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In this installment of the Harvard Business School Healthcare Alumni Association (HBSHAA) Q&A series, Ariel Katz, CEO and co-founder of H1, talks to Michael Wong about how to find the right KOL for the right audience at the right time.
Michael Wong: During Merck’s seven-year run as Fortune’s Most Admired Company across all industries,1 I recall my manager’s coaching tip of “You need to find the right key opinion leader (KOL) who has the right expertise to deliver the right message to the right audience — and at the right time.” Over the decades, while I have observed some progress has been made to solve this puzzle, simple spreadsheets and databases seem to be the norm versus a holistic and global solution. What has changed?
Ariel Katz: Part of the challenge is that the spreadsheets still exist, and data is in silos, meaning there still isn’t a right way to get the right KOL with the right expertise to the right therapeutic or audience. That’s why we created H1. During the past 11 years, the converging elements of explosive cloud capabilities, decreasing costs of computing, and greater access to huge databases (ACA, CMS, etc.) led to the opportunity to create H1’s solution; what some have coined as a LinkedIn for the healthcare industry.2 Like LinkedIn, the platform hosts profiles for doctors. The solution provides profiles for physicians and can provide key figures in a given field by reviewing those profiles alongside scholarly publications or medical claims data. Moreover, the platform sheds insights into the patient groups which each physician is likely to treat and an expert’s potential receptivity to engage in clinical trials.
However, H1’s solution is a platform that provides greater opportunity for research funding support and a solution that enables them to communicate in a way that they engage as doctors.
With the pandemic, it became clear that there is a global need to have a trusted single source of truth for connecting the global physician population. Recognize that in January 2020, we were a company of just ten employees in the US. Fast forward to just two years later and we have been fortunate to have 10 million of the 15 million global doctors on the platform. Others appear to place value on the team’s progress as during last quarter, we secured $100 million Series C funding by Altimeter Capital, Goldman Sachs, dRx Capital and Flex Capital. Existing investors IVP, Menlo Ventures, Transformation Capital, Lux Capital, and LeadEdge also participated in this recent round of financing.3 Finally, we’re continuing to accelerate our traction with not only 100+ clients, including seven of the top ten pharmaceutical firms but also leading academic centers like Columbia University.4
With this type of traction in such a short-time period, what do you envision the future to be in the next four years — for H1 and for you?
Per your opening comments, I believe that life sciences’ organizations will leverage H1 to identify the doctor, with the expertise in a certain disease area and who has the greatest potential to run clinical trials with the right healthcare professionals who have diverse patient populations. Based upon our conversations with pharmco executives, they continue to struggle with securing diverse and inclusive patient populations that reflect the communities they serve. For insurance companies, there is an opportunity to leverage H1 to determine the right doctors to insure and leverage our network to stay abreast of the latest information. For the patient and/or their caregiver(s), there is the potential to have them choose the right doctor with the right experience to help treat their conditions.
As for me, the journey over the past few years has been challenging with lots of tenuous times and frankly hard work. During today’s Great Resignation and constant conversations around employees’ empowerment, let me provide a provocative idea for your readership. As I recently mentioned to others5 there should be times in your life that are purposely imbalanced to have balance for the rest of your life. Multiple all-nighters when I was in my early and mid-twenties were not balanced at all. However, by investing this blood when I was younger; today I can delegate certain jobs to others and ring-fence time for my wife and young son. My lack of work-life balance back then now provides the freedom of more family/work balance today.And by having this balance, I’m looking forward to working with our team to help provide healthier lives for the world in a pragmatic, doable manner.
Ariel Katz is the CEO and co-founder of H1, which provides the largest global healthcare network that connects healthcare professionals. H1 has built the premier healthcare data network for healthcare providers searching scholarly data and medical claims data to surface the most relevant researchers or clinicians given any criteria. In December 2021, Katz was named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list.
Michael Wong is an Emeritus Board Member of the Harvard Business School Healthcare Alumni Association.