2023 Most Disruptive MBA Startups: Flagler Health, Wharton School

Flagler Health

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Industry: Healthcare

Founding Student Name(s): Albert Katz

Brief Description of Solution: Flagler Health creates artificial intelligence-based software tools that help musculoskeletal (Ortho, Interventional Pain, Physical Therapy) physicians improve their suite of clinical offerings to patients.

Funding Dollars: $1 million

What led you to launch this venture? Prior to Flagler Health, I was the Chief Financial Officer at Spine and Wellness Centers of America, a multidisciplinary musculoskeletal clinic based in Florida. At Spine and Wellness Centers of America, I advocated for the implementation of a Value-Based Care Model that would improve patient outcomes by making sure patients saw the right physician at the right time. This required a joint venture with an orthopedic and physical therapy group and the acquisition of a rheumatology practice, which was expensive and difficult to operate. The technological uplift to implement and prove the cost-savings of a Value-Based Care Model in musculoskeletal clinics didn’t exist, so Flagler was born.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? Flagler Health has over 430 physicians using its platform and has recommended more than 1,500 procedures, with the average patient post-treatment relief of 75%.

What has been the most significant challenge you’ve faced in creating your company and how did you solve it? The most significant challenge at the earlier stages of Flagler Health was focusing too much on the needs of the buyers, at the expense of the clinic’s schedulers and medical assistants, the ultimate end-users. Flagler’s earlier efforts were aligned with clinic organizational goals, prioritizing ROI, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness, which provided clinic executives with the necessary operational and business metrics to get their sign off. However, it did not capture the nuanced needs or expectations of the clinic’s schedulers and medical assistants. This became evident with more market research and end-user feedback.

Acknowledging misalignment, we recalibrated our product development and marketing approach to focus on creating features clinic administrators and medical assistants loved. This pivot proved to be a turning point, as demonstrated by a 3x in user login and engagement, because it increased Flagler’s product adoption rate and ROI for clinic revenue and patient care.

How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? Jeffrey Babin, the Faculty Director of Penn’s Venture Lab, played a pivotal role in refining my team’s approach to communicating with investors. Initially, my co-founders and I were so engrossed in the technical aspects of our product that we overlooked the importance of clear and relatable communication.

Professor Babin taught us the importance of conveying why the problem we are solving is relevant, how to explain healthcare to a non-expert audience, and why we are the team to get it done.

What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? My Uncle Zoi was critical to my journey as an entrepreneur. He connected me to an unpaid summer internship at a startup when I was in high school. Outside of my typical coffee duties, I contributed by putting together slides for internal presentations and brainstormed go-to-market ideas. Reflecting back, I probably wasn’t very useful, but boy was I happy. That’s around the time I realized that my specific set of skills are best suited for entrepreneurship.

Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? Gary Kurtzman’s Healthcare Entrepreneurship class was the most valuable to us in building Flagler Health. Three of the team members here (including myself) took the class together. I recently looked back at my weekly submissions and noticed the massive transformation of Flagler Health’s go-to-market strategy since starting Dr. Kurtzman’s class.

What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Jeffrey Babin and Dr. Kurtzman both made significant contributions to Flagler Health. Professor Babin taught our team the basics of entrepreneurship and Dr. Kurtzman helped us navigate the healthcare landscape and improve Flagler’s core product offerings.

How has your local startup ecosystem contributed to your venture’s development and success? With Wharton’s network, Flagler Health has been fortunate enough to interact with and receive feedback from multiple venture investors at our product’s earliest stages. Early pre-traction feedback gave our team a better understanding of the additional proof points investors wanted to see before a seed round is raised.

What is your long-term goal with your startup? I want to grow Flagler Health into a remote comprehensive health services company that can transform any musculoskeletal clinic into a vertically integrated health system. This will help musculoskeletal physicians broaden their clinical offerings and provide better outcomes for their patients.


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