Health Tech: Vik Krishnan On How Intrado Digital Workflows’ Technology Can Make An Important Impact…

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Health Tech: Vik Krishnan On How Intrado Digital Workflows’ Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall Wellness

Shifting to the perspective of the healthcare provider, engaging with patients and catering to their questions and needs manually is difficult for health systems that are facing staffing shortages and for staff who are burned out playing phone tag with patients.

In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Vik Krishnan.

Vik Krishnan, MBA, is General Manager of Intrado Digital Workflows, which includes HouseCalls Pro, a leading automated digital patient engagement platform. He has 20 years of healthcare experience, including as co-founder/CEO of CipherHealth and his work at Bain & Company and the Boston Consulting Group. Krishnan majored in biomedical engineering before obtaining an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?

My parents immigrated from India to Canada, where I was born. I had a simple, frugal, small-town childhood. As any Canadian would do, I spent a lot of time outside — snow or no snow — I played hockey and swam among other things. But I was always more intellectual than I was athletic. And my parents pushed me to study hard and work hard, and to think about long-term payoffs vs. short-term gains.

My father had studied in the U.S., and he encouraged me throughout my childhood to go there after high school, and I set my sights on that goal. I was lucky enough to earn a full academic scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, and to later attend Harvard Business School, after which I was proud to become a U.S. citizen.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I studied Biomedical Engineering, and I worked in healthcare between college and business school. My admissions essays in my Harvard Business School application all described my ambition to combine leadership training with my healthcare background to further my career. But when I got to business school, it was hard not to ignore the possibility of making more money, more quickly.

I got a bit distant from my own personal vision and in 2007 I focused on securing a summer internship on Wall Street. I remember completing interviews with one bank, and while I was in the elevator leaving I overheard two bankers having a conversation. One said, “Did you hear that so-and-so got one of those e-mails?” Their colleague said, “I didn’t, but did you know that so-and-so got one?” I didn’t realize until later that they were talking about layoff communications. And a few weeks later, that bank was defunct.

I did end up securing an internship at the merchant banking division of a major bank, but by the end of my summer, that bank was facing hard times and pretty much folded up that group, so I had no full-time role to return to after business school.

Of course, what was happening in the background was the financial meltdown of 2008–2009. So, you might be wondering what lesson there is in all of this? It certainly isn’t that banking is a bad industry or anything like that. The lesson is more about me. What was I doing? Why was I doing it? Why would I throw away my own career plans just to make more money?

The lesson is that it’s a good idea to develop your own unique, personal mission that makes sense for your career. That gives you an area where you have strength — the kind of strength that can endure the ups and downs of the economy and pay off for you in the long term. I actually had that, and I almost threw it away. But I did get back on track after business school, and of course now am in my current role.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

It will sound a bit cliché, and I apologize for that, but it’s my wife, Rachna. We just celebrated our 10-year anniversary. She has been such a big supporter of my career success, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her.

And there is no single big story here, but instead a collection of small stories that happen almost every day.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Again, this will sound a bit of a cliché, but it’s a quote often attributed to Gandhi (though I read recently that he may have never said it).

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

It’s clearly about a political or societal struggle, but it also describes my experience launching my first start-up! I think the quote pretty much sums up what it feels like to try to build something out of nothing.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

IQ, EQ, and grit. Intelligence is a requirement of any leader, but it’s not enough if a leader doesn’t know how to work with people, motivate them, and inspire them. And neither are enough without grit — the ability to conceive a long-term vision, set a series of goals and a path to get there and have the drive to relentlessly execute against those goals in service of your vision.

In my first job after business school, I founded a healthcare technology business called CipherHealth. My goal and vision was to improve the patient experience digitally by specifically preventing and reducing 30-day readmission rates. While there was some definite industry push-back at the time around readmission, I was able to champion efforts with health system leaders and staff by providing a solution to some of their most pressing problems. And because they cared about the same problem I cared about and believed in this shared mission, I had motivated supporters from day one. I took my long-term vision, set tangible goals, and ultimately executed those for the betterment of the health system, staff, and patients.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on our wellness. To begin, which particular problems are you aiming to solve?

As a patient, managing your care and understanding your responsibilities is difficult. And if you’re not in front of your doctor, a nurse, or other hospital staff, getting any kind of question answered or making a change (i.e., to an appointment) is even harder. This can lead to a lower quality of care and an unfavorable patient experience.

Shifting to the perspective of the healthcare provider, engaging with patients and catering to their questions and needs manually is difficult for health systems that are facing staffing shortages and for staff who are burned out playing phone tag with patients.

