While treating symptoms is often what healthcare focuses on, understanding and addressing the root cause of a disease can prevent people from suffering in the first place. Keyhorse-backed company PreventScripts created an app that takes care of assessments for doctors while patients are in the waiting room and delivers prevention programs to them, saving time and healthcare costs. It also comes with intervention care plans that can be implemented and tracked, helping people with metabolic conditions like diabetes. We talked to the co-founder and CEO of PreventScripts, Brandi Harless, about her founder journey and inspiration for starting her company.
How did you become interested in preventative healthcare?
In college, I thought I wanted to go to medical school. Instead, I went to graduate school for public health. During my first class on the first day of school, my professor had all the students do a simulation in the room. He drew two lines down the center of the room about eight feet apart and said, "Imagine this is a river." He assigned some students to act as kids who fell in the river. He told them to go to one end of the room, lay down, and start rolling in the river to the other side of the room. He then assigned another group to help the kids get out of the river once they rolled all the way down. We went on about this activity for several minutes. He brought to our attention how much effort and how many people it was taking to get all of these kids out of the river. He then picked two students and told them to go up to the top of the river and see if they could stop the kids from falling in. We had a class discussion about the difference in ease between helping every kid rushing down the river versus stopping them from falling in at the top. This is the definition of prevention, he said. Prevention is understanding the root cause of something and intervening early.
...the pandemic woke a lot of people up. Because of this, I see preventative healthcare only finding more support.
What inspired you to co-found a company?
When I moved home to Kentucky from D.C., I wasn't quite sure what career paths would be available for me in public health. I worked for an HIV/AIDS organization for a while before I learned about an organization helping entrepreneurs start businesses. I ended up working for them and helping many small businesses get started. I would tell clients while encouraging them to start a tech business that in 2011, with modern communication, you can do anything from anywhere. That was 2011—it’s crazy how far we've come since then! My co-founder Natalie Davis was one of my clients there. She had moved back from St. Louis and wanted to keep working on her medical home visit concept in Kentucky. All the encouragement I shared with her day in and day out ended up leaking a bit on me. I ended up leaving my job to run a free healthcare clinic and got back to my healthcare roots. I was super proud of the work we did to expand access to primary care through creative and bold decisions as the ACA was being implemented. Here's a quick article the Commonwealth Fund wrote about that work. Up to this point, my life experiences have accumulated just the right way to prepare me for the moment when Natalie asked me to join her on a new venture.
Tell us about your team: Who’s on it, and how did you meet?
We have three co-founders. Natalie Davis and I met at an entrepreneur support organization when she was my client. She recruited Jay Campbell because of his great reputation as an entrepreneur and a developer. We are also extremely proud of our expert advisory board we have put together through various connections over the years.
Where do you see preventative healthcare headed in the near future?
I really hope after the COVID pandemic, our healthcare system will find a greater appreciation for all things prevention. The field of Public Health has historically been the landing place for prevention research and outreach. If you think about what has historically happened in a primary care clinic versus a health department, it's easy to see the divide. The ACA tried to push things in a different direction and has had some success embedding prevention practices into the medical setting (think flu vaccines). But the pandemic woke a lot of people up. Because of this, I see preventative healthcare only finding more support.
What does success look like for PreventScripts in the short and long term?
Short-term success for us is onboarding 20 new providers to our platform by the end of the year. Long-term success is working with thousands of primary care providers to support their treatment of patients with metabolic conditions. Ultimately, we would like to go further and reach even more primary care providers through a strategic acquisition with an organization that can utilize PreventScripts to add value to what they are already doing.
Find out more about PreventScripts at www.preventscripts.com. Are you a startup based in or looking to relocate to Kentucky? Keyhorse’s current quarterly investment cycle is open until September 30th! Apply now.