No company in MM+M’s Agency 100 has a niche entirely to itself, but 83bar comes close.
“We have two sides to the business,” explains CEO Bob Baurys. “We fill clinical trials for people — we schedule appointments for patients and so forth — and we help with commercialization.”
The niche has proven a lucrative one. In 2021, 83bar saw revenue soar 128%, to $26 million from $11.4 million the year prior. During the same stretch, head count more than tripled, from 51 to 165. By mid-April, the total had ticked up to 174.
Almost 100 of 83bar’s employees are nurses who handle case management, navigation and education around clinical trials, Baurys notes.
“We have built a better model for them, which has allowed us to be a benefactor of the Great Resignation. They don’t want to be in hospitals or nursing homes,” he explains, reporting that the agency hires a mere 3% of the nurses who apply.
The nurse staff, Baurys adds, are essential in executing 83bar’s vision. “We started out in patient recruitment, but what we do now is patient journey management.”
Finding people to staff the rest of the company’s business has been slightly more challenging, of course. “In terms of strategists and developers, it’s a battle every day, just as it is with everyone in the tech space,” he acknowledges.
COVID-19 accelerated a trend that is at the heart of 83bar’s business model: the adoption of decentralized clinical trials. To hear Baurys tell it, the changes were long overdue.
“About five or 10 years ago, everybody started to ask, ‘Why do I have to have someone come to the site 10 times and do the same thing each time?’” he explains. “Our nurses have the ability to order tests, schedule appointments, collect medical records and collect vital signs and lab data. Instead of it being a research coordinator in a building, we are running the trial with the nurses acting as their coordinators.”
The agency’s roster of 23 clients, which includes Geneoscopy, Myriad Genetics, EndoGastric Solutions and Medtronic, is only slightly larger than last year’s 20. However, Baurys says the slow build has been by design.
“We are very deliberate when we pick partners,” he explains. “We don’t try to sign up 10 or 20 new clients each year. We spend our time trying to keep 25 clients very happy and growing.”
That’s reflected in the agency’s employee retention statistics. “We have some churn, 15% to 20%, but nowhere near the industry average for a company of this size,” Baurys reports.
While the 83bar model seems to be working, Baurys prefers to focus on the larger-scale industry changes the agency has helped effect. He’s particularly proud how its nurses help steer consumers through the “embryonic stage of discovery” to a number of possible treatment pathways.
“A lot of people manage patients once they are in the system,” Baurys explains. “We are managing them before they get in the system. It’s a great way to extend the reach of healthcare.”
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Work from outside pharma you admire…
The State Farm Insurance mascot, Jake, wears his iconic red polo shirt and khakis to remind customers of the company’s personal customer service. But beyond the advertising, we admire how State Farm is bolstering a legacy brand with more responsive and intelligent digital tools. This is helping policyholders navigate complex claims and overcome confusing obstacles. — Baurys