HealthMyne CEO Arvind Subramanian is a modern-day Renaissance Man, which is reflected in his formative experiences, educational background, bi-cultural Indian-American perspective, passionate personal pursuits, and his success over three decades as an executive and entrepreneur within big and small companies in Diagnostic Imaging and Healthcare Information Technology (HCIT) markets. He’s relentlessly inquisitive, widely read, analytical, and demanding, yet he prioritizes work-life balance and insists that employees take their PTO to stay fresh as “what we do is not for the faint of heart or weary of mind.” He leads by example having traveled to most parts of the world with his wife and two daughters, trekked through 36 out of 59 U.S. National Parks with plans to conquer the rest, toured 60 out of the top 100 art museums in the world, and attended more concerts and sporting events than he cares to count.
“I’m a high-energy person and if you’re going to be on my team you should know that I’m driven by results,” Subramanian explains. “On the other hand, I believe deep in my bones that nurturing talent, developing people, and maintaining Olympic-level cross-functional teams and processes are essential to success and that you have to work hard at this every day. I appreciate, as Professor Peter Drucker said, ‘Culture eats Strategy for lunch,’ but truly believe the ideal formulation is an aligned strategy within a deeply-rooted culture grounded by operational excellence.”
Subramanian began his career in healthcare technology at the General Electric Company (GE) in the Jack Welch era of the late 1980s, climbing to senior leadership ranks at GE Medical Systems and GE Information Services. He has leveraged the 10+ years of experience and connections gained at GE to drive a venture-capital backed start-up to rapid growth and a successful exit, and then to lead a large scale “intrapreneurship” effort at Wolters Kluwer building a global healthcare technology business from a small base to over $500M in revenue through strategic acquisitions and organic growth.
But even earlier, Subramanian demonstrated his broad-based intellectual curiosity and work ethic: he completed a dual major in Biochemistry and English Literature at elite Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH). After graduation, following a period of deep introspection, he bypassed potential careers in medicine and research, then took a job as a market research analyst and writer/editor, and returned to school for an MBA – all before joining GE in 1989.
Leading Early-Stage Business Growth
Leveraging this diverse background and approach throughout his career, Subramanian has demonstrated an aptitude for sparking growth for early stage businesses, even within big, established companies like GE.
“The 1990s were the era when diagnostic imaging was in its heyday. MR scanners and fast speed CT scanners were first being introduced. Businesses were extending into global markets,” Subramanian says. “It was a big growth time for GE Medical Systems as the leader in that field. In ’89 it was a $1.4 billion business, and when I left at the end of ’96 it was $4.5 billion. Through that growth phase, I got to do everything – first working as a competitive intelligence and strategy analyst for the Group Executive and his team, and then moving into service operations management, marketing, and global product management with profit and loss responsibility. I got great exposure and accelerated learnings in a trial by fire crucible.”
His experiences helped Subramanian see the high-growth phase for diagnostic imaging start to taper off, and the emergence of information technology and services as the next phase. He moved to a new role on the executive leadership team at GE Information Services, with the mandate to help the CEO dramatically restructure the business eventually preparing it for sale to a private equity firm.
“GE concluded that information services, especially electronic data interchange in the late-1990s, was not the typical GE business. It required a much more fast-paced rhythm and they saw the internet coming and felt that proprietary, value-add networks would soon become a thing of the past, which they have,” Subramanian says. “But that was a great experience, really getting inside an information services business and understanding the value of network connectivity and electronic data interchange in a hospital supply-chain management context.”
Subramanian’s first start-up experience was with Minneapolis-based cMore Medical, an early pioneer in clinical documentation backed by a top-tier global venture capital firm, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), which along with several other VC’s provided $5M in funding. In these very early days of adopting medical software, Subramanian recalls the challenges faced when convincing doctors to change their ways and embrace the software paradigm instead of their familiar and comfortable dictation and transcription approach to procedure documentation.
