Burlington-based Silverlink Communications, which has been striving to improve the communication between families, healthcare providers, and patients for almost twelve years, is positioned to be the industry leader for communications as the healthcare sector explodes, expands, and evolves in the next few years.
Founded in 2001 by Stan Nowak and Paulo Matos, Silverlink has expanded its services and communication tools to over one-hundred healthcare companies, including all of the providers ranked in the top ten by industry analysts. With over 600 million consumer healthcare decisions influenced by its products, Silverlink is already serving a vital function in the healthcare industry.
As the Affordable Care Act begins to be enacted, there will be several challenges for healthcare providers; however, Silverlink, already at the forefront of industry communication technology, is primed to be a vital asset for the evolving world of healthcare.
Nowak came up with the initial idea for Silverlink while experiencing the stress, daily fears, and constant worry that comes with living with an elderly family member.
“[Silverlink] was based on an idea I had in the late 80’s/early 90’s,” Nowak explained. “At that time, I was living with my grandfather after college. I would come home from work in the afternoon, and every day I thought I was going to find him at the bottom of the stairs. He lived on his own in a four-story house, and while mentally adept, he was becoming frail, was legally blind at that point, and was having trouble managing from day to day.”
To help his grandfather, Nowak envisioned a system that could, “provide family caregivers the ability to remotely check in on parents and grandparents and give them some peace of mind.”
Nowak and Silverlink co-founder Paulo Matos lost their jobs at Storage Networks during the dot-com bust of 2001, and found themselves in dire straits. Both had children, homes, etc., that they needed to provide for. So, as Nowak says, “we matched inspiration with desperation,” and within a month of leaving Storage Networks, the pair was working on the problem that Nowak had been trying to solve since living with his grandfather. Silverlink was born.
Their idea was to create an automated, interactive voice system that would be programmed to not only check in on senior family members with a simple "pick up the phone or an alert is emailed" response system, but also a virtual phone system that could autodial pharmacies for prescription refills or serve other important functions.
Nowak and Matos rounded up some of the great industry folks who were also negatively impacted by the tech bubble, and got to work creating Silverlink. The team started working to develop a communication system with an ease of use and scalability that would disrupt the stagnant options (think: ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.’) that were available to healthcare providers at the time.
As Nowak explained, “The value was that the original idea led us to build a platform that could be programmed by a fifty-three year old woman - the typical, average family caregiver at the time.”
“So we created an interface that allowed a non-technical person to build a dialogue,” he continued. “That was the first innovation that allowed us to do really great things afterwards. As we started to intersect with the issues of healthcare, seniors, and medication compliance, we were able to use non-technical people to build interactive dialogues that scaled up very quickly.”
“So within hours,” Nowak said, “we could build an interactive refill reminder call that would allow meds to be refilled in a single interactive phone call.”
“In 2002, that was quite innovative and extremely powerful.”
Finding success, Silverlink eventually shifted markets from the senior caregiver sector to the wider collection of healthcare companies looking to address the flood of industry-wide problems. As Nowak said of its expansion, Silverlink, "start[ed] with refilling prescriptions and then explod[ed] into hundreds of different areas of healthcare behaviors."
Today, Silverlink supports multiple channels of "outbound communication to motivate behavior".
Silverlink applies some of the innovative approaches that have been used in consumer and web marketing to "test and challenge" the methods that have bogged down the healthcare industry for decades.
As Nowak said, "We drive the best outcomes of anybody in this marketplace to drive and motivate behaviors."
For a long time, healthcare companies have not been very good at communicating with their customers. Some things that may seem obvious to consumer marketers have not always been important to the healthcare industry. As the industry changes with the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the ability for the health industry to make real connections with its customers/consumers/patients will be vital to the survival of many healthcare companies.
Silverlink is already connected with and familiar to many of the industry giants. As the company's products, tools, and ability to quickly scale becomes increasingly important in the health sector, Silverlink is poised to make a major impact in the increasingly unknown realm that is the future of healthcare.
As Nowak said, "2013 and '14 are going to be terrific years for us as our clients come face to face with this new way of doing business."
With their innovative healthcare communication platforms and services, Silverlink's way of doing business should continue to make ripples in an industry at one of the major crossroads in American medical/industrial history.
Want to learn more about Silverlink's openings, company culture, and product information? Check out their premium page on VentureFizz by clicking here.
Dennis Keohane is a staff writer for VentureFizz. You can follow Dennis on Twitter (@DBKeohane) by clicking here.