Daniel Frey: “The stress of being an owner”

There is no better feeling knowing you were able to impact someone’s life in a positive way, whether that is by delivering a baby or by being the one that turns a very bleak medical situation around and saving someone. I thought that was something that I gave up when I retired as a firefighter. […]

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There is no better feeling knowing you were able to impact someone’s life in a positive way, whether that is by delivering a baby or by being the one that turns a very bleak medical situation around and saving someone. I thought that was something that I gave up when I retired as a firefighter.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Daniel Frey.

Daniel is the co-founder and vice president of business development for FieldMed, the first-ever dedicated community health software platform designed for community health programs nationwide. Through this software, community health professionals can go beyond regular patient data to track in-depth information and trends to deliver better, more cost-effective patient care.

For the past 25 years, Daniel has served as a firefighter and paramedic, and he recently retired in 2019. During his time as a firefighter, Daniel helped to start and serve as the education coordinator for Best EMS and oversaw 14 fire departments’ education programs. In 2013, he was one of the creators of the Community Health Program in McKinney, Texas and worked as a Community Medic there for 6 years.

Through his time serving as a paramedic and firefighter, Daniel saw firsthand the drastic need for community health programs and partner software in cities, fire/EMS departments and hospitals around the country. He understood the impact that accurate and accessible data could have on these programs, and through this, he helped found FieldMed. FieldMed offers a patient-first software platform that empowers community health programs to provide better in-home patient care and improve tracking and reporting of valuable, actionable patient data and trends.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I had been a firefighter and paramedic for 19 years when I helped develop a Community Paramedic/Mobile Integrated Health program for McKinney, Texas. This was a new way of taking care of patients, and there was no software to track or report the treatment, so we were using paper forms, spreadsheets, and whatever else suited us at the time. I spent several years writing down how I would like the reporting to look on a legal pad, thinking of ways that we could develop software that would be efficient and helpful, but would also improve patient care. I was fortunate to meet the owners of Graphium Health, a leader in anesthesia reporting software, and we formed a partnership to create FieldMed, a cloud-based, intelligent Community Health software program.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

As someone who worked as a firefighter and paramedic for 25 years, I never dreamed I would be in this position now. I have worked very hard to become a subject matter expert in my field, but I am a pretty humble person. It has been incredibly interesting to do television interviews, see features on me in magazines, and online articles, while also traveling around consulting and speaking as an expert in community paramedicine/mobile integrated health. The interesting part about that for me is that people actually want to hear what I have to say.

Can you tell us about the technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

We believe that real breakthroughs happen when we can digitize all data that is coming through paramedics in an easy way that isn’t a burden on the users in the field. We want them to focus on providing care, not learning new software. We are working on creating many features that we think will help with this, including allowing patients to communicate and provide feedback to providers before and after visits, new mobile applications to minimize the workload on the front-lines, as well as an entirely new analytics platform that will provide deep access to all of their data so that community health programs can understand exactly what the status is and how they can help even more people in their communities.

How do you think this might change the world or healthcare industry?

In the past, paramedics in the field had very limited tools when it came to reporting and tracking patient data and their own results with caring for patients. Our software allows paramedics to do all of the patient reports, but it also tracks trends and patients so that paramedics can grasp where problems continue to pop up for patients, patients who are improving and more. Our software also offers telemedicine capabilities which is something that has been all but non-existent in the paramedic world. Paramedics can now get a physician’s eyes on the patient to help the medic directly in the field.

Can you see any potential drawbacks about FieldMed’s technology that people should think more deeply about?

