Innovaccer was founded to accelerate innovation. In our Innovators @ Innovaccer series, we interview “Xccelerators” who’ve brought their talent and experience to Innovaccer to accelerate healthcare’s digital transformation. Here’s the latest Xccelerator to share his story and why he came to Innovaccer.
Gary Druckenmiller has been in technology and consumer experience for three decades and HIT for more than 12 years. His role at Innovaccer is the culmination of his experience. As the general manager of Innovaccer’s patient relationship management (PRM) team, he leads Innovaccer’s efforts to help health systems deliver one-to-one patient experiences. Gary considers this role a front seat in the rocket ship he calls Innovaccer and came down from orbit to give us a peek into why.
I come from a large family—I’m the youngest of five kids. My next closest sibling in age is nine years older than me. The rest of my siblings are four years apart, which gave me the benefit of seeing different generations through my siblings’ eyes and learning from them. I’m Gen X, and they’re all baby boomers.
Another fun fact is that of the men in my family, I’m the only one who isn’t an engineer. One of my brothers was a mechanical engineer for the military, another is an electrical engineer, and my father was a civil engineer who designed bridges.
I’ve been in this space since the mid-1990s, and I was a founding member for a startup with a similar goal that Innovaccer has, to transform healthcare. The timing wasn’t right; it was too early. The ideas were there, but the technology wasn’t. The goal was to deliver something transformational, but the focus was on process and workflow, not derived in data. It didn’t have a provider data model that was consistent, reliable, or revolutionary.
I came to Innovaccer because they were doing things differently—the opposite way that everyone else tried to for the past decade. Innovaccer’s data-first approach is succeeding. And the beauty of it is that most providers in the U.S. now realize this is how to start and perpetuate innovation.
I’ve had a well-managed, curated, and disciplined career, but I’ve realized that for those of us who have been talking about this for years, Innovaccer is achieving it. They caught lightning in a bottle. This 50-year buildup of messiness—busted data and broken consumer journeys—can now be rebuilt. I’m still learning new things here every day. For me, it’s the absolute right place to be.
I head up the PRM business under Sean Hogan, general manager of Innovaccer’s provider business. We call it our Patient Relationship Management (PRM) solution, which is similar to customer relationship management (CRM) but with a focus on unifying the consumer and patient experience into a singular health one-to-one journey.
This can be achieved through “white glove” treatment and communications from the first point of contact throughout the entire patient journey. I believe only Innovaccer can do this. It’s a new and expansive area for us. Having almost 25 years of experience in CRM—12 of which have specifically been in healthcare and for providers—has given me a unique perspective.
The first half of my career was spent in retail, CPG and manufacturing. I worked in numerous CRM and e-commerce initiatives where consumerism was not merely the centerpiece, but the only way out. The precision and data required to perfectly match how a consumer thinks, processes, decides, re-thinks, purchases, and maintains loyalty for a knife, a lightbulb, or a watch is an exercise not for the faint of heart. It’s ridiculously hard. Bringing that background to healthcare and health systems is the ultimate challenge. And I would argue it’s 100 times harder than marketing consumer goods, which is why no one has successfully done it yet.
First and foremost, we’ve all worked together closely in past work lives. I brought much of my team to Innovaccer because we’ve been through this together before. Each person brings something different to the team. This moment we’re in is unlike anything anyone has been involved in before. The team must be multifaceted; I have a group of sales leaders who are incredibly knowledgeable in this space.
And they’re not just salespeople—they’re more like healthcare technology psychologists. They take a lot of time and effort to learn the material and understand the proper articulation. I refer to them as next-gen salespeople because they do a lot of discovery and strategic prep. They listen more than they talk, and they’re laser-focused. One of my sales leaders is also incredibly knowledgeable in product, product packaging, and storytelling, and a consultant in our growth strategy team is an expert in understanding consumer and patient journeys.
It’s a well-rounded team and among us we have expertise in different areas. It’s as if we’re starting another new business again. I’m grateful to Sean Hogan for allowing me to build the team this way. They were leaving their former jobs—the great resignation is a real thing. That’s how we got them.
Since I come from the same space, there hasn’t been a huge learning curve. My team knows who we’re selling to, we know the storyline, and the challenge. A typical day focuses on the five P’s of marketing: product, price, place, promotion, and people.
We look closely at these things, not just the sales engine. We’re looking through product updates, trying to position or reposition the solution for where it’s going to go next. A typical day is running the full engine of what an entire business would look like from a go-to market perspective, not just one piece of it.
At the same time, I try to make sure that as a team we keep a strict narrative, focus on how we say things, and ensure we maintain a relative degree of consistency. I try to keep the forward motion on track with how we’re growing, which at Innovaccer, is at the speed of a rocket ship.
Hands down, the difference is Innovaccer’s data-first approach to the provider space. We’re a provider-specific cloud data company at our core, and no other company can stake claim to that. I appreciate the management team’s focus. I’ve seen firsthand how if you’re not that way, it can kill a startup.
But simultaneously, what sets us apart is our cofounders’ (CEO Abhinav, COO Sandy, and CCO Kanav) approach to innovation. They look for innovation in others and for others who have a new and refreshing vantage point on what’s next. They’re eloquent, humble, and courageous leaders who care about the company and this vertical. Our values align, which is important to me.
If you’re in the healthcare space, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Innovaccer is doing what others tried to in the past and failed at—bridging the gap of consistent, reliable, data-driven communication with passive consumers creating determined patients and loyal health spokespeople.
Innovaccer is unifying a common health journey to the point that it's akin to other buying journeys that we encounter every second of every day in our normal lives. We’re doing this in a way that is counter to what we’ve seen over the past decade, which, to me, is exciting.
In this age of social media, I’ve raised two very well-grounded children who understand how life works, share an appreciation for hard work, and have their own voice. That’s what I’m most proud of. I think the hardest thing to do in this day and age is raise children.
It’s only been four months, but I’m proud of getting my team together so quickly. It’s an accomplishment to bring four people who were quickly exiting their former lives and careers that they’d been in for years—alongside me in many cases—when some organizations struggle to get one good hire to join. They all came up to speed quickly, are invested in Innovaccer, and are good at what they do. This is a team of doers. They’re eloquent and persuasive and have a track record of being right. And they’re in the mix at a high capacity, already delivering and creating things.
When I was in my late twenties in my first job at Sylvania, I worked with Greg Schmidt. Greg oversaw the building of next-gen technology systems (mostly SAP). He would often stop by my office and talk with me. We would chat, and he explained how the IT world worked through the lens of the commercial internet. He explained the intricacies of everything going on at that time in a way that was not condescending.
To this day, I try to emulate what he did for me. I remember our conversations and the nuance he had. He would tell me, “Not everything is worth fighting for. Sometimes, you’ve got to let time just do its thing.” And I now use that same sentiment with my team. I tell them that time is a great thickener of things. Give some items more time on the boiler, let them simmer and work themselves out. You don’t have to take everything head-on. Sometimes things just naturally work themselves out on their own. Greg drilled that into my head, and for me, it’s one of my best-kept secrets.
I feel fortunate to have had a mentor like Greg. He was magnanimous and humble. When he walked into a room, everyone noticed him and wanted his attention. He made sure he got to everyone. He was so natural and blended into business society so easily, but once he started talking, I would put my hand under my chin and listen (and listen and listen). That experience still sits with me more than 20 years later.