Bret Larsen & Miles Romney: Creating a Shared, Disruptive Vision

by Mardi Larson

Miles Romney, CTO and co-founder (left); Bret Larsen, CEO and co-founder (right)

Bret Larsen and Miles Romney are the co-founders of eVisit, a six-year-old, Mesa-based telehealth SaaS leader that is helping the largest hospitals and health systems in the U.S. innovate through remote, virtual patient care — a crucial offering, especially in today’s fast-paced pandemic world. 

The company was founded on a shared initial vision to “disrupt the disruption in healthcare,” which Larsen first saw taking hold in the industry in 2014 when working at another telehealth firm. That company was acquired by a larger telehealth firm whose business model was to deliver telehealth through centralized call centers staffed with providers to deliver remote patient care via telephone and video visits. 

At the time, this new disruptive telehealth model was novel and innovative. Typically, disruption is seen as good, especially among pioneering thinkers like Larsen, but he saw this model of telemedicine as potentially dangerous, especially for patient care. 

“I believe patient-provider connections should remain intact as much as possible, and that the best care is delivered by locally relevant providers who know their patients and have deep insights about local healthcare infrastructure, available support and referral services,” Larsen says. “If a patient needs follow-up care, such as testing, imaging or an in-person visit, that knowledge gap can cause disruptions in the care continuum.”

Early on, Larsen was working solo around his day job, nights and weekends, researching and analyzing healthcare workflows, interviewing healthcare leaders, shadowing clinical teams and wireframing the new SaaS product, working hard to create the MVP version. MVP stands for Minimal Viable Product and it’s the first and simplest iteration used to test the product with potential customers and to assess product-market fit. Having challenges on the software side (Larsen is a marketer and entrepreneur, not a software developer), he knew he’d need a technical co-founder who shared the same vision for healthcare, could architect the MVP, and could establish and lead the product and engineering teams.

Romney and Larsen were first introduced by Larsen’s brother-in-law, who worked for Romney at another SaaS company Romney co-founded, and after just one phone discussion, there was instant vision alignment. They both rallied around this countermovement. As a team of two, they created a simplified version of today’s eVisit Enterprise solution — a purpose-built, end-to-end platform designed to power virtual care for localized hospitals, health systems and provider networks. The two fully aligned on their new firm’s mission and vision and set out to disrupt the disruption in healthcare. 

Thus, eVisit was officially born and on its way.

This founding story is a powerful selling point as eVisit engages C-level leadership at large-scale healthcare enterprises, enabling these organizations to deliver virtual care offerings to enhance patient care and outcomes, protect and boost their revenue and reduce cost. 

The business started out serving the SMB healthcare space with smaller customers and clinical practices. Today, eVisit’s customer list includes the who’s who in healthcare with U.S. leaders such as Concentra, the leader in occupational health and telehealth; Envision Healthcare, a leading multispecialty medical group; and Phoenix-based Banner Health, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit health systems serving patient needs across six states in the Southwest and Great Plains. 

There are many rich threads to eVisit’s story, but this intense focus on disrupting the disruption in healthcare and helping already-established hospitals, health systems, clinics and practices innovate is focal to eVisit and its success. 

Hitting Their Stride

At first, Miles Romney and Bret Larsen said they “worked around each other.” Now, they collaborate and share company, brand, industry, technology and marketplace perspectives, regularly connecting via Slack, video chat, phone or in-person. “In each of our roles, we have different-yet-aligned points of view and we inspire each other every day,” says Romney. They collectively agree that the first major success flashpoint with eVisit was securing the firm’s first true enterprise-level healthcare customer, where they deployed eVisit across a range of clinical workflows from urgent care to oncology. 

Giving Away the Vision 

Romney and Larsen agree that a key factor in eVisit’s success is this shared cause-driven vision and “giving away the vision” to the internal team of eVisitors. The vision is also shared in each and every prospect engagement, customer onboarding and ongoing collaboration and with the industry at large — such as in briefings with influential analyst firms like Gartner and Forrester. 

For Larsen and Romney, first creating eVisit’s official mission and vision statements were important leadership steps in the successful making of the freshly minted telehealth firm. These statements are regularly reviewed and have been slightly adjusted across the years. 

The impulse behind eVisit is the founders’ vision to simplify healthcare delivery to everyone, everywhere. It’s simple, and all eVisitors understand it and how they contribute to it. Like many, eVisit is now a virtual company with an expanding remote staff that has grown from its first few collaborators in 2016 to 20 colleagues in January 2020 and 80-plus today, with more expansion in 2021. 

“As we bring new people in, we share our vision and core values and talk about these statements regularly at All-Hands meetings, asking our colleagues to share stories that help bring these core elements of our culture to life,” says Larsen, also noting that eVisit’s values list tops out at five with number one focused on a devotion to customers’ success. 

According to Romney, who now serves as on-staff futurist and CTO, also important is a bottoms-up leadership style. “It’s important to give our team the vision and resources, then let them be their creative best.” See Romney’s inspiring 2050 virtual care vision. 

Did You Know: A silver lining in the pandemic is, it ignited telehealth. According to a telehealth survey by Press Ganey (Harvard Business Review, Dec. 8, 2020) involving 1.3 million American patients, 37% of patient care was delivered via virtual visits January–May 2020, compared to 1% pre-pandemic. According to many experts, telehealth is here to stay. 

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