the best way to find the right patients in the least amount of time. This case study was published in the American Journal of Health Research. Plus, it was presented at the PMPH conference in Berlin.