Woody Baum, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Local Infusion, shares his infectious enthusiasm for making things better for patients, tips on recruiting and retaining an amazing team, and how they are using technology to improve the experience in their centers.

Leverage Technology for Patient Experience, Local Infusion

Transcript: How to Leverage Technology for Patient Experience with Woody Baum

Amanda Brummitt:  WeInfuse podcast episode 54. Welcome to the WeInfuse Podcast. My name is Amanda Brummitt. In every episode, we give you a seat at the table as we talk to infusion center owners, operators, and experts, so that you can get the insight you need to run a thriving practice. In this episode we talk with Woody Baum, Chief Executive Officer of Local Infusion. Woody shares his infectious enthusiasm for making things better for patients, tips on recruiting and retaining an amazing team, and how they’re using technology to improve the experience in their centers. So, as I said, we’re here today with Woody Baum of Local Infusion. Woody, we are so excited to have you on our podcast. And, I know some of our guests are familiar with you, but for the ones that you aren’t, can you just take a minute and walk them through your amazing background in investment banking, infusion management, and then we’ll get into your infusion center just.

Woody Baum: Excellent. Well, man, great to be here. You know, for if you’re a rapid follower of the WeInfuse podcast series, and I’d recommend that everyone become one. You know, it’s not my first time on the show, but I’ll reintroduce myself. I have a corporate finance background, so investment banking, private equity, previously led an infusion center management company, and now I’m here as the founder and CEO of a new digital health center, Local Infusion.

Amanda Brummitt: Fantastic. And what do, if you had to pick just one area of expertise, what would you say is your main area?

Woody Baum: I, yeah, I’m remiss to talk about expertise in anything. I feel like I’m still in the early stages in my career, and learning new things every day. Functionally, I have experience in the channel, in the infusion channel, sales and marketing within physician offices reimbursement par payer strategy. I had to pick an area where I spend most of my time and where I know I’ve done a good job. It’s in recruiting and team building. It’s the number one job as a CEO and I’m surrounded by the most incredible group of individuals at our current company.

Amanda Brummitt: Man. Well, I, I always think it’s wise when people don’t put themselves out as an expert, so I can certainly appreciate your hesitancy there. But, recruiting, retention, and team building are huge right now, especially in our current marketplace. Is there something that you can share with our audience where they can learn from you in that area?

Woody Baum: You know, I think there’s a couple things you want to focus on as a leader. I think one of them is to be yourself. You know, I’ve learned not to pattern match after other CEOs, like I don’t look at other successful CEOs and try to be them. I think it’s important to be who you are and be authentic because people will respond to that. But you know, I think a big piece of this is just spelling out the vision and showing here’s where we are, here’s where we wanna be, and this is how you help get us here. Do you wanna be a part of that journey? And I think the more clearly you can talk about that and the more appealing you can make that vision and journey for people, the more excited they’ll be. And, and so when we started our current company, I mean, it was. We didn’t even have a name. I recruited an incredible group of people and all I had to do, all I had to sell them on was that vision. It wasn’t about pay, it wasn’t about compensation. It wasn’t about company culture because there was none. It was just me, you know? But now we have an incredible group of people, a hundred percent aligned on what we’re trying to accomplish, and we’re building that culture together. So I think, you know, focus on the why, focus on the where, and really think deeply about what you’re trying to accomplish, and I think people will resonate with that.

Amanda Brummitt: Yeah, absolutely. That is wonderful advice. And if people know where you’re headed and they believe in it, they will follow you anywhere. Including when that means working extra or dealing with a challenging situation. So that is fantastic.

Woody Baum: A hundred percent. And, and it’s just, you know, in business and in the infusion industry, no matter what, what you’re doing, there’s gonna be bumps in the road. And what you really need is a team that’s a hundred percent invested in that vision; and that mission; and that journey. That’s what’s gonna get you through those moments. And as an individual, I have moments of doubt and I get frustrated and I get down. And when you have that team that’s firing on all cylinders, I can look around at this talented group of individuals and say, gosh, like we’ve got this. Right. That’s what inspires me when we have, when we have difficult days, and then we have them. Right? So I think as a leader, you know, it really just comes down to the team and if you could spend 50 or 70% of your time on anything, it’s making sure that team is on point. They’re aligned and you have the right people, right seats.

