Drew Madden is a Founding Partner of Evergreen Healthcare Partners, a consulting firm that seeks to help healthcare providers of different types with the data and technology solutions they need to streamline efficiency and to improve patient outcomes. Madden studied Industrial Engineering with an emphasis on Medical Systems at the University of Iowa College of Engineering. After graduating, he held various positions related to healthcare technology, including Nordic Consulting Partners. While at Nordic, Madden served as president of the company and oversaw the growth of said enterprise from a handful of employees to over 750. We recently sat down with Drew Madden to discuss his experience, his current endeavor, and more.
What led you to where you are today?
Right out of college, I began my career in the IT healthcare field. My educational background in industrial engineering made it a natural fit for this part of the healthcare field. I noticed pretty immediately the connection between the implementation of electronic health records and many industrial engineering concepts, so I took to the field right away. Right out of school I worked for Cerner Corporation, implementing inpatient clinical applications in large healthcare settings in the Chicago area. After my job at Cerner, I became a certified Epic applications consultant. I spent four years implementing Epic applications before moving in to the business development side where I worked to sell the applications I had previously worked with.
I then joined a startup company – Nordic Consulting Partners – in 2010. When I started there, we had about 10 employees. By the time I left in 2016, there were 750 employees involved in over 150 different healthcare systems across the country. In 2017, me and three other colleagues started Evergreen Healthcare Partners, with the mission of providing the highest quality IT related consulting services to help healthcare systems with various aspects of their functioning.
What made you choose your field?
I’d like to claim that it was strategic thinking on my part, but the truth is, healthcare IT chose me. After college, I was in the first graduating class after 9/11. Job prospects weren’t good and I had just graduated and gotten married. Cerner turned out to be the only offer I got, and this was due, in large part, to a project I had worked on during my senior year in college. At the time, healthcare IT and consulting was just emerging and was showing really promising future growth. I always like to ask other people in my field the same question, and almost every time, they have an answer similar to mine: they just kind of fell into it. While I didn’t grow up thinking this was what I would do as my career, it is far more rewarding than I thought possible.
Can you talk about professional challenges you have faced and how you managed to overcome them?
I think one of the most difficult challenges I’ve faced has also been an incredibly exciting opportunity. That challenge is being faced with trying to maintain a company culture while also managing explosive growth. When I first joined Nordic we had just 10 employees. In just a few years, we grew to some 750 employees as well as changing and reorganizing many aspects of the company’s structure and functioning. It was important, even with an unprecedented level of growth, to maintain a consultant-empowered culture. As a company increases in size, the effort it takes to maintain and refine a company’s culture increases exponentially as well. With that said, I can’t think of a more important challenge for a leader.
What would you say is the most valuable skill or asset you bring to your company and team?
I think it would have to be my ability to professionally and personally connect with people. I have an ability to connect deeply with the best and brightest people in the field. I often joke (it’s really only a half-joke) that my main job at Evergreen is continuing to be the least intelligent person in the office. Though this is part jest, I do think that my ability to collaborate and empower the amazing people I work with is my most valuable skill.
What would be your greatest career accomplishment to date?
I have to give you two answers to this one, because they are so intimately connected. First off, I am so thankful and proud of my amazing family and the support network I am so lucky to have in my life. My wife and two children are the loves of my life and without them, I don’t know that I’d have the motivation and drive to achieve what I have.
From a career standpoint, I think that has to be being lucky enough to be on the ground floor with two companies. I’ve been at Evergreen since before there was an Evergreen and it has given me immense appreciation for how far I’ve come and the effort my colleagues and I have put in to make our vision a success. It’s incredibly rewarding to see our idea visualize and to see people become very passionate about this career path. Being able to create something amazing with talented individuals, working with colleagues that inspire me, is a career highlight.