Finally, there is healthcare capacity “misuse” — this happens daily and is always a missed opportunity for hospitals and health systems to deliver care to patients. Examples of “misuse” include unfilled appointment slots, cancellations, no-shows and even patients who arrive for a healthcare procedure but haven’t prepared appropriately (so the procedure has to be canceled).

These are the problems we aim to solve.

How do you think your technology can address this?

Our HouseCalls Pro SaaS patient engagement platform works through a combination of intelligence, integration and automation. HouseCalls Pro integrates with electronic health record (EHR) systems used by healthcare providers, and through this integration, it knows which patients to reach out to, when, and what to share with them.

This technology is about far more than delivering messages, though. It actually solves tasks through two-way workflows using SMS (text messages), interactive voice response (known as IVR), and chatbots. Patients can self-schedule or reschedule healthcare visits, whether they’re seeking an annual physical, or seeing a specialist for the first time after receiving a referral from their primary care provider. The platform also reminds patients about important preventive screenings, like mammograms. For a procedure like a colonoscopy, for example, the workflow is more than just setting an appointment — patients have to complete specific preparation instructions. Thankfully, our platform can automate these instructions and confirm with the patient they have sufficiently prepared for their visit, helping healthcare organizations keep schedules full and avoid canceled appointments.

In short, our technology makes it possible for patients to actively participate in their care, communicate and take action with self-service options along the full continuum of their care journey.

The best part of this is that it’s all automated. Staff no longer need to spend valuable time chasing patients down to do any of this.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

I myself had an inpatient surgical procedure in 2005 in New York City, at a top-notch hospital. And I was put under general anesthesia for the procedure. I remember waking up in the recovery room feeling groggy and being handed a pink piece of paper which they called a “discharge sheet”. I was discharged later that day. I remember walking out of the hospital still under the effect of the drugs, and for an unknown reason, crumpling up that discharge sheet and throwing it in a garbage can, and taking a cab back to my apartment.

I realized the next day that I had no idea what my next steps were. And no successful efforts were made to reach out to me. What followed were days of effort on my part to reach staff at the hospital and understand what to do next. I actually discovered that there were two temporary implants in my body that needed to be removed.

It didn’t make sense to me that patient engagement was so broken and lacking. It was four years later that I founded my first patient engagement start-up and got started on doing my part to make things better.

How do you think this might change the world?

Patients will be happier and healthier. And so will hospital and other healthcare staff — these individuals work hard, and perform a valuable service for us. The time of healthcare staff shouldn’t be spent playing phone tag with patients.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

I’ve watched a lot of episodes of Black Mirror on Netflix. The most important thing to emphasize is that we do not store information about patients. We act on patient information that exists in provider EHR systems, and when patients communicate with their providers, the system is updated and enhanced based on those interactions. But we do not create some “parallel system” where we are storing information, intruding on people’s privacy, or using information in ways that are not clearly related to their care or required by their healthcare provider. We have no interest in any of that.

Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”?

Create and rally around a positive vision that creates value for others

Achieve product-market fit

Make doubly sure you have achieved product-market fit

Make sure you have a plan to maintain product-market fit

Surround yourself with great people

Numbers 2, 3, and 4 sound a bit like a joke, but they aren’t. If you want to succeed in the SaaS-technology space, nothing matters more than product-market fit.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

If you are thinking about creating or running a business, having a mission that strives to create a positive impact is easier to rally around. It is easier for your people to feel motivated and to understand what you are about. It is easier for all functions within your business (Product, Marketing, Sales, Operations, etc.) to understand their purpose. And it is easier for your customers and even the market in general to understand you.

And company missions that are about making a positive impact are more durable and stand the test of time. They help sustain businesses over the long term.

If the question is more generally about an individual’s focus — versus building a business — I would say that making a positive impact is more fulfilling to you. Do not underestimate this or the impact on your own well-being. And if you are focused on making a positive impact, you will naturally gravitate toward other individuals, groups, and perhaps companies that are similarly oriented — which will create a positive network effect for you!

Is there a person with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.

A front or back-office staff worker at any hospital, health system, or group practice provider who deals with patient engagement issues. You probably thought I was going to say something like “Elon Musk” or “The CIO of Mayo Clinic”? Actually — I would like to have breakfast with the CIO of Mayo Clinic — they are a customer!

I believe you can learn a lot from the person who faces the day-to-day problem that you are solving.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I often share commentary on the healthcare and health tech industry, as well as updates about the great work Intrado is doing on LinkedIn at

Or you can visit our website at for more about how the HouseCalls Pro platform is making a difference in the lives of patients and healthcare staff and helping hospitals and health systems.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.

Health Tech: Vik Krishnan On How Intrado Digital Workflows’ Technology Can Make An Important Impact… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.