Amanda Brummitt: Yeah, absolutely. Great advice. Well, we’ve talked about the team just a little bit. Can you tell us about Local Infusion? Tell us about the launch and what your company is about.

Woody Baum: So we’ve been working in intel for the last year. I started it in December 2021, but we’re a digital health venture focused on patients with chronic autoimmune diseases, on specialty medications. We’re launching later this year in New England, and we’ll have four locations up and running by the end of Q1 2023. You can think of us as an AIC company, as we have physical brick and mortar locations. However, there are few distinctions with an intense focus on patient experience, technology and clinical integration, as well as virtual care and providing services outside of the four walls.

Amanda Brummitt: Oh, fascinating. So what is your vision for the space and the technology?

Woody Baum: Yeah, so, you know, it’s not my first time on the podcast. I come from this industry. I’ll be in a different channel, I’ll say. And I worked with Ashley Nay, who was my former head of sales, and several other people that are with me now. And when we were working together, we kept looking around and thought that the industry could be much more. And, you know, one thing I’ll point out is that there’s this constant focus on, in the AIC industry, on cost. You know, I’m being low cost, and I’m sorry, but if I’m a patient, I don’t want to go to the low cost option. I want to go to the best option. I want the best care possible- affordability. Affordability is a component, but I want the best care. But what does that mean, right? Like, how do you measure that? And right now I think there’s very little out there to prove that one setting is better than the other. So what we’re doing and where we’re gonna lead the way is improving our outcomes. And that starts with data, starts with capturing and surfacing data to show that patients are better off at our infusion center, not just because it’s cheaper, but because patients respond better at our locations. And then taking it a step further. What other outcomes can we affect? You know? And so we see interoperability and care coordination as big opportunities to improve the lives of our patients. And to do that, we’ve built out a care model to support and drive patient outcomes above and beyond the successful administration of infusion therapy. To do that, we built the technology suite that extends beyond the four walls of the infusion center.

Amanda Brummitt: Wow, that sounds incredible. It sounds like what a lot of people intend to do, but you rarely end up seeing that data, so I love it. I love that you plan on proving your concept. That’s incredible. I can imagine that patients and referring physicians are ecstatic about it.

Woody Baum: Yeah, I mean there’s a reception with a couple referring providers that we have as advisors, and just existing relationships in the industry to help us build out this care model. And, we’ve previewed the technology, the model with them. They’re very excited. I mean, you know, now they’re asking, how soon can you open? We wanna send you patients. So the reception’s been great. You know, as it says in my LinkedIn profile, patients deserve better, right? It’s not just about the low cost option, it’s about the best option. And, you know, I think the best option is not the hospital outpatient setting. And I think the industry as a whole could step it up and raise the bar in terms of what we deliver to patients. It’s not just about putting shares in a room. It’s really about delivering an experience that’s on par with the other experiences that they have in their lives. Yeah, absolutely.

Amanda Brummitt: And if you’re the patient that has to sit in that chair, what do you want and what do you not want? Yeah. I love it. So Woody, you have a fairly unique background, surely, that has helped shape the direction in your approach to infusion. Can you tell us a little bit about how it’s changed your direction?

Woody Baum: Yeah, so I mean, I think I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I see the world the way I think it can be, not the way it is. And as I mentioned, I come from the industry where we spend a lot of time thinking about what this industry could be. And as I was working in this opportunity over the last several years, we’ve seen the rise of digital and consumer healthcare technology companies like Kind Body, 10 Dental, Origin Physical Therapy, One Medical. These companies are a combination of digital brick and mortar, and, you know, actual delivery of healthcare services plus technology services that can be really successful. And I thought, what if we had something like that for infusion? I connected with two investor groups- brand Foundry Ventures, who was an early investor in Warby Parker and other consumer technology companies, and then Meridian Street Capital, which is a healthcare technology venture capital group. I explained my vision and what the industry could be, and they were very supportive, encouraged me to lean into that, to focus intently on brand patient experience technology and in our vision of how we could be more than just an infusion center. So they, along with several others, invested heavily into what would become local infusion so that we’d have the resources to recruit an exceptional, build our tech, tech stack and develop our first centers.

