How a CRO Can Help Healthcare Companies Transition From Survival to Growth

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The COVID-19 pandemic put healthcare companies on the defensive. But as the economy began to open, and we are ushered into a new era of healthcare, leaders should transition to an offensive mindset — focusing on growth rather than survival.

How can they do this? By taking a page out of tech’s playbook and hiring a chief revenue officer, or CRO, to drive revenue, innovation, and transformation while improving the patient experience.

What CROs Bring to Healthcare Companies

The chief revenue officer position was created to focus on new revenue opportunities. Unlike a position like VP of sales, which is more tactical and focused solely on sales quotas, CROs are strategic-minded individuals who guide businesses into more profitable futures. Specifically, a CRO can help your business:

Create new revenue channels. ACRO’s job is growth, period. They are charged with identifying new sources of revenue, finding fresh opportunities, and improving or upselling existing ones. That might mean pursuing a joint venture with a hospital, realigning post-acute care strategies, or any number of other plays.

Take advantage of new technologies. CROs pair their understanding of the healthcare industry with knowledge of the latest technology to come up with new ways to reach patients, earn revenue, and create efficiencies.

Build strategic relationships with insurers. Insurers are increasingly looking to contract directly with healthcare organizations and share risk. Good CROs are familiar with possible economic arrangements and can help facilitate solid working relationships.

Emphasize the importance of revenue. CROs oversee marketing and sales, creating a more integrated approach to go-to-market strategies and execution. Inviting a CRO to the table sends the message that sales is imperative.

I recently had the opportunity to work with Barry Uphoff, the managing partner and founder of Martis Capital. Based on his firm’s experience as a valued investment partner for middle-market healthcare companies, he agreed.

“If you elevate the focus on revenue to the C-suite, it shows the importance of having growth conversations at the table where resource trade-offs are made rather than tucked away at the VP level, where such decisions may never make it to higher-level members of the company,” Uphoff said.

What Great CROs Look Like

It should be clear that CROs are essential for building strong, growth-minded businesses. What may not be clear is what kind of person is best suited for the role. The right people for the job are:

Strategic. CROs must always look to the horizon for new revenue opportunities. Strategic, problem-solving mindsets allow them to think broader and bigger by taking a full-funnel perspective.

Data-driven. Great CROs are creative thinkers, but they ultimately are driven by data and able to build and execute on a scalable growth model. Your CRO should be able to use data to marshal all resources into revenue opportunities efficiently.

Knowledgeable about clinicians and patients. In my conversation with Uphoff, he said effective healthcare CROs have a deep understanding of the clinical element of the business, can speak to the organization’s clinical competencies, and express passion for working with clinicians.

“CROs should be emphatic and compassionate — not all about the numbers and results,” Uphoff said. “They really care about the patients, the delivery of care, and what clinicians think.”

Collaborative. CROs focus on building relationships with existing accounts as well as new ones, so a collaborative mindset is key. With this approach, they’re also able to inspire their teams to offer fresh ideas and try new tactics.

Experienced in other parts of the business. Look for someone who has spent time in multiple functions, be it a combination of sales, marketing, business development, operations, or something else. The best CRO candidates have well-rounded viewpoints of the business and can bring a broader perspective — beyond just sales.

“Simply having someone dedicated to calling for revenue, creating relationships, and building out a team focused on sustainable long-term growth is a plus,” Uphoff said. “Most organizations don’t think that way or have that function; they are still in traditional silos.”

Put yourself ahead of other healthcare businesses by hiring a growth-minded CRO. Now is not the time to be on the defensive — it’s the perfect time to plan for the future. A talented CRO can set any business up for new growth, helping a better tomorrow become a reality.

Nate DaPore, managing director with Acertitude, leads searches for chief revenue officers and senior executives of healthcare and life sciences, technology, and private equity-backed companies.

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