How I landed contract with Texas' largest not-for-profit health care system

The Dallas Business Journal

Lamarque Polvado, founder and CEO of CareStarter, on Nov. 16 signed a letter of intent with Dallas-based Baylor Scott & White Health, the state’s largest not-for-profit health care system, to provide the families of children with chronic illnesses access to resources through the fledgling company’s mobile app.

The app filters and delivers information to help patients and their families manage their lives after the diagnosis of a chronic illness: from medical and respite care to nutrition, education and other support services. The information is tailored to each patient’s diagnosis, and the app provides at least 10 options for every type of resource.

CareStarter is one of the 12 startups that made up the first class of Dallas business accelerator Health Wildcatters’ funding and mentoring program. Polvado’s new firm will distribute its app initially to pediatric patients at the Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s Hospital in Temple.

Here’s Polvado’s story of how his startup landed the contract with the state’s largest health care system.

We’ve signed a letter of intent to deploy our CareStarter empowerment platform to every patient who exits the Baylor Scott and White pediatric system in Temple/Waco, where McLane Children’s Hospital is located. Every patient who has a serious medical diagnosis who leaves their system is going to receive a CareStarter app to help them find resources upon exit from the Baylor Scott & White system.

We want to help patients. To do that, we need to get deployed to patients, and there’s no better way to do that than to partner with health care providers.

The short answer to how we partnered with Baylor Scott & White is good old-fashioned relationships. The longer answer is, it’s our job as startups to pull off things that are next to impossible to show investors and others in the marketplace that we’re doing something that’s important, and that we believe in it, and so do other people. Every entrepreneur believes in their product, but it’s another thing to get that secondary buy-in from the marketplace.

We started working on this deal in February of this year. We went through Tech Ranch, which is an incubator in Austin, and then we got accepted into Health Wildcatters, the accelerator in Dallas. We had conversations when we were in the accelerator with health care executives — specifically people in the C-suite who are passionate about health care and passionate about patients. We had great idea exchanges.

That led me on a journey to talk to a lot of different people, from Texas Health Resources to Baylor Scott & White, and eventually we got to meet with John Boyd, the CEO of McLane Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Alma Golden, a McLane Children’s Hospital pediatrician. I wasn’t there to pitch. I wasn’t there to sell something. It really was a good old-fashioned conversation about patient care, patient outcomes and what we believed our platform could do to help.

I also tried to explain my product in a way that made sense to the hospital’s executives. I told them that, inside of that children’s hospital system, it’s a comfy nest. They do things super-well. They’re very efficient. There’s lots of information. If you’re a patient, you have a team of doctors, a team of nurses, you have social workers and chaplains all dedicated to help you have the best health care experience possible.

Where it gets scary for the patient is, when you leave that system, it’s like jumping off of a virtual cliff. That’s where CareStarter plugs in. Our patient empowerment platform makes a partnership with the hospital.

What we’ve built for the system, and particularly for social workers in that system, is a powerful platform that allows them to research and put together a custom list much better than they’ve been able to do in he past, and then to deploy that list via our app.

Our app has their custom list, and then on our platform, when you receive our app, you have every resource in a geographic area, some that the hospital system may have thought of and a lot that they probably haven’t, like support groups. There are a lot of resources outside of what a health system would consider as a referral that are key to patient outcomes. That’s what we talk about when we talk about 360 degrees of care.

Our company is redefining continuity of care. We’re trying to help patients access many, many resources.

We’re being successful because we have that thought leadership. We’ve already got two other major health systems that we are engaged with and we hope to have two other announcements around February.