Amanda Brummitt: Wow. That is incredible. So can you tell us a little bit about the tech stack and what all that entails?

Woody Baum: Yeah. And, alluding to your earlier comment, you know, you mentioned about data. I think in general most companies focus on technology way too late in their growth curve. So that it’s this constant game of catch up, and having operated infusion centers, I was fortunate enough to, to have a strong idea of what I already wanted. Started off by recruiting a technology leader, and I looked at a lot of digital health companies and industries that were similar to Infusion. We recruited Tina Lou, who is the VP of product at Kind Body, a digital health startup in the fertility space. And Tina is exceptional, strong healthcare, understanding, strong understanding of clinical operations, people operations, and digital product operations. We looked at our technology needs holistically from the ground up, making no assumptions about what we would need exactly. And we looked at everything from patient engagement, CRM, EHR, etc. Now, one of the most important decisions and what we spent the most time on was selecting our EHR. So the EHR is the heartbeat of a healthcare organization and, and we looked at all of our options, including building our own EHR and. We’re happy to say we chose WeInfuse. So WeInfuse is by far the best choice. We’re so excited to be working with them again. But then beyond source EHR, our tech strategy focused on the following. Patient engagement, data capture and analytics, interoperability, process automation and virtual care. So we have a combination of proprietary and configured solutions that we’re building on top of and around WeInfuse to support local infusion and realizing its mission.

Amanda Brummitt: That is fantastic and I’m ecstatic to hear that WeInfuse can be part of your solution. Love it.

Woody Baum: It’s fun, you know, it’s not my first rodeo, so most companies, they end up in this technology debt, and they’re just constantly playing catch up to start ground one with the focus on having the resources, the financial resources to invest this heavily, and making sure that we have the right infrastructure to support our care model. It’s just a much better place to be starting off from.

Amanda Brummitt: Yeah. And to be able to be intentional and proactive about it and not reactive is huge. I love that you’re setting it that way.

Woody Baum: Yeah. You know, and in an early stage startup there’s always a little tension between overengineering and being reactive, right? So certain companies, they over prepare and they engineer for solutions, or sorry, they engineer for problems that they don’t even have. And then other companies, they under prepare and they just go and they fly in blind. And so there’s a delicate balance between speed and preparedness. And I think we’re doing a good job of it. I mean, we’re gonna come out of the gate with a really strong buttoned up technology product, but also a technology infrastructure that will allow us to adapt as the needs of the business evolve as well.

Amanda Brummitt: Sure. Yeah. So, one question, diving in a little bit there on the virtual care side, is that telemedicine? Is it patient text messaging? How do you envision that playing?

Woody Baum: I think it’s a little bit all of the above, right? One of the things that we know is that we’re capable of building really strong and engaged relationships with patients and we should leverage that.

Amanda Brummitt: That absolutely makes sense. Well, shifting gears a little bit, and knowing you’ve seen a lot in the infusion space, what would you say has been your biggest challenge?

Woody Baum: Well ask me in six months because we’re just getting started.

Amanda Brummitt: Right?

Woody Baum: What I will say is there’s a reason not everyone starts a business. Even with Venture Capital funding an exceptional team, getting a business from zero to one is a challenge. And we’re building the foundation, and I’m from New York City originally. So they’re always building these big skyscrapers. And if you’ve seen how they are. The way the construction works is they work on the foundation first, and, and it looks like forever. Nothing’s happening, nothing’s happening, nothing’s happening. They’re down in this hole in the ground, and then boom, all of a sudden, 20 stories are built in no time. And so that’s what it’s like to build a startup. We’ve had our heads down for a year to get our first open location or first location open, and in 18 months you’re gonna see us opening two locations a month without a sweat. Right. It’s just, that’s how it works. So it’s just that, that grind and build, building out that flywheel, getting that momentum is just so hard in the beginning. And then all of a sudden it just, you know, it really takes off.

