Florence Healthcare Keeps Clinical Trials Efficient with SaaS Platform

Every year, research centers and pharmaceutical companies spend upward of $35 billion on clinical research logistics, with $10 billion of that spent simply auditing paper documents. That time and money could be spent in actual research finding the next life-saving drug.

Since January 2016, ATDC Signature company Florence Healthcare has been changing the way these trial sites keep records and clinical trial data. The platform helps trial sites manage their documents all in one place, including case report forms, emails, regulatory forms, and more, while remaining HIPAA and 21 CFR 11 compliant. Making the process faster helps trials introduce new therapies faster, allows for remote monitoring, and of course — saves a little of that $10 billion. No more 3-ring binders holding sheafs of paper!

University of California, San Francisco, Mt. Sinai, and Sloan Kettering’s PCCTC Cancer Research Center are some of the clients already using the SaaS platform to manage their clinical trials and patients more efficiently.

Hype caught up with co-founder and CEO Ryan Jones to talk about their latest accomplishments following a seed round, how Florence Healthcare is the QuickBooks of clinical trials, and why Atlanta is the best place to grow their company.

You raised a seed round last year to scale faster. How did you leverage those funds and what accomplishments have you had since then?

We raised about $1.7M in 2016. This allowed us to hire a world-class product and development team. The product really shows the impact of this investment — it’s the best in the market. By leading with the product, we’re best able to fulfill our mission: bringing new medicines to market by supporting the doctors and nurses that run clinical trials.

What’s Florence Healthcare‘s pitch and what problem are you solving? 

About $150 billion is spent on pharmaceutical research across tens of thousands of trials each year. Billions of dollars in technology spend have gone to support process at pharmaceutical companies. But what about the hospitals that treat the patients in those trials? They rely on three-ring binders and Excel sheets to manage their work.

We provide a tool that’s a little like QuickBooks for clinical trials — we make it easy for research teams to manage studies and get key data back to the pharma companies that sponsor the trials.

Who is your target audience? What challenges have you encountered when approaching potential customers with your software?

There are about 20,000 clinical trial sites (this could be your doctor, or a major research center like Emory) and about 2,000 biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Our solution helps the trial sites do more studies with less work and provides speed and process visibility for the pharma companies. We target both of these groups.

20,000 sites and 2,000 pharma companies is a lot of ground to cover for a young company, so building and scaling an expert sales and marketing team is the challenge now.

Why is it important for drug companies and researchers to have one platform to share all of their trial breakthroughs? 

It takes 12 years for a new drug to travel from the laboratory to your medicine cabinet. So, technologies that shorten this timeline, like ours, get immediate attention. Moreover, precision medicine, where a drug is targeted at a very specific or genetically identified type of disease, has created 300 percent more complexity in running these trials. They are simply becoming impossible to conduct without software automation in the mix.

We provide a tool that’s a little like QuickBooks for clinical trials — we make it easy for research teams to manage studies and prove new medicines safe and effective.

You’ve had incredible growth in the past year, how are you handling the growth and expansion of your platform as a CEO? How do you stay on track with your product?

We showed a little love to this unloved corner of healthcare, and were lucky to see an amazing response. We’ve been able to manage our product because Angela (VP Product), Andres (CTO) and Mike (Medical Director) are awesome at what they do and have a rare triptych of talents that align just with our market: a) clinical trial operations, b) digital security and c) healthcare workflows.

How do I handle it? Did I mention we’re hiring in all areas of the company?

What’s your revenue model?

We’re a SaaS business, so we charge a subscription fee to the sites or pharmas that use our solution.

As a startup founder, what lessons have you learned so far that may help other entrepreneurs? 

Start with a hypothesis and test it. Throw it out, test another one. Do this fast so you don’t run out of time, money, or breath. Then once your customers start to love you, love them back 2x.

How does Atlanta/Southeast weave into your startup story? Why is it a good place to build a company?

We founded Florence just as Atlanta hit a stride as a tech center. It’s now in a real sweet spot, with low costs relative to other tech centers but with a talent ecosystem that’s just as good — or better.

Solving a problem impacts the future of medicine was a conscious choice, but we never imagined how much the selection of the right problem to work on would help us. The change we’re making in the world is why our customers and team have decided to join us.