You might think that, in the realm of healthcare, a business model is a secondary concern. In many ways, you’d be right. We’re not interested in excessive profiteering. We want to reach as many people as possible with a solution to their chronic pain. What became increasingly clear, however, is that our business model was an integral part of succeeding in that objective.
We had a treatment that both experience and clinical studies told us could make a powerful difference to the lives of people in chronic pain. To effectively spread the word about that treatment, we needed to find a way of delivering that treatment sustainably.
Our early years, from February 2014, was our equivalent of the Hewlett-Packard garage; a time to try out various different ways of doing things until we settled on an approach that worked for us and for the people we served. It ended up being a much deeper learning process than we/I had expected, but one I look back at now with gratitude and appreciation.
There is a big difference between theory and actuality, and there is no substitute for real-world learning. I can confidently say that there is real value in being faced with adversity and responding. If it happens to you, you can be confident that it will either make you better or break you. I believe it has made us better, and that betterment has uniquely qualified us to deliver to the world this new approach.
Chronic pain is very complicated. It is very individual, multifactorial, and often layered with complexity in the form of emotions and individual identification that gets tied to it. In our business model we are seeking to address this very complicated problem in a simple and elegant way. But it is also important to understand and recognize that the business model, particularly for a new, disruptive business, is also complicated and multifactorial.
Most businesses fail. They fail because there are many things that can go wrong, and even if everything goes right, success is not guaranteed. There are a lot of drivers that prevent innovation and disruption in mainstream healthcare, so we chose to build our model outside of the traditional healthcare setting—without insurance, building centers to create a whole new experience, and hopefully a strong brand, capable of shifting people’s understanding about pain and, of course, their access to our approach to it.
Creating Our PEP (Positive Experience Process)
With training and a growing body of experience, we were becoming more sophisticated, more polished, professional, and consistent in both our clinical delivery and our business processes. We came to believe that, without effective business delivery, the therapy could never really be grown in a significant way. So, we focused as much energy on business modeling and delivery as we did on achieving clinical objectives—I believe that we are the only clinic in the world to have done this.
Our focus was not on how to make a new technology fit into an existing healthcare model, but how to develop and deliver the best model to support this novel approach and create a platform for scale and expansion.
Think about the most successful brands or businesses, no matter the industry, no matter the price point, no matter whether they provide a product or a service. What’s the key to their success? I’d argue that the fundamental factor is consistency. Businesses that consistently deliver to their customers what their customers expect will likely succeed.
Take Nordstrom and Walmart, two successful retail companies, offering very different goods. The price points, the environments, the quality, the service, etc. are all different, but they are both highly successful. Why? Because they consistently deliver to their customer what their customer expects. The Walmart customer is not expecting a Nordstrom product, price point, or level of service, and vice versa.
Businesses that forget this element of success generally fail. History is full of businesses that lost sight of this fundamental concept of consistency in their business or in a certain product, resulting in their failure. We wanted to ensure that, with Radiant, we could consistently deliver the level of service our clients came to expect, so we focused on processes, training, and systems to help with both the clinical delivery of our therapy and the business delivery.
I spent many years building systems for consistency, improved outcomes, and patient results in healthcare settings, especially in the hearing aid industry, so I had good insight into where to begin. But in time, all of the systems mentioned benefited and were refined through real-world learning. They will continue to be refined because we’ve baked into our business systems a culture that is focused on continual improvement. It influences our hiring, our training, our expectations of each other, our communications, and our care and business delivery.
Over time, our process tightened, and we refined it into something that we call PEP: Positive Experience Process. PEP became our methodology—how we answered the phone, communicated our value proposition, and described our therapy. PEP became our overarching methodology for consistent, optimized, patient-centered experience.
I coached our entire team in constructing an elevator pitch about what they/we did. We weren’t a pain clinic, we weren’t a medical clinic, and we weren’t anything that had existed before. This meant that we needed to explain clearly to potential new customers who we were and what we did. We were “changing the way chronic pain is understood and treated”.
When asked, “What do you do?’” we answer, “I work for Radiant Pain Relief Centres; we’re changing the way chronic pain is understood and treated.” This leads to more interest: “What does that mean?” People ask us. “Tell me more.”
By consistently delivering our PEP, we meet people’s need to be seen, heard, and understood. We explain to them how and why we’re different and give them an opportunity to ask questions about who we are and what we do. We don’t have the automatic recognition that comes with being part of the existing healthcare system, so our business model needs to bridge the gap that exists when people contemplate investing in a new treatment for their chronic pain. While there’s always room for improvement, this model is bringing both us and our clients significant success.