Andrew Lockhart: “there are no shortcuts–any achievement of substance will be the byproduct of consistent effort.”

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💼 How did you end up as a CEO? What was your route to this position?

I used to be an avid basketball player, spending most of my weekends on the court with friends. One day, while playing a pickup game, I went up for a layup and came down awkwardly, tearing my ACL and MCL. I sought out the nearest hospital for an MRI.

When the bill came, I was shocked at the exorbitant amount I had to pay. I realized then that I had gone out of network – requiring me to pay the entire cost of the procedure. This experience got me curious about the medical billing process.

I started digging deeper, looking for ways to understand how the system worked and why it was so complex.

As I dove into the details, I realized that the process of medical coding – assigning codes to medical procedures and diagnoses – was a significant contributor to the complexity of medical billing and could be a lever to transform the patient experience.

At the same time, my co-founder and I had been looking for opportunities to apply the wave of recent advancements in deep learning to healthcare; medical coding was now an obvious thread to pull. We quickly assembled a team of experts in the field and began building the technology.

Through some early partnerships to obtain training data, we were able to build an accurate and effective model that could automatically assign the correct codes for medical procedures and diagnoses – helping to prevent others from experiencing the same shock and frustration that I had faced with my basketball injury.

💼 Why are you the right person to be the CEO of your company?

Even if I hadn’t founded Fathom with my CTO, I am the right person to lead the company because of my management approach and my persistence.

For early-stage companies, remaining laser-focused on your goal is paramount to developing a product that works and avoiding wasteful distractions, even when they’re interesting and well-intended.

I have been effective at instilling a highly goal-oriented working style across the company that enables us to consistently and efficiently make progress. Second, the healthcare industry is enormous, and making change is often challenging and slow. It’s not for the faint of heart.

So my patience and persistence – investing in relationships and expertise for the long-term while remaining unfazed by short-term obstacles – are well-suited to setting up Fathom for success.

💼 What gets you up in the morning?

Every day, I’m energized by the impact we’re having on our clients and the thrill of working with such a high-performing team.

We partner closely with our clients – including health systems, physician groups, and billing companies – to ensure we’re exceeding their expectations and continually improving our services. Medical coding can seem mundane, but it drives the financial system of healthcare.

With widespread coding automation, we can move to a future where healthcare works like any other service, where patients can walk into a clinic and understand in real-time what everything will cost them and pay before they leave (rather than receiving a bill in the mail 8 weeks later).

On the second point, working with a truly world-class team makes the startup experience much more enjoyable. As we’ve been growing and hiring significantly, I am continually impressed with the caliber of the people we’re bringing on board.

It’s highly motivating to build and scale a company with a team of people who are passionate about tackling some of the thorniest problems in our healthcare system. We are finally beginning to re-open offices, and I couldn’t be more thrilled, as being around the Fathom team is by far the most gratifying part of my day-to-day.

💼 Who helped you get to where you are today?

I’ve been fortunate to have a loving and supportive family.

I don’t know otherwise, but I can’t underestimate the impact of being raised in an environment where your interests are indulged and encouraged. As I transitioned into my professional career, I had managers who went out of their way to invest in me and challenge me to grow quickly.

This has had a lasting impact on my career, as I was able to realize (perhaps earlier than most) the compounding impact of getting a little bit better each day.

💼 What is the best or worst business advice you have received, and from whom?

The best advice I received was from a mentor early in my career who told me that there are no shortcuts–any achievement of substance will be the byproduct of consistent effort.

💼 If you could go back in time to when you were a teenager, what life advice would you give yourself?

Surround yourself with people who inspire you, and you can learn from them.

Many of my greatest strengths are things that were once definitive weaknesses for me. I think there are some people who can pick up skills and attributes independently, but I wouldn’t count myself among them.

I’ve been fortunate to be able to assemble my toolkit from people with world-class talents and abilities.

💼 What are the most important values you demonstrate as a leader?

From feedback discussions with my team, I think the strongest values that come through in my leadership style are transparency, trust, and a growth mindset. First, the Fathom culture places a premium on transparency: we keep nearly all internal communications open to the full company so that everyone is aware of what we’re working on. This allows us to collaborate more effectively and to draw in contributions from across the organization.

Second, I trust the smart people on my team to exercise their best judgment and to ask for help when they need it. This approach empowers them to act as owners and to build up their personal expertise. Finally, I seek out colleagues who are curious and obsessed with learning and growth.

This emphasis on reflection and learning has been critical to Fathom’s success: we are always looking back at how we can move more quickly, collaborate more effectively, and avoid mistakes in the future.

💼 How can a leader fail?

The paths to failure can be infinite. Failure itself is a normal part of the journey to success. As painful as it may be, failure allows for learning and should be embraced and acknowledged in order to avoid repetition.

The biggest failure maybe not taking the time to learn from those mistakes. I am constantly learning ways to improve personally and professionally based on feedback from family, friends, colleagues, mentors, industry experts, and clients.

The important part in helping to mitigate failure as a leader is enabling the team to think and plan ahead, preparing backup plans, and keeping a pulse on things as you go in order to have a “fail fast” mentality and be ready to pivot as needed.

💼 What do the next five years hold for you?

We’re in the early innings of transforming revenue cycle management through automation. While we’ve seen AI brought into drug discovery, diagnostics, and other parts of healthcare, an enormous potential exists to radically reduce the administrative burden in our healthcare system.

The next few years will involve continuing to scale up Fathom to provide coding services for more and more medical specialties while consistently improving our automation capabilities and ROI for clients.

I’m excited to see our team and client base grow tremendously during the next several years.

💼 Mentorship is a big business in the West; do you have any experience with it?

I have had the privilege of experiencing mentorship as both a mentee and mentor throughout my career. I do not currently offer any mentorship classes or courses, etc., but I regularly meet with employees to provide guidance.

Mentorship does not need to be an official relationship, but it is provided in the various interactions I may have with those coming up the ranks or forging a path similar to mine. Mentorship is a rewarding experience where I enjoy paying forward what I have learned and am learning to staff and mentees.

I also often learn a lot in return from these discussions when hearing about challenges and the perspectives of others.

I know I do not have all the answers, and each situation is different. My main goal of mentorship is to share my experiences and practical advice in the hope that these may spark a solution or idea that works best for those that listen.

I think the value in sharing my perspective is just helping the other person to think through the options and potentially shed light on the pluses and minuses they may not have already considered rather than telling them what to do. This is because, many times, a decision may not actually be considered right or wrong but rather better or worse.

I also try to help the person work through anything that may be blocking them and determine resources or ways of navigating I can provide to help empower them to move closer to their goals.

💼 If people want to reach out to you or your business, what is the best way for them to go about doing that?

For healthcare organizations, the best way to get in touch with Fathom is to visit our website and fill out the form to contact us. For people looking to join a high-growth startup, the best way is to visit our Careers website and reach out to relevant team members on LinkedIn.

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Written by Fredd

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