Amanda Brummitt: Yeah. That makes so much sense. It’s always humbling with how hard it is to get started in the beginning, but it sounds like you guys are doing everything right and it’ll make it much easier when you get into growth mode later on. Well more on the industry side. Can you tell our listeners what something is that you’re really excited about in the infusion industry?

Woody Baum: Good question. So what’s most exciting to me about the industry is the opportunity we have to innovate and improve on the patient experience. I think if you look at the industry 10 years ago today, night and day between what the patients experienced and now, or now the offerings that are in the market. But I’d say that we’re in the second inning and thinking about what is possible for infusion patients and that that is exciting and that’s where we’re gonna lead the way.

Amanda Brummitt: Yeah. And I totally agree with you Woody. I think something that’s really important for all of us to remember is that nobody wants our services. We sell something that is undesirable. And if they’re in our center, it’s because something has already taken place that they’re coming to us in a place where they don’t feel well, they’re hurt, they’re scared. And so really you know, thinking about that, if we’re, if we’re only at second base and we’ve got a long ways to go for patients. This is really, really exciting.

Woody Baum: Yep. I think if you look at, I mean, look at what’s happening in primary care. I mean, you know, 10 years ago, One Medical was this brand new startup and no one had heard of them. And now companies like that exist all over the country, right? And so I think what you’re gonna see is the bars are being raised and the standards of care being improved on. And so, I think it’s an exception. I think it’s a really exciting time. I mean, no one wants to be an infusion patient, but it will be better to be an infusion patient 10 years from now than it will be today as it’s better to be an infusion patient today than it was 10 years ago. So it’s still early innings, and a lot of innovation and a lot of improvements still need to be done.

Amanda Brummitt: Yeah, absolutely. Well, while we are wrapping up, what is one last piece of advice that you would give to our listeners?

Woody Baum: A piece of advice. I would say, you know, focus on the team. Just focus on the team, get the team right and everything else will flow.

Amanda Brummitt: Man, that is great advice. Absolutely. I think we could all stand to hear that and remember that day in and day out to make all of our businesses run better.

Woody Baum: That’s what it is. We spend eight to 10 or 12 hours a day with these people, so make sure they’re the right ones and it becomes a really fulfilling journey.

Amanda Brummitt: Absolutely. Well, Woody, thank you so much for all of the insight that you’ve given us into the industry. Thanks for telling us about Local Infusion. We’re super excited to watch you guys grow and also thrilled that WeInfuse can be part of your solution.

Woody Baum: Awesome. Well, I’m excited to be back on the podcast. Again, the WeInfuse podcast, everyone in the industry should listen to it. I’ll also give a plug for WeInfuse. If you’re running an infusion center, you should be running with WeInfuse.

Amanda Brummitt: Well, thank you. We will take that.

Woody Baum: Awesome, Amanda. Well thank you so much for having me.

Amanda Brummitt: Well, there you have it. That was Woody Baum with Local Infusion, and he shared so much great information. His advice on communicating a vision and building a strong team is spot on. And his dedication to designing infusion centers around a patient’s need is inspiring. He’s right in that we’ve come a long way in the infusion industry and it’s even more exciting to see where we’re heading. And finally, their proactive approach to technology is so smart and we can’t wait to see their centers open. Well, speaking of technology, if you aren’t already familiar with the WeInfuse software platform, I encourage you to schedule a test drive to see how they can save you time and money in your practice. My name is Amanda Brummitt, and we’ll catch you in the next episode.

Guest Speaker:  Woody Baum is the Founder and CEO of Local Infusion, a digital health venture focused on patients with chronic autoimmune diseases on specialty medications. Woody has a history in investment banking, and experience with delivering cost-effective infusion services. Woody received his BA from Texas Tech and MBA from Columbia Business School.