“We had to do a lot of restructuring and talent acquisition, but I liked the cMore method of hiring physicians to work with software engineers to structure the product interface and underlying medical content to really drive usability, which was key especially at that time,” Subramanian says. He immediately renamed the company ProVation Medical – to reflect its one-two punch of productivity and innovation.
Subramanian served as COO driving the company’s revenue from its early stage to the exit at a top-line of $14M. ProVation Medical was acquired by a global information services provider and medical content publisher, Amsterdam-based Wolters Kluwer (WK), for a lucrative 7.5X, $105M revenue valuation, a mix of up-front payment and a three-year earn out.
The Power of a Committed Team
Inspired by WK’s vision and resources, Subramanian and five other ProVation leaders stayed on after the acquisition, tasked with building out a point-of-care HCIT business that would empower physicians by sparking a transition from books and journals to on-line clinical decision support content and applications software with integrated medical content embedded in the clinician’s workflow.
The WK Health Clinical Solutions Business Unit, under Subramanian’s leadership, combined ProVation and other WK assets with five additional acquisitions between 2006 and 2015, growing the business from $70 million, 300 employees, and three U.S. locations to a highly profitable global business of $540 million with 1600 employees in eight U.S. cities and Chengdu, China.
“It was a very good run: we became the dominant player in point-of-care healthcare application software and on-line clinical decision support content in five market segments,” recalls Subramanian. “Interestingly, all five members of the original senior team stayed through the run, and we added four more leaders through our acquisitions, mainly of early to middle stage venture capital backed companies. Our model was revenue driven, we were not looking to buy companies and cost-reduce them. And, while we hit our revenue and profitability targets for 40 straight quarters, I’m most delighted by the 90% employee retention rate across those acquisitions and cities. We did that because we created a very strong culture.”
Subramanian points to three key drivers of his team’s success at WK: management via meritocracy, process discipline like a good sports team, and a motivated, mission-driven workforce.
“We were all focused on transforming the way healthcare is practiced with evidence-based medicine at the core: giving physicians, nurses and pharmacists much better information and software products to make better patient management decisions in real-time. That really motivated us. We had the resources and culture in place to succeed on a global basis.”
Subramanian says the loyalty and longevity of his senior team – which stayed together as a core group for almost 15 years – was a critically important factor in his success.
“At the core, I like the value creation process that takes place when you bring together a group of talented folks,” he explains. “I’ve been very fortunate. At GE, ProVation, WK, and now at HealthMyne, I am surrounded by incredibly smart people who get up in the morning trying to do something better, and it’s my job to enable their success. If I can do that, it’s a rewarding process for everybody. I like being the symphony conductor bringing together disparate musicians to produce great music. And when we succeed, the impact on patient quality, management, care, and cost reduction is obvious and very gratifying.”
Now, at the helm of HealthMyne and joined by his ProVation/WK colleague Dr. Linda Peitzman, Subramanian is still pushing hard to make an impact.
“I took a year sabbatical after 2015, but when the board of HealthMyne contacted me and explained their quantitative imaging approach to Oncology, I was intrigued by the early-stage challenge,” he says. Linda helped me evaluate it, and we both jumped in. We’ve spent 30 months building out the product and the value proposition, and I am proud of all we have accomplished. To date, we’ve raised $25 million in capital, which gives us the fuel we need to go to market.”
And now, Subramanian and his team are focused on doing just that – delivering Quantitative Imaging Decision Support (QIDS) for Radiology and Oncology to healthcare system customers and leveraging the integrated platform to enable better patient management decisions by connecting the point-of-read with the point-of-care on a global basis. Over time, HealthMyne will expand to other specialty areas across the enterprise.
HealthMyne was recently named to the “50 on Fire” list, a recognition of 50 Wisconsin people, companies and organizations who are making a difference in the state’s burgeoning startup and tech communities. “This is an exciting time for HealthMyne,” added Subramanian, “2018 has been a breakthrough year for the company, and 2019 is already shaping up to be so much more. And with the strength of our team, we’re just getting started.”