Innovators @ Innovaccer is a series of Q&A articles where we interview healthcare industry trailblazers who brought their talent and experience to Innovaccer to help our customers accelerate innovation and digital transformation.
Andy Burtis is a veteran marketer with an impressive career that has spanned several industries. He took time from his busy schedule to share with us how his strong relationships with colleagues throughout his career, from Harvard business school to McKesson, led him to Innovaccer and the lessons he’s learned along the way that have shaped how he leads his team.
Have a question for Andy? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I live in California and have lived here for more than 20 years. I’ve been married for 26 years, have two kids, ages 19 and 18, and a chocolate lab, Winnie, who is usually by my side while I work. I’m an avid surfer, and a fun fact is that I was featured in a book called “50 Places to Surf Before You Die” in the chapter about Ocean Beach here in San Francisco. I also love pickleball—I’m addicted to it!
I’d been watching Innovaccer out of the corner of my eye for about five years. I worked at McKesson for many years with Dr. David Nace, who is now Innovaccer’s Chief Medical Officer. After Dr. Nace left McKesson, we met for lunch and talked about his role advising Innovaccer and, in his words, their “intrepid cofounders.” He described [our CEO] Abhinav as a young Steve Jobs and spoke glowingly about the other cofounders, their character, and intellectual horsepower.
We talked about the many discussions we had at McKesson about connecting healthcare, and Dr. Nace said, “I think this company is actually going to pull it off.” He explained how they were approaching it from a data perspective, that they’re computer scientists and engineers who brought a fresh perspective to the way this problem needs to be tackled. His description of the Data Activation Platform and how it was designed to unify all the disparate data in healthcare—like claims, clinical data, and social determinants of health—really piqued my interest. His enthusiasm was palpable.
I had great conversations with Abhinav and [our cofounder and COO] Sandy, and Innovaccer was becoming a bigger part of my thought process. I thought to myself, “Wow, I’m witnessing what I know is going to be an amazing story.” The stars aligned, and I knew it was the right time for me to join Innovaccer.
I watched Innovaccer grow from a kernel of an idea with these brilliant disruptive engineers to what is now the Best in KLAS Data & Analytics Platform for healthcare. The combination of the cofounders’ ability to finally solve a problem that no one else has been able to, along with their character and authenticity and the types of people they’ve surrounded themselves with—Dr. Nace, Mike Sutten, Sean Hogan, the list goes on—it all made the proposition too compelling to refuse.
I’m the Chief Marketing Officer. I’ve been here for about a year and a half, and I’m responsible for the overall marketing function, including product marketing, content, digital, demand generation, external affairs, brand, and more.
First of all, our marketing team is amazing. The group includes the most talented and hardest working people I’ve ever worked with. We are roughly 170 people with about 160 members in India. It’s a young team, the average age being around 26–28 years old. I had the opportunity to visit the office in India last year and experienced first-hand our work hard, play hard culture. There’s a tremendous sense of teamwork because people have taken and achieved so many moonshots together. Everyone is super supportive and focused on helping the company and each other realize their full potential.
My day starts early, around 5 a.m. and I walk Winnie first thing. I’m usually at my desk by 6:30 a.m. PST, because of the different time zones, and have calls until the late afternoon. A typical day includes everything under the sun, from discussing strategies to drive pipeline growth, planning for conferences like HIMSS, organizing the next PR campaign, reviewing updates to the homepage, talking about hiring decisions, looking at our budget, and figuring out which industry associations we want to join and how we’re going to promote our KLAS rating. My days are basically an exercise in managing the overall “marketing factory,” including inputs, outputs, people, process, and technology to figure out what’s working, what’s not working, and where we could break new ground to accelerate growth and create more value for our customers and partners.
It’s without question the most ambitious and hardest working company I’ve ever worked for. It’s also the most diverse company I’ve worked for, and that includes cultural, age, and psychographic diversity. It’s a company that likes to play as hard as it works. Despite some activities being hampered by COVID-19, our people love to have fun together.
For the same reason I did: to be part of this great opportunity to finally make healthcare work as it should. And the authenticity and ambition here is amazing. One of our core values is about “taking moonshots,” so there’s a lot of encouragement to think big and take bold action. There’s also a very team-oriented atmosphere, with people always willing to step in and help each other. And again, everyone works hard but has fun doing it.
I would say my biggest accomplishment in life is being a great husband and father. Everything else is a distant second.
The marketing team plays a critically important role in growing our pipeline, and we’ve continued our pace of growing the pipeline nearly 100% year-over-year. Over the past year, we’ve also made great strides in adding fantastic talent to the teams both in the U.S. and India, diversifying our marketing tactics to focus equal attention on “value” and “volume,” significantly strengthening our content marketing capabilities, and we’ve evolved our brand to focus on accelerating innovation in healthcare. If I had to point to one accomplishment I’m most proud of, it would be HIMSS 2021, which resulted in the highest number of booth scans and prospect meetings we’ve ever recorded at an Innovaccer conference, and an expected pipeline bump of more than $4M.
There are two people who have had a great impact on me during my career.
The first is John Hammergren, the former CEO of McKesson. John exemplified what authentic leadership looks like. He’s a man of tremendous character and integrity, who always showed a deep and genuine appreciation for everyone he worked with, from the janitor to the CFO. He knew how to bring out the best in people, how to make them feel great about their contributions, and how to help them connect their work to the bigger purpose at the organization.
Another person who changed my thinking was Clay Christiensen. He was a former Harvard Business School professor who I worked with when I was at both Harvard and McKesson. He developed the theory of disruptive innovation, which many have called the most influential business idea of the early 21st century. I had an opportunity to see his research evolve over his career, and I’ve worked directly with him on several occasions. He has influenced my thinking around innovation more than anyone. And, one more fun fact: Clay and I were on the same intramural basketball team at Harvard Business School (he was 6'8)!