As far as the technology, I truly do not. Being a medic in the field for many years and using cumbersome software, I wanted this designed for ease of use so medics could concentrate on patient care and not what buttons to click next.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

Yes, there was! CP/MIH programs are constantly having to pull their data to show program success and sustainability. One day I was asked by my Fire Chief to get a report ready to present before the city council the next week. I spent the next several days pouring through just over 12,000 EMS calls one-by-one getting the data I needed. Right then and there I decided there had to be a better way to do this, so I started looking to find that answer, and here we are.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

Whenever someone demos our software they are very impressed with the ease of use and how they can tell it was designed by medics with what medics need in mind. We want to continue to get our name out there and reach as many potential clients as we can. When we do that, the software will speak for itself.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Actually, there are three people that I owe where I am to — Ron Lockard, Randy Barker, and Daniel Dura, my three business partners. Being a firefighter and paramedic has always been a passion and not a job you do if you are ever wanting to be financially independent, which is why we all typically work second jobs. Starting a software business was a monumental task. I reached out to several people and finally found Ron, Randy, and Daniel. Randy and Daniel are part of Graphium Health, and after several meetings we decided to form a partnership and created FieldMed. I say I owe where I am now to these three gentlemen because they believed in me and my vision and took a big risk on me, that is something that does not happen to people every day and I am eternally grateful for it.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I am a veteran and a former first responder, and I have lost several friends to suicide. One of my passions is helping organizations that provide counseling and education on PTSD to reduce the suicide rates for veterans and first responders. I also work to grow Community Paramedic/Mobile Integrated Health programs with my knowledge through consulting. I believe everyone should have access to healthcare at some level and CP/MIH programs reach under- insured people to help them manage their healthcare. I want to have programs available for these people no matter where they live, so I consult to help start these programs regardless if they are using our software or someone else’s free of charge.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  • How much work actually goes into running a company — I put in so many more hours now staying up late nights and long days then I did in my last career as a fire fighter. There are no days off!
  • The difficulty of selling your product — I had this crazy illusion that “if you build it, they will come”, meaning I believe so much in our software that I thought everyone that saw it would be lining up to purchase it. After I did my first demo and the potential client stated that they absolutely loved it but were not ready to purchase it at this moment, I learned two things — that this is not going to be as easy as I thought and that the sales pipeline is important.
  • The stress of being an owner — I am used to dealing with plenty of stress from the fire service, and I actually embraced the stress. When things were going downhill either during a fire or a medical call, I took pride in being the calm one that could get the job done. The stress of making sure the company succeeds and that I can pay the bills and keep jobs for people is a different kind of stress, but it is the kind of stress that is helping us succeed.
  • About the Comradery — In the fire service, you become very close with the people you work with; our lives can literally be in each other’s hands. I really was worried about missing that comradery when I retired to do this. What I did not know was how close everyone with FieldMed and Graphium is. Our lives may not be in each other’s hands, but we all want to see each other succeed and be the best people we can be while growing this company together.

The Satisfaction — There is no better feeling knowing you were able to impact someone’s life in a positive way, whether that is by delivering a baby or by being the one that turns a very bleak medical situation around and saving someone. I thought that was something that I gave up when I retired as a firefighter. With that being said, when we go to market with a new vertical or have some new update that improves our software, I know this is going to help the medics in the field do their job better and more efficiently to help people in a positive way, I get that feeling of satisfaction in a new way!

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

This is an easy question, I would continue to do what I have been doing since 2012, promoting community health through community paramedic/mobile integrated health programs. There is such a vast amount of people out there that deal with mental health issues, are un or under insured, are elderly and live alone, do not have access to things like medications or transportation, or just do not understand how to take care of themselves properly because they were never educated about there medical issues. CP/MIH programs help bridge that gap and provide services these people could not get otherwise.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite Life Lesson Quote is “The wishbone will never replace the backbone by Will Henry. Throughout my life I have had to work hard for my accomplishments, whether that was in the military, the fire service, or in my current life with FieldMed. I believe if you want anything in life and want to be successful at it you need to have the backbone to take risks and work hard to achieve that success. If you sit around wishing for things to happen without making them happen for yourself, you will spend your life sitting around wishing!

Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say?

Community Health Paramedicine is critical for the healthcare industry now more than ever. With the ability to treat patients directly in their home, reduce non-emergent 911 calls and save cities/departments thousands of dollars, these programs can have a huge impact not only on EMS programs, but ultimately on patients. And while these programs do amazing work, they need software to reach their true success. They need software to track unique data points and patient trends, efficiently and effectively. FieldMed does just that in a format that is familiar and comfortable for paramedics.

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