What investments from massive health care players, including HCA, mean for this Nashville startup

By March 8, 2016Interview, News, Press

(as presented by Nashville Business Journal’s Eleanor Kennedy on March 8, 2016)

Although it publicly launched late last year, Nashville health-tech startup Lucro held its true “coming out” party last week. Between the announcement of an investment from some of the nation’s largest hospital players and days spent spreading its message at the annual Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference in Las Vegas, the week brought lots of notice to the company that seeks to bring clarity to an industry overflowing with eager vendors looking to court hospitals.
That investment— which included funds from the venture arm of hospital giant HCA Holdings Inc. as well as the Heritage Group, a firm that counts Community Health Systems, Lifepoint Health and other leaders among its investors— brings with it significant opportunity to leverage the scale and reach of the nation’s leading health care players, said Lucro CEO Bruce Brandes. As he’s talked to hospital system leaders, Brandes said, it’s become clear that Lucro’s systems have more uses than he first envisioned.

Massive hospital companies like HCA, CHS and others want to use the company’s product, which brings information on as many health care vendors together as it can, to analyze what they’re already using in various areas of their footprint, Brandes said. Pulling reviews, ratings and other information from different hospitals and divisions into Lucro’s database should not only make it easier for the systems to see which tools work best and could be adopted more broadly, but should also make the information in the system “more robust” for users looking to find potential vendors, he said.

The investment and partnership with these companies allow Lucro to “go really deep internally” with hospital systems that want to understand what they’re already using, Brandes said, which in turn provides information that could benefit other users down the road. The company is also “flexing the muscle” of some of its large backers to get more and more vendors onto the platform, he added.

But there’s another more immediate benefit to the investment. Lucro has yet to settle on a revenue model, though several possibilities have emerged, Brandes said. This backing gives the company enough runway to reach the revenue point when it’s “natural,” he said, without having to “sell out.”
He wants Lucro’s marketplace to be more like Amazon than Google: driven by your purchase history and the experiences of others like you, not by a vendor paying for higher placement. To get there, trust in the platform is key, Brandes said, as is a bevy of information from hospitals, vendors and other relevant players.

“Our system should become more intelligent over time,” he said.